Combination of mesoscale and synoptic mechanisms for triggering an isolated thunderstorm: Observational case study of CSIP IOP 1

Cyril J. Morcrette, Humphrey Lean, Keith Browning, John Nicol, Nigel Roberts, Peter Clark, Andrew Russell, Alan Blyth

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    An isolated thunderstorm formed in the southern United Kingdom on 15 June 2005 and moved through the area where a large number of observational instruments were deployed as part of the Convective Storm Initiation Project. Earlier, a convergence line had formed downstream of Devon in the southwest of the United Kingdom in a southwesterly airflow, along which a series of light showers had formed. The depth of these showers was limited by a capping inversion, or lid, at around 2.5 km. The deep thunderstorm convection developed from one of these showers when the convection broke through the lid and ascended up to the next inversion, associated with a tropopause fold at around 6 km. A series of clear-air reflectivity RHIs are used to map the height of the capping inversion and its lifting resulting from the ascent along the convergence line. The origins of the lid are tracked back to some descent from the midtroposphere along dry adiabats. The strength of the lid was weaker along a northwest-to-southeast-oriented region located behind an overrunning upper cold front. The transition from shallow to deep convection occurred where this region with a weaker lid intersected the region with a raised lid, oriented southwest to northeast, downstream of Devon. A very high resolution forecast model that is being developed by the Met Office predicted the isolated thunderstorm successfully. This success depended on the accurate representation of the following two scales: the synoptic-scale and the surface-forced mesoscale convergence line. The interaction between these scales localized the convection sufficiently in space and time for the initiation and subsequent development to be highly predictable despite the relatively poor representation in the model of processes at the cloud scale. © 2007 American Meteorological Society.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)3728-3749
    Number of pages21
    JournalMonthly Weather Review
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2007


    • RADAR
    • MODEL


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