Comma Cloud Development and Associated Rapid Cyclogenesis over the Gulf of Alaska: A Case Study Using Aircraft and Operational Data

View More View Less
  • 1 Department of Marine, Earth, and Atmospheric Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
  • | 2 NOAA/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Seattle, Washington
© Get Permissions
Full access

Abstract

The NOAA P-3 aircraft was used to collect data in a genesis region for mesoscale comma clouds over the Gulf of Alaska. Aircraft measurements in the genesis region showed that rainbands with spacings of 65–75 km and orientations along the mean wind shear were present. Possible mechanisms for the formation of the rainbands, including conditional symmetric instability (CSI) and modified wave-CISK were investigated, but the data did not allow the formation of the rainbands to be conclusively ascribed to a particular mechanism. The existence of low static stability in the genesis region was also documented and its role in mesoscale comma-cloud development explored.

Careful analysis of images from NOAA polar orbiter and GOES satellites together with synoptic analyses made it possible to trace the life cycles of several mesoscale comma clouds as the genesis region moved across the Gulf of Alaska. As the genesis region approached a preexisting polar frontal cloud band, a wave cyclone formed on the front and absorbed one of the comma clouds. The resulting cyclone central pressure dropped 25 mb in 12 hours. The intensity of this development was underestimated by operational forecast models.

Abstract

The NOAA P-3 aircraft was used to collect data in a genesis region for mesoscale comma clouds over the Gulf of Alaska. Aircraft measurements in the genesis region showed that rainbands with spacings of 65–75 km and orientations along the mean wind shear were present. Possible mechanisms for the formation of the rainbands, including conditional symmetric instability (CSI) and modified wave-CISK were investigated, but the data did not allow the formation of the rainbands to be conclusively ascribed to a particular mechanism. The existence of low static stability in the genesis region was also documented and its role in mesoscale comma-cloud development explored.

Careful analysis of images from NOAA polar orbiter and GOES satellites together with synoptic analyses made it possible to trace the life cycles of several mesoscale comma clouds as the genesis region moved across the Gulf of Alaska. As the genesis region approached a preexisting polar frontal cloud band, a wave cyclone formed on the front and absorbed one of the comma clouds. The resulting cyclone central pressure dropped 25 mb in 12 hours. The intensity of this development was underestimated by operational forecast models.

Save