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  1. Abstract Airborne vertically profiling Doppler radar data and output from a ∼1-km-grid-resolution numerical simulation are used to examine how relatively small-scale terrain ridges (∼10–25 km apart and ∼0.5–1.0 km above the surrounding valleys) impact cross-mountain flow, cloud processes, and surface precipitation in deep stratiform precipitation systems. The radar data were collected along fixed flight tracks aligned with the wind, about 100 km long between the Snake River Plain and the Idaho Central Mountains, as part of the 2017 Seeded and Natural Orographic Wintertime clouds: the Idaho Experiment (SNOWIE). Data from repeat flight legs are composited in order to suppress transient features and retain the effect of the underlying terrain. Simulations closely match observed series of terrain-driven deep gravity waves, although the simulated wave amplitude is slightly exaggerated. The deep waves produce pockets of supercooled liquid water in the otherwise ice-dominated clouds (confirmed by flight-level observations and the model) and distort radar-derived hydrometeor trajectories. Snow particles aloft encounter several wave updrafts and downdrafts before reaching the ground. No significant wavelike modulation of radar reflectivity or model ice water content occurs. The model does indicate substantial localized precipitation enhancement (1.8–3.0 times higher than the mean) peaking just downwind of individual ridges, especially those ridges with the most intense wave updrafts, on account of shallow pockets of high liquid water content on the upwind side, leading to the growth of snow and graupel, falling out mostly downwind of the crest. Radar reflectivity values near the surface are complicated by snowmelt, but suggest a more modest enhancement downwind of individual ridges. Significance Statement Mountains in the midlatitude belt and elsewhere receive more precipitation than the surrounding lowlands. The mountain terrain often is complex, and it remains unclear exactly where this precipitation enhancement occurs, because weather radars are challenged by beam blockage and the gauge network is too sparse to capture the precipitation heterogeneity over complex terrain. This study uses airborne profiling radar and high-resolution numerical simulations for four winter storms over a series of ridges in Idaho. One key finding is that while instantaneous airborne radar transects of the cross-mountain flow, vertical drafts, and reflectivity contain much transient small-scale information, time-averaged transects look very much like the model transects. The model indicates substantial surface precipitation enhancement over terrain, peaking over and just downwind of individual ridges. Radar observations suggest less enhancement, but the radar-based assessment is uncertain. The second key conclusion is that, even though orographic gravity waves are felt all the way up into the upper troposphere, the orographic precipitation enhancement is due to processes very close to the terrain. 
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  2. Abstract Properties of frozen hydrometeors in clouds remain difficult to sense remotely. Estimates of number concentration, distribution shape, ice particle density, and ice water content are essential for connecting cloud processes to surface precipitation. Progress has been made with dual-frequency radars, but validation has been difficult because of lack of particle imaging and sizing observations collocated with the radar measurements. Here, data are used from two airborne profiling (up and down) radars, the W-band Wyoming Cloud Radar and the Ka-band Profiling Radar, allowing for Ka–W-band dual-wavelength ratio (DWR) profiles. The aircraft (the University of Wyoming King Air) also carried a suite of in situ cloud and precipitation probes. This arrangement is optimal for relating the “flight-level” DWR (an average from radar gates below and above flight level) to ice particle size distributions measured by in situ optical array probes, as well as bulk properties such as minimum snow particle density and ice water content. This comparison reveals a strong relationship between DWR and the ice particle median-volume diameter. An optimal range of DWR values ensures the highest retrieval confidence, bounded by the radars’ relative calibration and DWR saturation, found here to be about 2.5–7.5 dB. The DWR-defined size distribution shape is used with a Mie scattering model and an experimental mass–diameter relationship to test retrievals of ice particle concentration and ice water content. Comparison with flight-level cloud-probe data indicate good performance, allowing microphysical interpretations for the rest of the vertical radar transects. 
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  3. Abstract Kelvin-Helmholtz (KH) waves are a frequent source of turbulence in stratiform precipitation systems over mountainous terrain. KH waves introduce large eddies into otherwise laminar flow, with updrafts and downdrafts generating small-scale turbulence. When they occur in-cloud, such dynamics influence microphysical processes that impact precipitation growth and fallout. Part I of this paper used dual-Doppler, 2D wind and reflectivity measurements from an airborne cloud radar to demonstrate the occurrence of KH waves in stratiform orographic precipitation systems and identified four mechanisms for triggering KH waves. In Part II, we use similar observations to explore the effects of KH wave updrafts and turbulence on cloud microphysics. Measurements within KH wave updrafts reveal the production of liquid water in otherwise ice-dominated clouds, which can contribute to snow generation or enhancement via depositional and accretional growth. Fallstreaks beneath KH waves contain higher ice water content, composed of larger and more numerous ice particles, suggesting that KH waves and associated turbulence may also increase ice nucleation. A Large-Eddy Simulation (LES), designed to model the microphysical response to the KH wave eddies in mixed phase cloud, shows that depositional and accretional growth can be enhanced in KH waves, resulting in more precipitation when compared to a baseline simulation. While sublimation and evaporation occur in KH downdrafts, persistent supersaturation with respect to ice allows for net increase in ice mass. These modeling results and observations suggest that KH waves embedded in mixed-phase stratiform clouds may increase precipitation, although the quantitative impact remains uncertain. 
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  4. null (Ed.)
    Abstract This observational study documents the consequences of a collision between two converging shallow atmospheric boundaries over the central Great Plains on the evening of 7 June 2015. This study uses data from a profiling airborne Raman lidar (the Compact Raman Lidar, or CRL) and other airborne and ground-based data collected during the Plains Elevated Convection At Night (PECAN) field campaign to investigate the collision between a weak cold front and the outflow from a MCS. The collision between these boundaries led to the lofting of high-CAPE, low-CIN air, resulting in deep convection, as well as an undular bore. Both boundaries behaved as density currents prior to collision. Because the MCS outflow boundary was denser and less deep than the cold-frontal airmass, the bore propagated over the latter. This bore was tracked by the CRL for about three hours as it traveled north over the shallow cold-frontal surface and evolved into a soliton. This case study is unique by using the high temporal and spatial resolution of airborne Raman lidar measurements to describe the thermodynamic structure of interacting boundaries and a resulting bore. 
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  5. Abstract

    Small-scale variations within the low-level outflow and inflow of an MCS can either support or deter the upscale growth and maintenance of the MCS. However, these small-scale variations, in particular in the thermodynamics (temperature and humidity), remain poorly understood, due to a lack of detailed measurements. The compact Raman lidar (CRL) deployed on the University of Wyoming King Air aircraft directly sampled temperature and water vapor profiles at unprecedented vertical and along-track resolutions along the southern margin of a series of mature nocturnal MCSs traveling along a frontal boundary on 1 July 2015 during the Plains Elevated Convection at Night (PECAN) campaign. Here, the capability of the airborne CRL to document interactions between the MCS inflow and outflow currents is illustrated. The CRL reveals the well-defined boundary of a cooler current. This is interpreted as the frontal boundary sharpened by convectively induced cold pools, in particular by the outflow boundary of the downstream MCS. In one CRL transect, the frontal/outflow boundary appeared as a distinct two-layer structure of moisture and aerosols formed by moist stable boundary layer air advected above the boundary. The second transect, one hour later, reveals a single sloping boundary. In both cases, the lofting of the moist stably stratified air over the boundary favors MCS maintenance, through enhanced elevated CAPE and reduced CIN. The CRL data are sufficiently resolved to reveal Kelvin–Helmholtz (KH) billows and the vertical structure of the outflow boundary, which in this case behaved as a density current rather than an undular bore.

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