Synoptic versus orographic control on stationary convective banding.

A I Barrett, S. L. Gray, D. J. Kirshbaum, N. M. Roberts, D. M. Schultz, J G Fairman Jr

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Quasi-stationary convective bands can cause large localised rainfall accumulations and are often anchored by topographic features. Here, the predictability of and mechanisms causing one such band are determined using ensembles of the Met Office Unified Model at convection-permitting resolution (1.5 km grid length). The band was stationary over the UK for 3 h and produced rainfall accumulations of up to 34 mm. The amount and location of the predicted rainfall was highly variable despite only small differences between the large-scale conditions of the ensemble members. Only three of 21 members of the control ensemble produced a stationary rain band; these three had the weakest upstream winds and hence lowest Froude number. Band formation was due to the superposition of two processes: lee-side convergence resulting from flow around an upstream obstacle and thermally forced convergence resulting from elevated heating over the upstream terrain. Both mechanisms were enhanced when the Froude number was lower. By increasing the terrain height (thus reducing the Froude number), the band became more predictable. An ensemble approach is required to successfully predict the possible occurrence of such quasi-stationary convective events because the rainfall variability is largely modulated by small variations of the large-scale flow. However, high-resolution models are required to accurately resolve the small-scale interactions of the flow with the topography upon which the band formation depends. Thus, although topography provides some predictability, the quasi-stationary convective bands anchored by it are likely to remain a forecasting challenge for many years to come.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1101-1113
    Number of pages12
    JournalRoyal Meteorological Society. Quarterly Journal
    Publication statusPublished - 2015


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