Synoptic and Mesoscale Aspects of an Appalachian Ice Storm Associated with Cold-Air Damming

View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Meteorology, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park PA 16802
  • 2 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, CO 80307
© Get Permissions
Full access

Abstract

An interesting ice storm of moderate severity occurred along the east slopes of the Appalachians on 13–14 January 1980. Though surface temperatures were initially below freezing in most of this region, objective guidance indicated that large-scale warm would render the atmosphere conducive to rain. Warm advection did occur above about 900 mb, but below this level warm advection was prevented by a cold ~ shaped ridge of high pressure which became entrenched along the east slopes. Temperature in the lowest 0.5–1 km remained below freezing and an ice storm resulted.

This case study documents the evolution of the wedge ridge and the temperature and wind fields associated with it. Comparisons are made between the evolution of these fields within the quasi-stationary wedge ridge (a weather regime known as cold-air damming and their evolution during the preceding period, when the pressure ridge was progressing eastward across the Midwest The processes controlling the charges of temperature in these regimes are analyzed; cold advection and upslope flow maintain the cold dome. Cross sections are used to present detailed analyses of the vertical structure and evolution of the temperatures and winds within the damming region. Interesting features include the development of an “extended coastal front”—the sloping inversion separating the trapped cold dome from the warm onshore flow above, a jet parallel to the mountain at low levels, and an enhanced flow over the mountain near its crest. Apparently due to the lack of vertical resolution sufficient to capture such features operational numerical models exhibited substantial errors in this case.

Abstract

An interesting ice storm of moderate severity occurred along the east slopes of the Appalachians on 13–14 January 1980. Though surface temperatures were initially below freezing in most of this region, objective guidance indicated that large-scale warm would render the atmosphere conducive to rain. Warm advection did occur above about 900 mb, but below this level warm advection was prevented by a cold ~ shaped ridge of high pressure which became entrenched along the east slopes. Temperature in the lowest 0.5–1 km remained below freezing and an ice storm resulted.

This case study documents the evolution of the wedge ridge and the temperature and wind fields associated with it. Comparisons are made between the evolution of these fields within the quasi-stationary wedge ridge (a weather regime known as cold-air damming and their evolution during the preceding period, when the pressure ridge was progressing eastward across the Midwest The processes controlling the charges of temperature in these regimes are analyzed; cold advection and upslope flow maintain the cold dome. Cross sections are used to present detailed analyses of the vertical structure and evolution of the temperatures and winds within the damming region. Interesting features include the development of an “extended coastal front”—the sloping inversion separating the trapped cold dome from the warm onshore flow above, a jet parallel to the mountain at low levels, and an enhanced flow over the mountain near its crest. Apparently due to the lack of vertical resolution sufficient to capture such features operational numerical models exhibited substantial errors in this case.

Save