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Hernán Bechis, Paola Salio, and Juan José Ruiz

Abstract

Drylines have been identified as relevant synoptic-scale phenomena that frequently occur in several regions around the world. Despite previous works and the experience of local forecasters that recognizes the occurrence of drylines in Argentina and suggests its possible association with convection initiation, knowledge about the mechanisms leading to the genesis of these features is poor. This paper presents the first synoptic climatology of these drylines as well as a first approach to the understanding of the processes leading to their formation. The climatology is based on an automated algorithm for dryline identification applied to reanalysis data. We found that drylines are more frequent between the northern Patagonia plateau and the central Argentinean plains. A composite analysis is performed to analyze the processes leading to the formation of synoptic-scale drylines within this region. It was found that these drylines form in the confluence between a warm and moist air mass driven by a northwesterly flow and drier air flowing east over the northern Patagonia plateau. The dry air originates on top of the Pacific maritime boundary layer and experiences lee subsidence after crossing the Andes range creating an area of dry and warm air that is advected to the east by the westerly synoptic-scale flow, and transported downward during the day due to strong boundary layer turbulence. At the same time, surface heating over the plateau leads to substantial warming of the originally colder dry air behind the dryline, thus reversing the horizontal temperature gradient across the dryline.

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Paola Salio, Matilde Nicolini, and Edward J. Zipser

Abstract

Prior studies have shown that the low-level jet is a recurrent characteristic of the environment during the initiation and mature stages of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) over the Great Plains of the United States. The South American low-level jet (SALLJ) over southeastern South America (SESA) has an analogous role, advecting heat and moisture from the Amazon basin southward into the central plains of southeastern South America, generating ideal environmental conditions for convection initiation and growth into MCSs. This research has two purposes. One is to describe the characteristics of a 3-yr MCS sample in South America, south of the equator, and its related geographical distribution of convection frequency. The other is to advance the knowledge of the evolution of favorable environmental conditions for the development of large MCSs, specifically those that mature under SALLJ conditions. High horizontal and temporal resolution satellite images are used to detect MCSs in the area for the period 1 September 2000–31 May 2003. Operational 1° horizontal resolution fields from NCEP are used to examine the environment associated with the systems and for the same period. Differences between tropical and subtropical MCSs in terms of size, diurnal cycle, and duration are found. Tropical MCSs are smaller, shorter in duration, and are characterized by a diurnal cycle mainly controlled by diurnal radiative heating. Subtropical MCSs show a preference for a nocturnal phase at maturity over Argentina, which contrasts with a tendency for a daytime peak over Uruguay and southern Brazil. In all seasons, at least one subtropical MCS developed in 41% of the SALLJ days, whereas in the days with no SALLJ conditions this percentage dropped to 12%. This result shows the importance of the synoptic conditions provided by the SALLJ for the development of MCSs and motivates the study of the atmospheric large-scale structure that evolves in close coexistence between SALLJ and subtropical organized convection at the mature stage. The large-scale environment associated with large long-lived MCSs during SALLJ events over SESA evolves under thermodynamic and dynamic forcings that are well captured by the compositing analysis. Essential features are low-level convergence generated by an anomalous all-day-long strong low-level jet prior to the development of the system, overlapped by high-level divergence associated with the anticyclonic flank of the entrance of an upper-level jet streak. This provides the dynamical forcing for convection initiation in an increasingly convectively unstable atmosphere driven by an intense and persistent horizontal advection of heat and moisture at low levels. These processes act during at least one diurnal cycle, enabling gradual building of optimal conditions for the formation of the largest organized convection in the subtropical area. The frequency of convection culminates in a geographically concentrated nocturnal maximum over northeast Argentina on the following day (MCS–SALLJ day). The northeastward displacement and later dissipation of subtropical convection are affected by a northward advance of a baroclinic zone, which is related to horizontal cold advection and divergence of moisture flux at low levels, both contributing to the stabilization of the atmosphere.

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Paloma Borque, Paola Salio, Matilde Nicolini, and Yanina García Skabar

Abstract

The present work focuses on the study of the environmental conditions preceding the development of a group of subtropical mesoscale convective systems over central and northern Argentina on 6–7 February 2003 during the South American Low Level Jet Experiment. This period was characterized by an extreme northerly low-level flow along the eastern Andes foothills [South American low-level jet (SALLJ)]. The entire studied episode was dominated by the presence of a very unstable air mass over northern Argentina and a frontal zone near 40°S. The SALLJ generated an important destabilization of the atmosphere due to the strong humidity and differential temperature advection. Orography provided an extra lifting motion to the configuration of the regional wind field, which was efficient in forcing the initiation of convection. Once convection developed, it moved and regenerated in regions where the convective instability was horizontally homogeneous and stronger.

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Jake P. Mulholland, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Robert J. Trapp, Kristen L. Rasmussen, and Paola V. Salio

Abstract

Satellite observations have revealed that some of the world’s most intense deep convective storms occur near the Sierras de Córdoba, Argentina, South America. A C-band, dual-polarization Doppler weather radar recently installed in the city of Córdoba in 2015 is now providing a high-resolution radar perspective of this intense convection. Radar data from two austral spring and summer seasons (2015–17) are used to document the convective life cycle, while reanalysis data are utilized to construct storm environments across this region. Most of the storms in the region are multicellular and initiate most frequently during the early afternoon and late evening hours near and just east of the Sierras de Córdoba. Annually, the peak occurrence of these storms is during the austral summer months of December, January, and February. These Córdoba radar-based statistics are shown to be comparable to statistics derived from Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission Precipitation Radar data. While generally similar to storm environments in the United States, storm environments in central Argentina tend to be characterized by larger CAPE and weaker low-level vertical wind shear. One of the more intriguing results is the relatively fast transition from first storms to larger mesoscale convective systems, compared with locations in the central United States.

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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.

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Matthew R. Kumjian, Rachel Gutierrez, Joshua S. Soderholm, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Paula Maldonado, Lorena Medina Luna, James Marquis, Kevin A. Bowley, Milagros Alvarez Imaz, and Paola Salio

Abstract

On 8 February 2018, a supercell storm produced gargantuan (>15 cm or >6 in. in maximum dimension) hail as it moved over the heavily populated city of Villa Carlos Paz in Córdoba Province, Argentina. Observations of gargantuan hail are quite rare, but the large population density here yielded numerous witnesses and social media pictures and videos from this event that document multiple large hailstones. The storm was also sampled by the newly installed operational polarimetric C-band radar in Córdoba. During the RELAMPAGO campaign, the authors interviewed local residents about their accounts of the storm and uncovered additional social media video and photographs revealing extremely large hail at multiple locations in town. This article documents the case, including the meteorological conditions supporting the storm (with the aid of a high-resolution WRF simulation), the storm’s observed radar signatures, and three noteworthy hailstones observed by residents. These hailstones include a freezer-preserved 4.48-in. (11.38 cm) maximum dimension stone that was scanned with a 3D infrared laser scanner, a 7.1-in. (18 cm) maximum dimension stone, and a hailstone photogrammetrically estimated to be between 7.4 and 9.3 in. (18.8–23.7 cm) in maximum dimension, which is close to or exceeds the world record for maximum dimension. Such a well-observed case is an important step forward in understanding environments and storms that produce gargantuan hail, and ultimately how to anticipate and detect such extreme events.

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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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Luiz A. T. Machado, Maria A. F. Silva Dias, Carlos Morales, Gilberto Fisch, Daniel Vila, Rachel Albrecht, Steven J. Goodman, Alan J. P. Calheiros, Thiago Biscaro, Christian Kummerow, Julia Cohen, David Fitzjarrald, Ernani L. Nascimento, Meiry S. Sakamoto, Christopher Cunningham, Jean-Pierre Chaboureau, Walter A. Petersen, David K. Adams, Luca Baldini, Carlos F. Angelis, Luiz F. Sapucci, Paola Salio, Henrique M. J. Barbosa, Eduardo Landulfo, Rodrigo A. F. Souza, Richard J. Blakeslee, Jeffrey Bailey, Saulo Freitas, Wagner F. A. Lima, and Ali Tokay

CHUVA, meaning “rain” in Portuguese, is the acronym for the Cloud Processes of the Main Precipitation Systems in Brazil: A Contribution to Cloud-Resolving Modeling and to the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM). The CHUVA project has conducted five field campaigns; the sixth and last campaign will be held in Manaus in 2014. The primary scientific objective of CHUVA is to contribute to the understanding of cloud processes, which represent one of the least understood components of the weather and climate system. The five CHUVA campaigns were designed to investigate specific tropical weather regimes. The first two experiments, in Alcantara and Fortaleza in northeastern Brazil, focused on warm clouds. The third campaign, which was conducted in Belém, was dedicated to tropical squall lines that often form along the sea-breeze front. The fourth campaign was in the Vale do Paraiba of southeastern Brazil, which is a region with intense lightning activity. In addition to contributing to the understanding of cloud process evolution from storms to thunderstorms, this fourth campaign also provided a high-fidelity total lightning proxy dataset for the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-R program. The fifth campaign was carried out in Santa Maria, in southern Brazil, a region of intense hailstorms associated with frequent mesoscale convective complexes. This campaign employed a multimodel high-resolution ensemble experiment. The data collected from contrasting precipitation regimes in tropical continental regions allow the various cloud processes in diverse environments to be compared. Some examples of these previous experiments are presented to illustrate the variability of convection across the tropics.

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Adam C. Varble, Stephen W. Nesbitt, Paola Salio, Joseph C. Hardin, Nitin Bharadwaj, Paloma Borque, Paul J. DeMott, Zhe Feng, Thomas C. J. Hill, James N. Marquis, Alyssa Matthews, Fan Mei, Rusen Öktem, Vagner Castro, Lexie Goldberger, Alexis Hunzinger, Kevin R. Barry, Sonia M. Kreidenweis, Greg M. McFarquhar, Lynn A. McMurdie, Mikhail Pekour, Heath Powers, David M. Romps, Celeste Saulo, Beat Schmid, Jason M. Tomlinson, Susan C. van den Heever, Alla Zelenyuk, Zhixiao Zhang, and Edward J. Zipser

Abstract

The Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) field campaign was designed to improve understanding of orographic cloud life cycles in relation to surrounding atmospheric thermodynamic, flow, and aerosol conditions. The deployment to the Sierras de Córdoba range in north-central Argentina was chosen because of very frequent cumulus congestus, deep convection initiation, and mesoscale convective organization uniquely observable from a fixed site. The C-band Scanning Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Precipitation Radar was deployed for the first time with over 50 ARM Mobile Facility atmospheric state, surface, aerosol, radiation, cloud, and precipitation instruments between October 2018 and April 2019. An intensive observing period (IOP) coincident with the RELAMPAGO field campaign was held between 1 November and 15 December during which 22 flights were performed by the ARM Gulfstream-1 aircraft.

A multitude of atmospheric processes and cloud conditions were observed over the 7-month campaign, including: numerous orographic cumulus and stratocumulus events; new particle formation and growth producing high aerosol concentrations; drizzle formation in fog and shallow liquid clouds; very low aerosol conditions following wet deposition in heavy rainfall; initiation of ice in congestus clouds across a range of temperatures; extreme deep convection reaching 21-km altitudes; and organization of intense, hail-containing supercells and mesoscale convective systems. These comprehensive datasets include many of the first ever collected in this region and provide new opportunities to study orographic cloud evolution and interactions with meteorological conditions, aerosols, surface conditions, and radiation in mountainous terrain.

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Stephen W. Nesbitt, Paola V. Salio, Eldo Ávila, Phillip Bitzer, Lawrence Carey, V. Chandrasekar, Wiebke Deierling, Francina Dominguez, Maria Eugenia Dillon, C. Marcelo Garcia, David Gochis, Steven Goodman, Deanna A. Hence, Karen A. Kosiba, Matthew R. Kumjian, Timothy Lang, Lorena Medina Luna, James Marquis, Robert Marshall, Lynn A. McMurdie, Ernani Lima Nascimento, Kristen L. Rasmussen, Rita Roberts, Angela K. Rowe, Juan José Ruiz, Eliah F.M.T. São Sabbas, A. Celeste Saulo, Russ S. Schumacher, Yanina Garcia Skabar, Luiz Augusto Toledo Machado, Robert J. Trapp, Adam Varble, James Wilson, Joshua Wurman, Edward J. Zipser, Ivan Arias, Hernán Bechis, and Maxwell A. Grover

Abstract

This article provides an overview of the experimental design, execution, education and public outreach, data collection, and initial scientific results from the Remote sensing of Electrification, Lightning, And Mesoscale/microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) field campaign. RELAMPAGO was a major field campaign conducted in Córdoba and Mendoza provinces in Argentina, and western Rio Grande do Sul State in Brazil in 2018-2019 that involved more than 200 scientists and students from the US, Argentina, and Brazil. This campaign was motivated by the physical processes and societal impacts of deep convection that frequently initiates in this region, often along the complex terrain of the Sierras de Córdoba and Andes, and often grows rapidly upscale into dangerous storms that impact society. Observed storms during the experiment produced copious hail, intense flash flooding, extreme lightning flash rates and other unusual lightning phenomena, but few tornadoes. The 5 distinct scientific foci of RELAMPAGO: convection initiation, severe weather, upscale growth, hydrometeorology, and lightning and electrification are described, as are the deployment strategies to observe physical processes relevant to these foci. The campaign’s international cooperation, forecasting efforts, and mission planning strategies enabled a successful data collection effort. In addition, the legacy of RELAMPAGO in South America, including extensive multi-national education, public outreach, and social media data-gathering associated with the campaign, is summarized.

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