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Title: Observed and Simulated Characteristics of Down-Valley Flow within Stratiform Precipitation over the Olympic Peninsula
Abstract

Midlatitude cyclones approaching coastal mountain ranges experience flow modifications on a variety of scales including orographic lift, blocking, mountain waves, and valley flows. During the 2015/16 Olympic Mountain Experiment (OLYMPEX), a pair of scanning ground radars observed precipitating clouds as they were modified by these orographically induced flows. The DOW radar, positioned to scan up the windward Quinault Valley, conducted RHI scans during 285 h of precipitation, 80% of which contained reversed, down-valley flow at lower levels. The existence of down-valley flow in the Quinault Valley was found to be well correlated with upstream flow blocking and the large-scale sea level pressure gradient orientated down the valley. Deep down-valley flow occurred in environments with high moist static stability and southerly winds, conditions that are common in prefrontal sectors of midlatitude cyclones in the coastal Pacific Northwest. Finally, a case study of prolonged down-valley flow in a prefrontal storm sector was simulated to investigate whether latent heat absorption (cooling) contributed to the event. Three experiments were conducted: a Control simulation and two simulations where the temperature tendencies from melting and evaporation were separately turned off. Results indicated that evaporative cooling had a stronger impact on the event’s down-valley flow than melting, likely because evaporation occurred within the low-level down-valley flow layer. Through these experiments, we show that evaporation helped prolong down-valley flow for several hours past the time of the event’s warm frontal passage.

Significance Statement

This paper analyzes the characteristics of down-valley flow over the windward Quinault Valley on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State using data from OLYMPEX, with an emphasis on regional pressure differences and blocking metrics. Results demonstrate that the location of precipitation over the Olympic Peninsula is shifted upstream during events with deep down-valley flow, consistent with blocked upstream airflow. A case study of down-valley flow highlights the role of evaporative cooling to prolong the flow reversal.

 
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Award ID(s):
2042105
NSF-PAR ID:
10415583
Author(s) / Creator(s):
 ;  ;  
Publisher / Repository:
American Meteorological Society
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Monthly Weather Review
Volume:
151
Issue:
6
ISSN:
0027-0644
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 1407-1426
Format(s):
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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