Using atmospheric trajectories to study complex winter storms: Two case studies from central North Carolina

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Christopher M. Fuhrmann, Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Winter precipitation is a major forecast challenge across the Southeast United States. Many winter storms in the region are often near a tipping point with regard to temperature, meaning that subtle changes in the vertical thermal profile can lead to significant changes in precipitation type and intensity. The objective of this poster presentation is to illustrate that the major processes and features associated with complex winter storms in the Southeast can be conceptually understood through analysis of atmospheric trajectories. This will be accomplished using three-dimensional air parcel trajectories produced from the NOAA-ARL “HYSPLIT” model interface for two case study events (one moderately heavy snowstorm and one major ice storm) in central North Carolina. The results of this work will illustrate the utility of atmospheric trajectory analysis in determining the physical processes that contribute to complex winter storms in the region, particularly those that evolve under similar background synoptic settings.