School of Meteorology (Defense)

The Value of High-Resolution Spatiotemporal Analyses in the Short-Term Forecasting of Convective Initiation

Matthew Stalley
OU School of Meteorology

18 April 2014, 1:00 PM

National Weather Center, Room 4140
120 David L. Boren Blvd.
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK

Identifying the exact time and location of convective initiation often is a challenge for meteorologists due to an incomplete understanding of the complex physical processes involved. By successfully monitoring contributing factors for convective initiation at a high spatial and temporal resolution, forecasters can formulate a more accurate conceptual model of the environment leading to increased situational awareness.

In order to demonstrate the value of high resolution analysis, four case studies of convective initiation in Oklahoma were selected for examination. Three cases from 2010 including May 10th, May 19th, and April 6th were chosen as well as a fourth case from 20 May 2013. Analyses were created using ADAS and 3DVAR by assimilating surface mesonet observations and radar data with a time-interpolated NAM forecast background field at a temporal resolution of 5 minutes and a grid spacing of 400 meters.

All four cases featured dryline convection of various intensities. A more detailed conceptual model of the dryline was produced including the presence of a “mixing line” marked by a sharp gradient in equivalent potential temperature east of the primary dryline. This additional surface feature appeared to play a significant role in the initiation and maintenance of convective cells within and in the vicinity of the dryline zone. The value of these high resolution analysis products was displayed through the ability to diagnose contributing factors for convective initiation and identify locations where convection would eventually occur.

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