Thunderstorm-Producing Terrain Features

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Thunderstorms were traced back to their initiation sites to determine areas of repeated thunderstorm genesis over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico. Using three summers of GOES data it was found that genesis-zone activity depended on the direction of the winds above the ridgetops, indicating upper-level wind direction to be a likely “necessary” (but not “sufficient”) predictor of the location of mountain-thunderstorm initiation. Some individual topographic features associated with each genesis zone can be identified.

1 Air Force Geophysics Laboratory (AFGL/LYC), Hanscom AFB, MA 01731.

2 Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.

Thunderstorms were traced back to their initiation sites to determine areas of repeated thunderstorm genesis over the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Colorado and New Mexico. Using three summers of GOES data it was found that genesis-zone activity depended on the direction of the winds above the ridgetops, indicating upper-level wind direction to be a likely “necessary” (but not “sufficient”) predictor of the location of mountain-thunderstorm initiation. Some individual topographic features associated with each genesis zone can be identified.

1 Air Force Geophysics Laboratory (AFGL/LYC), Hanscom AFB, MA 01731.

2 Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139.

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