Convectively Driven Mesoscale Weather Systems Aloft. Part I: Observations

J. M. Fritsch NOAA, Environmental Research Laboratories, Office of Weather Research and Modification, Boulder, CO 80303

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R. A. Maddox NOAA, Environmental Research Laboratories, Office of Weather Research and Modification, Boulder, CO 80303

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Abstract

Examination of NMC upper tropospheric analyses (300, 200 and 150 mb charts) indicates that significant perturbations are present in the wind fields in the vicinity of intense meso-α scale (250–2500 km) thunder-storm complexes (identified utilizing enhanced IR satellite imagery). This effect is investigated for each of 10 mesoscale convective complexes. Since the LFM convective adjustment procedure cannot infuse large amounts of mass, momentum and moisture into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, the 12 h LFM predicted winds are used as an indication of the unperturbed environmental flow. An estimate of the convective perturbation is obtained by subtracting the LFM predicted 200 mb winds from the observed winds. A large anticyclonic flow perturbation is present in each of the 10 events. Wind speed perturbations at individual sounding locations are commonly 10–20 m s−1 with maximum values as great as 38 m s−1. Detailed case analyses for two events are presented to illustrate these effects.

The predicted and observed fields are objectively analyzed over a common grid to develop a composite field for the 10 cases. The composite difference field is not only similar to that of the individual cases but it is also found that significant perturbations occur only in the vicinity of the convective complexes. Macroscale and mesoscale characteristics of these composite flow fields are also examined utilizing an objective technique for scale separation. Other characteristics of the perturbed fields are presented and implications of the convectively forced perturbations are discussed.

Abstract

Examination of NMC upper tropospheric analyses (300, 200 and 150 mb charts) indicates that significant perturbations are present in the wind fields in the vicinity of intense meso-α scale (250–2500 km) thunder-storm complexes (identified utilizing enhanced IR satellite imagery). This effect is investigated for each of 10 mesoscale convective complexes. Since the LFM convective adjustment procedure cannot infuse large amounts of mass, momentum and moisture into the upper troposphere and lower stratosphere, the 12 h LFM predicted winds are used as an indication of the unperturbed environmental flow. An estimate of the convective perturbation is obtained by subtracting the LFM predicted 200 mb winds from the observed winds. A large anticyclonic flow perturbation is present in each of the 10 events. Wind speed perturbations at individual sounding locations are commonly 10–20 m s−1 with maximum values as great as 38 m s−1. Detailed case analyses for two events are presented to illustrate these effects.

The predicted and observed fields are objectively analyzed over a common grid to develop a composite field for the 10 cases. The composite difference field is not only similar to that of the individual cases but it is also found that significant perturbations occur only in the vicinity of the convective complexes. Macroscale and mesoscale characteristics of these composite flow fields are also examined utilizing an objective technique for scale separation. Other characteristics of the perturbed fields are presented and implications of the convectively forced perturbations are discussed.

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