23 Realistic Simulations of Microbursts using the WRF Model

Monday, 20 June 2016
Alta-Deer Valley (Sheraton Salt Lake City Hotel)
Patrick Hawbecker, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC; and S. Basu and L. Manuel

Microbursts producing severe, low-level winds have been attributed as the cause of damage to property and loss of life ever since their characterization and naming by Dr. Ted Fujita in 1981. Specifically, microbursts have been responsible for various fatal plane crashes (e.g. Delta Airlines flight 191 in Dallas, TX, 1985 which had 137 fatalities), structural damage to private and commercial property worldwide, and most recently with the newly emerging field of wind power, severe damage to wind turbines. This meteorological phenomenon has been the subject of research in both the observational and modeling communities. However, due to their small scale, by definition, of < 4 km, mesoscale models must be pushed to their very limit of conventional applicability if there is hope to resolve microbursts.

In this study, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used as a high-resolution mesoscale model to simulate various classical storms. Several planetary boundary layer and surface layer schemes are tested to document the performance in recreating environmental and storm structure. Model results are compared to environmental soundings, radar, satellite, and/or station observation where applicable.

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