12th Conference on Cloud Physics


The spatial and temporal variability of nonfreezing drizzle in the United States and Canada

Addison L. Sears-Collins, Penn State Univ., University Park, PA; and D. M. Schultz and R. H. Johns

A climatology of nonfreezing drizzle is created using surface observations from 584 stations across the United States and Canada over the 15 years 19761990. Drizzle falls 50200 h a year in most locations in the eastern United States and Canada, whereas drizzle falls less than 50 h a year in the west, except for coastal Alaska and several western basins. The eastern and western halves of North America are separated by a strong gradient in drizzle frequency along roughly 100W, as large as about an hour a year over 2 km. Forty percent of the stations have a drizzle maximum from November to January, whereas only 13% of stations have a drizzle maximum from June to August. Drizzle occurrence exhibits a seasonal migration from eastern Canada and the central portion of the Northwest Territories in summer, equatorward to most of the eastern United States and southeast Canada in early winter, to southeastern Texas and the eastern United States in late winter, and back north to eastern Canada in the spring. The diurnal hourly frequency of drizzle across the United States and Canada increases sharply from 0900 UTC to 1200 UTC, followed by a steady decline from 1300 UTC to 2300 UTC. Diurnal drizzle frequency is maximum in the early morning, in agreement with other studies.

Drizzle occurs during a wide range of atmospheric conditions at the surface. Drizzle has occurred at sea level pressures below 960 hPa and above 1040 hPa. Most drizzle, however, occurs at higher than normal sea level pressure, with more than 64% occurring at a sea level pressure of 1015 hPa or higher. A third of all drizzle falls when the winds are from the northeast quadrant (36089), suggesting that continental drizzle events tend to be found poleward of surface warm fronts and equatorward of cold-sector surface anticyclones. Two-thirds of all drizzle occurs with wind speeds 2.06.9 m s-1, with 7.6% in calm wind and 5% at wind speeds greater than or equal to 10 m s-1. Most drizzle (61%) occurs with visibilities between 1.5 and 5.0 km, with only about 20% occurring at visibilities less than 1.5 km.

For more information, see http://www.cimms.ou.edu/~schultz/drizzle.

Poster Session 2, Cloud Physics Poster Session II
Wednesday, 12 July 2006, 5:00 PM-7:00 PM, Grand Terrace

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