Insights into the evolving microphysical and kinematic structure of northeastern U.S. winter storms from dual-Polarization doppler radar

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20 Scopus citations

Abstract

The recent Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) network upgrade to dual-polarization capabilities allows for bulk characterization ofmicrophysical processes in northeasternU.S.winter storms for the first time. In this study, the quasi-vertical profile (QVP) technique (wherein data from a given elevation angle scan are azimuthally averaged and the range coordinate is converted to height) is extended and applied to polarimetric WSR-88D observations of six Northeast winter storms to survey their evolving, bulk vertical microphysical and kinematic structures. These analyses are supplemented using hourly analyses from the Rapid Refresh (RAP) model. Regions of ascent inferred from QVPs were consistently associated with notable polarimetric signatures, implying planar crystal growthwhen near -15°C, and riming and secondary ice production at higher temperatures. The heaviest snowfall occurred most often when ascent and enhanced propagation differential phase shift (φDP) occurred near -15°C. When available, limited surface observations confirmed heavy snowfall rates and revealed large snow-to-liquid ratios at these times. Other cases revealed sudden, large melting-layer excursions associated with precipitation-type transitions near the surface. RAP analyses failed to capture such complex evolution, demonstrating the added value of dual-polarization radar observations in these scenarios and the potential use of radar data for assessing model performance in real time. These insights are a preliminary step toward better understanding the complex processes in northeastern U.S. winter storms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1033-1061
Number of pages29
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Volume145
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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