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Karen A. Kosiba and Joshua Wurman

Abstract

Two Doppler on Wheels (DOW) mobile radars collected fine-spatial-scale dual-Doppler data in the right-front quadrant and eye of Hurricane Frances (2004) as it made landfall near Stuart, Florida. A 5.7-km dual-Doppler baseline established a dual-Doppler domain south and east of Fort Pierce, Florida, encompassing a 5.5 km × 5.5 km horizontal area, with a grid spacing of 20 m, allowing for the resolution of subkilometer-scale horizontal structures and associated kinematics. Three-dimensional vector wind analyses of the boundary layer revealed the presence of linear coherent structures with a characteristic wavelength of 400–500 m near the surface that increased in size and became more cellular in shape with increasing height. Average horizontal perturbation winds were proportional to average total horizontal winds. Within the eye of the hurricane, the features lost linear coherency despite a high mean wind speed, possibly due to changes in stability. A slight decrease in the characteristic wavelength of boundary layer structures was documented as the winds cross the barrier islands east of Fort Pierce. Vertical flux of horizontal momentum caused by individual vortical structures was substantially higher than values employed in turbulence parameterization schemes, but the domain-wide average flux was substantially lower than that in individual structures, likely due to the transient nature of the most intense portions of the structures. Analysis of the turbulent kinetic energy (TKE) yielded values comparable to those reported in previous observational studies over the open ocean. However, there was substantial variability in TKE within the dual-Doppler domain, emphasizing the challenge in obtaining representative samples using non-3D measurements such as dropsondes.

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Karen A. Kosiba and Joshua Wurman

Abstract

The finescale three-dimensional structure and evolution of the near-surface boundary layer of a tornado (TBL) is mapped for the first time. The multibeam Rapid-Scan Doppler on Wheels (RSDOW) collected data at several vertical levels, as low as 4, 6, 10, 12, 14, and 17 m above ground level (AGL), contemporaneously at 7-s intervals for several minutes in a tornado near Russell, Kansas, on 25 May 2012. Additionally, a mobile mesonet anemometer measured winds at 3.5 m AGL in the core flow region. The radar, anemometer, and ground-based velocity-track display (GBVTD) analyses reveal the peak wind intensity is very near the surface at ~5 m AGL, about 15% higher than at 10 m AGL and 25% higher than at ~40 m AGL. GBVTD analyses resolve a downdraft within the radius of maximum winds (RMW), which decreased in magnitude when varying estimates for debris centrifuging are included. Much of the inflow (from −1 to −7 m s−1) is at or below 10–14 m AGL, much shallower than reported previously. Surface outflow precedes tornado dissipation. Comparisons between large-eddy simulation (LES) predictions of the corner flow swirl ratio Sc and observed tornado intensity changes are consistent.

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Matthew R. Kumjian, Yvette P. Richardson, Traeger Meyer, Karen A. Kosiba, and Joshua Wurman

Abstract

Two of the “Doppler on Wheels” facility radars (DOW6 and DOW7) have been upgraded to dual-polarization capabilities and operate at two closely spaced X-band frequencies. For particles with sizes that are large relative to the wavelength, resonance scattering effects may lead to differences in the backscattered radiation between these two frequencies. This study investigates the utility of dual-frequency, dual-polarization DOW radars for hail detection and sizing. T-matrix scattering calculations at the two X-band DOW7 frequencies reveal that dual-frequency differences in the radar reflectivity factors at horizontal polarization (Δλ Z H) and differential reflectivities (Δλ Z DR) exist for hailstones, whereas negligible differences exist for raindrops. These differences are enhanced for wet or melting hailstones. Further, these dual-frequency differences may be positive or negative, thereby defining four distinct quadrants in the Δλ Z H–Δλ Z DR parameter space that occur for narrow bands of hail sizes. DOW7 data from two hail-bearing storms are analyzed: one produced only small hail, and the other produced severe hail up to ~3.8 cm in diameter. The analysis reveals dual-frequency signals that are consistent with the scattering calculations for those sizes, including consistent changes in the signatures below the melting layer in the first storm as hailstones acquire more liquid meltwater and a shift in the Δλ Z H–Δλ Z DR parameter space over time as the second storm grew upscale and hail sizes decreased. Implications for further applications and suggestions about closely spaced dual-frequency observations at other wavelengths are discussed.

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Karen A. Kosiba, Joshua Wurman, Kevin Knupp, Kyle Pennington, and Paul Robinson

Abstract

During the Ontario Winter Lake-effect Systems (OWLeS) field campaign, 12 long-lake-axis-parallel (LLAP) snowband events were sampled. Misovortices occurred in 11 of these events, with characteristic diameters of ~800 m, differential velocities of ~11 m s−1, and spacing between vortices of ~3 km. A detailed observational analysis of one such snowband provided further insight on the processes governing misovortex genesis and evolution, adding to the growing body of knowledge of these intense snowband features. On 15–16 December 2013, a misovortex-producing snowband was exceptionally well sampled by ground-based OWLeS instrumentation, which allowed for integrated finescale dual-Doppler and surface thermodynamic analyses. Similar to other studies, horizontal shearing instability (HSI), coupled with stretching, was shown to be the primary genesis mechanism. The HSI location was influenced by snowband-generated boundaries and location of the Arctic front relative to the band. Surface temperature observations, available for the first time, indicated that the misovortices formed along a baroclinic zone. Enhanced mixing, higher radar reflectivity, and increased precipitation rate accompanied the vortices. As the snowband came ashore, OWLeS participants indicated an increase in snowfall and white out conditions with the passage of the snowband. A sharp, small-scale pressure drop, coupled with winds of ~16 m s−1, marked the passage of a misovortex and may be typical of snowband misovortices.

Open access
Jake P. Mulholland, Jeffrey Frame, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Scott M. Steiger, Karen A. Kosiba, and Joshua Wurman

Abstract

Recent lake-effect snow field projects in the eastern Great Lakes region have revealed the presence of misovortices with diameters between 40 and 4000 m along cyclonic horizontal shear zones within long-lake-axis-parallel bands. One particular band in which an abundance of misovortices developed occurred on 7 January 2014. The leading hypothesis for lake-effect misovortexgenesis is the release of horizontal shearing instability (HSI). An analysis of three-dimensional dual-Doppler wind syntheses reveals that two criteria for HSI are satisfied along the horizontal shear zone, strongly suggesting that HSI was the likely cause of the misovortices in this case. Furthermore, the general lack of anticyclonic–cyclonic vortex couplets throughout the event reveal that tilting of horizontal vorticity into the vertical is of less importance compared to the release of HSI and subsequent strengthening via vortex stretching. A WRF simulation depicts misovortices along the horizontal shear zone within the simulated band. The simulated vortices display remarkable similarities to the observed vortices in terms of intensity, depth, spacing, and size. The simulated vortices persist over the eastern end of the lake; however, once the vortices move inland, they quickly dissipate. HSI criteria are also calculated from the WRF simulation and are satisfied along the shear zone. Competing hypotheses of misovortexgenesis are presented, with results indicating that the release of HSI is the likely mechanism of vortex formation.

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James Marquis, Yvette Richardson, Paul Markowski, Joshua Wurman, Karen Kosiba, and Paul Robinson

Abstract

Storm-scale and mesocyclone-scale processes occurring contemporaneously with a tornado in the Goshen County, Wyoming, supercell observed on 5 June 2009 during the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) are examined using ensemble analyses produced by assimilating mobile radar and in situ observations into a high-resolution convection-resolving model. This paper focuses on understanding the evolution of the vertical structure of the storm, the outflow buoyancy, and processes affecting the vertical vorticity and circulation within the mesocyclone that correspond to changes in observed tornado intensity.

Tornadogenesis occurs when the low-level mesocyclone is least negatively buoyant relative to the environment, possesses its largest circulation, and is collocated with the largest azimuthally averaged convergence during the analysis period. The average buoyancy, circulation, and convergence within the near-surface mesocyclone (on spatial scales resolved by the model) all decrease as the tornado intensifies and matures. The tornado and its parent low-level mesocyclone both dissipate surrounded by a weakening rear-flank downdraft. The decreasing buoyancy of parcels within the low-level mesocyclone may partly be responsible for the weakening of the updraft surrounding the tornado and decoupling of the mid- and low-level circulation. Although the supply of horizontal vorticity generated in the forward flank of the storm increases throughout the life cycle of the tornado, it is presumably less easily tilted and stretched on the mesocyclone-scale during tornado maturity owing to the disruption of the low-level updraft/downdraft structure. Changes in radar-measured tornado intensity lag those of ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) mesocyclone vorticity and circulation.

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Casey B. Griffin, Christopher C. Weiss, Anthony E. Reinhart, Jeffrey C. Snyder, Howard B. Bluestein, Joshua Wurman, and Karen A. Kosiba

Abstract

During the second Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment (VORTEX2) field campaign, mobile radars observed a previously undocumented feature: the low-reflectivity ribbon (LRR). The LRR was characterized by reduced reflectivity Z H and differential reflectivity Z DR through a narrow region extending from the intersection of the hook and forward-flank regions of supercells. This study synthesizes kinematic and polarimetric radar observations with in situ measurements taken by the “StickNet” observing network. StickNet data have been used to establish that the LRR is associated with a localized minimum in pseudoequivalent potential temperature Pronounced drops in are observed by nine separate probes in three different supercell thunderstorms. Both single- and dual-Doppler analyses are used to examine the two- and three-dimensional structures of the winds within the LRR, revealing that the LRR is associated with cyclonic vertical vorticity aloft. Polarimetric radar observations are used to study the hydrometeor characteristics and the processes that cause those hydrometers to be present. Special consideration is given to the analysis of the vertical distribution of traditional and polarimetric variables, as well as the evolution of the kinematic fields retrieved by dual-Doppler analysis. The combination of thermodynamic, kinematic, and inferred microphysical observations supports a hypothesis that the LRR comprises sparse, large hail.

Open access
Robert J. Trapp, Karen A. Kosiba, James N. Marquis, Matthew R. Kumjian, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Joshua Wurman, Paola Salio, Maxwell A. Grover, Paul Robinson, and Deanna A. Hence

Abstract

On 10 November 2018, during the RELAMPAGO field campaign in Argentina, South America, a thunderstorm with supercell characteristics was observed by an array of mobile observing instruments, including three Doppler on Wheels radars. In contrast to the archetypal supercell described in the Glossary of Meteorology, the updraft rotation in this storm was rather short lived (~25 min), causing some initial doubt as to whether this indeed was a supercell. However, retrieved 3D winds from dual-Doppler radar scans were used to document a high spatial correspondence between midlevel vertical velocity and vertical vorticity in this storm, thus providing evidence to support the supercell categorization. Additional data collected within the RELAMPAGO domain revealed other storms with this behavior, which appears to be attributable in part to effects of the local terrain. Specifically, the IOP4 supercell and other short-duration supercell cases presented had storm motions that were nearly perpendicular to the long axis of the Sierras de Córdoba Mountains; a long-duration supercell case, on the other hand, had a storm motion nearly parallel to these mountains. Sounding observations as well as model simulations indicate that a mountain-perpendicular storm motion results in a relatively short storm residence time within the narrow zone of terrain-enhanced vertical wind shear. Such a motion and short residence time would limit the upward tilting, by the left-moving supercell updraft, of the storm-relative, antistreamwise horizontal vorticity associated with anabatic flow near complex terrain.

Free access
Russ S. Schumacher, Deanna A. Hence, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Robert J. Trapp, Karen A. Kosiba, Joshua Wurman, Paola Salio, Martin Rugna, Adam C. Varble, and Nathan R. Kelly

Abstract

During the Remote Sensing of Electrification, Lightning, and Mesoscale/Microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations-Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (RELAMPAGO-CACTI) field experiments in 2018–19, an unprecedented number of balloon-borne soundings were collected in Argentina. Radiosondes were launched from both fixed and mobile platforms, yielding 2712 soundings during the period 15 October 2018–30 April 2019. Approximately 20% of these soundings were collected by highly mobile platforms, strategically positioned for each intensive observing period, and launching approximately once per hour. The combination of fixed and mobile soundings capture both the overall conditions characterizing the RELAMPAGO-CACTI campaign, as well as the detailed evolution of environments supporting the initiation and upscale growth of deep convective storms, including some that produced hazardous hail and heavy rainfall. Episodes of frequent convection were characterized by sufficient quantities of moisture and instability for deep convection, along with deep-layer vertical wind shear supportive of organized or rotating storms. A total of 11 soundings showed most unstable convective available potential energy (MUCAPE) exceeding 6000 J kg−1, comparable to the extreme instability observed in other parts of the world with intense deep convection. Parameters used to diagnose severe-storm potential showed that conditions were often favorable for supercells and severe hail, but not for tornadoes, primarily because of insufficient low-level wind shear. High-frequency soundings also revealed the structure and evolution of the boundary layer leading up to convection initiation, convectively generated cold pools, the South American low-level jet (SALLJ), and elevated nocturnal convection. This sounding dataset will enable improved understanding and prediction of convective storms and their surroundings in subtropical South America, as well as comparisons with other heavily studied regions such as the central United States that have not previously been possible.

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Michael M. Bell, Robert A. Ballard, Mark Bauman, Annette M. Foerster, Andrew Frambach, Karen A. Kosiba, Wen-Chau Lee, Shannon L. Rees, and Joshua Wurman

Abstract

A National Science Foundation sponsored educational deployment of a Doppler on Wheels radar called the Hawaiian Educational Radar Opportunity (HERO) was conducted on O‘ahu from 21 October to 13 November 2013. This was the first-ever deployment of a polarimetric X-band (3 cm) research radar in Hawaii. A unique fine-resolution radar and radiosonde dataset was collected during 16 intensive observing periods through a collaborative effort between University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa undergraduate and graduate students and the National Weather Service’s Weather Forecast Office in Honolulu. HERO was the field component of MET 628 “Radar Meteorology,” with 12 enrolled graduate students who collected and analyzed the data as part of the course. Extensive community outreach was conducted, including participation in a School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology open house event with over 7,500 visitors from local K–12 schools and the public. An overview of the HERO project and highlights of some interesting tropical rain and cloud observations are described. Phenomena observed by the radar include cumulus clouds, trade wind showers, deep convective thunderstorms, and a widespread heavy rain event associated with a cold frontal passage. Detailed cloud and precipitation structures and their interactions with O‘ahu terrain, unique dual-polarization signatures, and the implications for the dynamics and microphysics of tropical convection are presented.

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