Climatological Thermodynamic Analysis of Elevated Nocturnal Mesoscale Convective Systems on the Great Plains

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Jessica J. Choate, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL

On the Great Plains, Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCSs) have been observed to persist after sunset as elevated storm systems. Despite the injuries and fatalities produced by the torrential rains, high winds, hail, intense electrical activity and even tornadoes that accompany these nocturnal MCSs, operational models have little skill in predicting their propagation or providing accurate quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs). In 2015, the Plains Elevated Convection At Night (PECAN) project will observe nocturnal MCSs to discover how downdraft strength plays a role in the maintenance, propagation, and severity of these storm systems. In this presentation, a climatological analysis of four years (2010 2013) of nocturnal elevated convection will be shown. This climatology will focus on the position of the nocturnal jet, the thermodynamic (CAPE, CIN, RH) and wind (0-3 km and 0-6 km bulk shear, and system-relative flow) profiles of the troposphere, radar reflectivity analyses, and the position and strength of surface fronts to characterize the ideal environment for persistent nocturnal MCS development. This research aims to provide deeper insight into the climatology of these storms to improve forecasts of nocturnal severe thunderstorm and flash flood watches.