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Snowfall Associated with a Terrain-Generated Convergence Zone during the Winter Icing and Storm Project

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  • 1 Research Applications Program, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

The Longmont anticyclone, a region of low-level anticyclonic turning and convergence during episodes of northerly winds along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, is documented for a snow event that occurred during the Winter Icing and Storms Project. The complex terrain in this region, especially the barrier to the west and the sloping Cheyenne Ridge to the north, is critical for the formation of this mesoscale feature. Upward motions related to this persistent convergent region downstream of the Cheyenne Ridge can strongly influence local snowfall distributions. The particular event studied in this manuscript was weakly forced on the synoptic scale. Through close examination of Doppler radar, special sounding and surface mesonetwork data, the effects of the Longmont anticyclone on snowfall were determined. The results of the analyses suggest that the convergence triggered convective snowbands in a region of delayed postfrontal cold advection at low levels. A series of mesoscale model simulations predicted the behavior of low-level northerly flow along the Front Range and demonstrated the role of the terrain during the development of the Longmont anticyclone. The results of these simulations were compared to the case study results.

Abstract

The Longmont anticyclone, a region of low-level anticyclonic turning and convergence during episodes of northerly winds along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, is documented for a snow event that occurred during the Winter Icing and Storms Project. The complex terrain in this region, especially the barrier to the west and the sloping Cheyenne Ridge to the north, is critical for the formation of this mesoscale feature. Upward motions related to this persistent convergent region downstream of the Cheyenne Ridge can strongly influence local snowfall distributions. The particular event studied in this manuscript was weakly forced on the synoptic scale. Through close examination of Doppler radar, special sounding and surface mesonetwork data, the effects of the Longmont anticyclone on snowfall were determined. The results of the analyses suggest that the convergence triggered convective snowbands in a region of delayed postfrontal cold advection at low levels. A series of mesoscale model simulations predicted the behavior of low-level northerly flow along the Front Range and demonstrated the role of the terrain during the development of the Longmont anticyclone. The results of these simulations were compared to the case study results.

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