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Title: Springtime Onset of Isolated Convection Precipitation across the Southeastern United States: Framework and Regional Evolution

This study examines the geographic and temporal characteristics of the springtime transition to the summer precipitation regime of isolated convection in the southeastern (SE) United States during 2009–12, using a high-resolution surface radar-based precipitation dataset. Isolated convection refers herein to isolated elements or small clusters of precipitation in radar imagery less than 100 km in horizontal dimension. Though the SE United States does not have a monsoon climate, it is useful to apply the established framework of monsoon onset to study the timing and regional variation of the onset of the summer isolated convection regime. Overall, isolated convection rain onset in the SE U.S. domain occurs in late May. Onset begins in south Florida in mid-April, continuing nearly simultaneously across the southeastern coastal plain in early to mid-May. In the northern domain, from Virginia to the Ohio Valley, onset generally occurs much later (mid-June to early July) with more variable onset timing. The sharpness of onset timing is most evident in the coastal plain and Florida. Results suggest the hypothesis, to be examined in a forthcoming study, that the timing of isolated convection onset in the spring may be triggered by specific synoptic-scale events within gradual seasonal changes in atmospheric more » conditions including extratropical cyclone tracks, convective instability, and the westward migration of the North Atlantic subtropical high. This approach may offer a useful framework for evaluating long-term changes in precipitation for subtropical regimes in an observational and modeling context.

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Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Monthly Weather Review
Page Range or eLocation-ID:
p. 891-906
American Meteorological Society
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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