3.3 Lake and Orographic Effects on a Snowstorm at Lake Constance

Monday, 27 June 2016: 2:00 PM
Adirondack ABC (Hilton Burlington )
Lukas Umek, University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria; and A. Gohm

This is one of the first case studies of a snowstorm at Lake Constance, located between Austria, Germany and Switzerland, which assesses the influence of the lake and the orography on the generation of heavy precipitation. The analysis is based on surface and radar observations and numerical simulations with the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model.

On 08 February 2013, a rather stationary and banded radar reflectivity pattern was observed during postfrontal conditions with northwesterly flow. The associated snowband affected the downstream shore and the adjacent mountainous region with 36 mm of precipitation within 5 hours at the shore. Surface observations revealed a low-level convergence between the northern and southern lakeshore during the period of banded precipitation. The control simulation captures the formation of a convergence line and a snowband near the northeastern shoreline and over the downstream orography. A lake-induced, low-level conditionally unstable layer is essential for the snowband formation. Orographically and thermally-induced convergence provides the lifting to release conditional instability and to trigger convection. Orographic enhancement of precipitation occurs downstream of the lake.

Sensitivity experiments with modified orography, land-use and lake surface temperature show that the lake is a crucial factor controlling the amount and distribution of snowfall. However, neither the lake nor the orography alone would have been able to form a snowband. This study highlights the complex interaction between lake and orographic effects and shows that Lake Constance is large enough to impact the formation of precipitation.

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