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  1. Abstract This study synthesizes the results of 13 high-resolution simulations of deep convective updrafts forming over idealized terrain using environments observed during the RELAMPAGO and CACTI field projects. Using composite soundings from multiple observed cases, and variations upon them, we explore the sensitivity of updraft properties (e.g., size, buoyancy, and vertical pressure gradient forces) to influences of environmental relative humidity, wind shear, and mesoscale orographic forcing that support or suppress deep convection initiation (CI). Emphasis is placed on differentiating physical processes affecting the development of updrafts (e.g., entrainment-driven dilution of updrafts) in environments typifying observed successful and null (i.e., no CI despite affirmative operational forecasts) CI events. Thermally-induced mesoscale orographic lift favors the production of deep updrafts originating from ∼1–2-km-wide boundary layer thermals. Simulations without terrain forcing required much larger ( ∼5-km-wide) thermals to yield precipitating convection. CI outcome was quite sensitive to environmental relative humidity; updrafts with increased buoyancy, depth, and intensity thrived in otherwise inhospitable environments by simply increasing the free tropospheric relative humidity. This implicates the entrainment of free-tropospheric air into updrafts as a prominent governor of CI, consistent with previous studies. Sensitivity of CI to the environmental wind is manifested by: 1) low-level flow affecting themore »strength and depth of mesoscale convergence along the terrain, and 2) clouds encountering updraft-suppressing pressure gradient forces while interacting with vertical wind shear in the free-troposphere. Among the ensemble of thermals occurring in each simulation, the widest deep updrafts in each simulation were the most sensitive to environmental influences.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 31, 2023
  2. Abstract A dry-air intrusion induced by the tropopause folding split the deep cloud into two layers resulting in a shallow orographic cloud with a supercooled liquid cloud top at around −15°C and an ice cloud above it on 19 January 2017 during the Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime Clouds: The Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE). The airborne AgI seeding of this case was simulated by the WRF Weather Modification (WRF-WxMod) Model with different configurations. Simulations at different grid spacing, driven by different reanalysis data, using different model physics were conducted to explore the ability of WRF-WxMod to capture the properties of natural and seeded clouds. The detailed model–observation comparisons show that the simulation driven by ERA5 data, using Thompson–Eidhammer microphysics with 30% of the CCN climatology, best captured the observed cloud structure and supercooled liquid water properties. The ability of the model to correctly capture the wind field was critical for successful simulation of the seeding plume locations. The seeding plume features and ice number concentrations within them from the large-eddy simulations (LES) are in better agreement with observations than non-LES runs mostly due to weaker AgI dispersion associated with the finer grid spacing. Seeding effects on precipitation amount and impacted areasmore »from LES seeding simulations agreed well with radar-derived values. This study shows that WRF-WxMod is able to simulate and quantify observed features of natural and seeded clouds given that critical observations are available to validate the model. Observation-constrained seeding ensemble simulations are proposed to quantify the AgI seeding impacts on wintertime orographic clouds. Significance Statement Recent observational work has demonstrated that the impact of airborne glaciogenic seeding of orographic supercooled liquid clouds is detectable and can be quantified in terms of the extra ground precipitation. This study aims, for the first time, to simulate this seeding impact for one well-observed case. The stakes are high: if the model performs well in this case, then seasonal simulations can be conducted with appropriate configurations after validations against observations, to determine the impact of a seeding program on the seasonal mountain snowpack and runoff, with more fidelity than ever. High–resolution weather simulations inherently carry uncertainty. Within the envelope of this uncertainty, the model compares very well to the field observations.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available April 1, 2023
  3. Abstract Data from scanning radars, radiosondes, and vertical profilers deployed during three field campaigns are analyzed to study interactions between cloud-scale updrafts associated with initiating deep moist convection and the surrounding environment. Three cases are analyzed in which the radar networks permitted dual-Doppler wind retrievals in clear air preceding and during the onset of surface precipitation. These observations capture the evolution of: i) the mesoscale and boundary layer flow, and ii) low-level updrafts associated with deep moist convection initiation (CI) events yielding sustained or short-lived precipitating storms. The elimination of convective inhibition did not distinguish between sustained and unsustained CI events, though the vertical distribution of convective available potential energy may have played a role. The clearest signal differentiating the initiation of sustained versus unsustained precipitating deep convection was the depth of the low-level horizontal wind convergence associated with the mesoscale flow feature triggering CI, a sharp surface wind shift boundary or orographic upslope flow. The depth of the boundary layer relative to the height of the LFC failed to be a consistent indicator of CI potential. Widths of the earliest detectable low-level updrafts associated with sustained precipitating deep convection were ~3-5 km, larger than updrafts associated with surrounding boundarymore »layer turbulence (~1-3-km wide). It is hypothesized that updrafts of this larger size are important for initiating cells to survive the destructive effects of buoyancy dilution via entrainment.« less
  4. Abstract The Remote Sensing of Electrification, Lightning, and Mesoscale/Microscale Processes with Adaptive Ground Observations (RELAMPAGO) and Cloud, Aerosol, and Complex Terrain Interactions (CACTI) projects deployed a high-spatiotemporal-resolution radiosonde network to examine environments supporting deep convection in the complex terrain of central Argentina. This study aims to characterize atmospheric profiles most representative of the near-cloud environment (in time and space) to identify the mesoscale ingredients affecting storm initiation and growth. Spatiotemporal autocorrelation analysis of the soundings reveals that there is considerable environmental heterogeneity, with boundary layer thermodynamic and kinematic fields becoming statistically uncorrelated on scales of 1–2 h and 30 km. Using this as guidance, we examine a variety of environmental parameters derived from soundings collected within close proximity (30 km in space and 30 min in time) of 44 events over 9 days where the atmosphere either: 1) supported the initiation of sustained precipitating convection, 2) yielded weak and short-lived precipitating convection, or 3) produced no precipitating convection in disagreement with numerical forecasts from convection-allowing models (i.e., Null events). There are large statistical differences between the Null event environments and those supporting any convective precipitation. Null event profiles contained larger convective available potential energy, but had low free-tropospheric relative humidity,more »higher freezing levels, and evidence of limited horizontal convergence near the terrain at low levels that likely suppressed deep convective growth. We also present evidence from the radiosonde and satellite measurements that flow–terrain interactions may yield gravity wave activity that affects CI outcome.« less
  5. Abstract The spatial distribution and magnitude of snowfall resulting from cloud seeding with silver iodide (AgI) is closely linked to atmospheric conditions, seeding operations, and dynamical, thermodynamical, and microphysical processes. Here, microphysical processes leading to ice and snow production are analyzed in orographic clouds for three cloud-seeding events, each with light or no natural precipitation and well-defined, traceable seeding lines. Airborne and ground-based radar observations are linked to in situ cloud and precipitation measurements to determine the spatiotemporal evolution of ice initiation, particle growth, and snow fallout in seeded clouds. These processes and surface snow amounts are explored as particle plumes evolve from varying amounts of AgI released, and within changing environmental conditions, including changes in liquid water content (LWC) along and downwind of the seeding track, wind speed, and shear. More AgI did not necessarily produce more liquid equivalent snowfall (LESnow). The greatest amount of LESnow, largest area covered by snowfall, and highest peak snowfall produced through seeding occurred on the day with the largest and most widespread occurrence of supercooled drizzle, highest wind shear, and greater LWC along and downwind of the seeding track. The day with the least supercooled drizzle and the lowest LWC downwind of themore »seeding track produced the smallest amount of LESnow through seeding. The stronger the wind was, the farther away the snowfall occurred from the seeding track.« less
  6. Abstract Thunderstorms that produce hail accumulations at the surface can impact residents by obstructing roadways, closing airports, and causing localized flooding from hail-clogged drainages. These storms have recently gained an increased interest within the scientific community. However, differences that are observable in real time between these storms and storms that produce nonimpactful hail accumulations have yet to be documented. Similarly, the characteristics within a single storm that are useful to quantify or predict hail accumulations are not fully understood. This study uses lightning and dual-polarization radar data to characterize hail accumulations from three storms that occurred on the same day along the Colorado–Wyoming Front Range. Each storm’s characteristics are verified against radar-derived hail accumulation maps and in situ observations. The storms differed in maximum accumulation, either producing 22 cm, 7 cm, or no accumulation. The magnitude of surface hail accumulations is found to be dependent on a combination of in-cloud hail production, storm translation speed, and hailstone melting. The optimal combination for substantial hail accumulations is enhanced in-cloud hail production, slow storm speed, and limited hailstone melting. However, during periods of similar in-cloud hail production, lesser accumulations are derived when storm speed and/or hailstone melting, identified by radar presentation, ismore »sufficiently large. These results will aid forecasters in identifying when hail accumulations are occurring in real time.« less
  7. Climate change and population growth have increased demand for water in arid regions. For over half a century, cloud seeding has been evaluated as a technology to increase water supply; statistical approaches have compared seeded to nonseeded events through precipitation gauge analyses. Here, a physically based approach to quantify snowfall from cloud seeding in mountain cloud systems is presented. Areas of precipitation unambiguously attributed to cloud seeding are isolated from natural precipitation (<1 mm h−1). Spatial and temporal evolution of precipitation generated by cloud seeding is then quantified using radar observations and snow gauge measurements. This study uses the approach of combining radar technology and precipitation gauge measurements to quantify the spatial and temporal evolution of snowfall generated from glaciogenic cloud seeding of winter mountain cloud systems and its spatial and temporal evolution. The results represent a critical step toward quantifying cloud seeding impact. For the cases presented, precipitation gauges measured increases between 0.05 and 0.3 mm as precipitation generated by cloud seeding passed over the instruments. The total amount of water generated by cloud seeding ranged from 1.2 × 105m3(100 ac ft) for 20 min of cloud seeding, 2.4 × 105m3(196 ac ft) for 86 min of seeding tomore »3.4 x 105m3(275 ac ft) for 24 min of cloud seeding.

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  8. Abstract This paper reviews research conducted over the last six decades to understand and quantify the efficacy of wintertime orographic cloud seeding to increase winter snowpack and water supplies within a mountain basin. The fundamental hypothesis underlying cloud seeding as a method to enhance precipitation from wintertime orographic cloud systems is that a cloud’s natural precipitation efficiency can be enhanced by converting supercooled water to ice upstream and over a mountain range in such a manner that newly created ice particles can grow and fall to the ground as additional snow on a specified target area. The review summarizes the results of physical, statistical, and modeling studies aimed at evaluating this underlying hypothesis, with a focus on results from more recent experiments that take advantage of modern instrumentation and advanced computation capabilities. Recent advances in assessment and operations are also reviewed, and recommendations for future experiments, based on the successes and failures of experiments of the past, are given.
  9. Abstract In recent years, hail accumulations from thunderstorms have occurred frequently enough to catch the attention of the National Weather Service, the general public, and news agencies. Despite the extreme nature of these thunderstorms, no mechanism is currently in place to obtain adequate reports, measurements, or forecasts of accumulated hail depth. To better identify and forecast hail accumulations, the Colorado Hail Accumulation from Thunderstorms (CHAT) project was initiated in 2016 with the goals of collecting improved and more frequent hail depth reports on the ground as well as studying characteristics of storms that produce hail accumulations in Colorado. A desired outcome of this research is to identify predictors for hail-producing thunderstorms typically occurring along the Colorado Front Range that might be used as operational nowcast products in the future. During the 2016 convective season, we asked amateur meteorologists to send general information, photos, and videos on hail depth using social media. They submitted over 58 reports in Colorado with information on location, time, depth, and areal coverage of hail accumulations. We have analyzed dual-polarization radar and lightning mapping array data from 32 thunderstorms in Colorado, which produced between 0.5 and 50 cm of hail accumulation on the ground, to identifymore »characteristics unique to storms with hail accumulations. This preliminary analysis shows how enhanced in-cloud hail presence and surface accumulation can be tracked throughout the lifetime of a thunderstorm using dual-polarization radar and lightning data, and how hail accumulation events are associated with large in-cloud ice water content, long hailfall duration, or a combination of these.« less