ESRL/PSD Seminar Series

Kinematic and Thermodynamic Structures of Sierra Barrier Jets and Overrunning Atmospheric Rivers during a Land-falling Winter Storm in Northern California

David Kingsmill
Physical Sciences Division, NOAA/ESRL, Boulder, Colorado

Abstract


This study characterizes kinematic and thermodynamic structures of Sierra barrier jets (SBJs), atmospheric rivers (ARs), and their interaction over the period 14-16 February 2011 when a winter storm made landfall in northern California. A suite of scanning and profiling Doppler radars, rawinsondes and GPS receivers is used to document these structures across the Central Valley and up the western Sierra slope to the crest along an ~200-km segment of the Sierra. The winter storm is grouped into two episodes, each having an AR that made landfall. Low-level winds in the SBJ observed during Episode 1 were southeasterly and embedded in a stably stratified air mass. Along-barrier wind speeds (U340) reached maximum values of 25-30 m s-1, as low as ~0.2 km MSL over the Central Valley, and as high as ~1.5 km MSL over the western Sierra slope. Southwesterly winds associated with the AR overlaid the SBJ along an interface that sloped upward from southwest to northeast with a southwestern extent at the western edge of the Central Valley. In contrast, low-level winds in the SBJ observed during Episode 2 were more southerly and embedded in a less stable air mass. U340 reached maximum values that were slightly weaker (~20-25 m s-1) and spread over a thicker layer that extended to higher levels over the western Sierra (~2.5 km MSL). Southwesterly winds associated with the AR overlaying the SBJ tilted upward from southwest to northeast with a steeper slope but did not extend as far southwest.


1D-403
Friday, Dec 14 2012
2:00pm
Seminar Coordinator: shawn.dowd@noaa.gov


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