2.1 Observations of Severe Storm Cold Pools and Environments (Invited Presentation)

Tuesday, 24 January 2017: 10:30 AM
Conference Center: Chelan 2 (Washington State Convention Center )
Yvette Richardson, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park, PA

Our current understanding of severe storm behavior is based on decades of theoretical, numerical, and observational studies.  Each method has its strengths and limitations.  During certain time periods, numerical simulations have been the dominant mode of discovery, but these periods are often followed by critical field campaigns to collect observations that can verify the modeling-based hypotheses and suggest new ones.  Data assimilation has become a way to blend together models and observations to capture the advantages of both.  Through all of these methods, we have come to the realization that storm behavior depends strongly on the environment (e.g., particular values of wind shear, CAPE, etc.) in which the storm forms.   As storms progress, the strength of the resulting cold pool influences processes such as baroclinic production of vorticity and storm system propagation.  Thus, predicting storm behavior depends on understanding the environmental properties and how those properties will influence internal storm dynamics.

In this presentation, we discuss the evolution of our understanding and the important role observations have played.  We examine the climatology of severe storm environments as derived from direct sounding observations and from model reanalyses.  We then explore the dynamics that link these storm environments to an enhanced risk of hazards.  We also document efforts to observe thermodynamic properties within the cold pools of severe storms using both mobile and stationary instruments.  These observations, while difficult to obtain, are crucial for evaluating our hypotheses regarding processes such as tornado formation.  Finally, we discuss crucial observations yet to be obtained that could revolutionize our understanding.

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