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Wendy Schreiber-Abshire and Alfred R. Rodi

Abstract

In July 1987 during the CINDE project, three similar mesoscale planetary boundary layer convergence zones were observed to form in northeastern Colorado near Denver under synoptic-scale southwesterly flow. A number of recent studies have documented the importance of such convergence zones on the local weather in the Denver area. The three case studies presented in this paper are the boundary type previously classified by Wilson and Schreiber (1986) to be of unknown origin.

The analysis of mesonet, radar, and sounding data indicates that during periods of southwesterly flow at mountaintop levels over Colorado, the ridgetop winds may intrude into the Denver basin once the nocturnal temperature inversion has been eroded, provided that no other dominant synoptic-scale surface feature is affecting northeastern Colorado. When such an intrusion occurs, the southwest flow progresses northeastward until it reaches the frequently observed cold pool of air over the Platte River valley, which forms as the result of the nighttime drainage flow from the surrounding elevated terrain. It is at the leading edge of this cold pool that a surface-based convergence zone forms and remains until the cold pool is dissipated by insolation and mixing.

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Victoria Johnson, Richard Jeffries, Greg Byrd, Wendy Schreiber-Abshire, Elizabeth Page, Bruce Muller, and Tim Alberta

Abstract

The Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education, and Training (COMET)’s mission when it began in 1990 was to deliver professional development opportunities to U.S. government forecasters during the National Weather Service (NWS) modernization program. Since then, COMET has emerged as a worldwide leader in geoscience education. Its original objectives were to provide forecasters with classroom and distance learning training based on state-of-the-art science; support development and testing of new forecast methods; promote collaboration between the forecasting, research, and academic communities; and to advance forecasting and nowcasting by encouraging research. Over the years, COMET’s mission has expanded to disseminating and enhancing scientific knowledge in the environmental sciences, particularly meteorology, but also including diverse areas such as oceanography, hydrology, space weather, and emergency management. This paper reviews COMET’s evolution from a primary focus on educating U.S. forecasters on the application of new technologies (such as Doppler radar) to mesoscale meteorology problems into a program with a much broader scope. Those changes include offering learning opportunities that now cover a wider variety of topics and support the educational needs of diverse audiences worldwide. The history of COMET is a story of adaptation to technological changes, funding cycles, partner requirements, and service opportunities as well as taking on a more global mission. We will look at how COMET’s activities in geoscience education have changed, how its adaptability has contributed to the longevity of the program that was only supposed to exist until the NWS modernization was complete, and expectations and plans for the future.

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