Journal article Open Access

A Preliminary Study of Severe Wind-Producing MCSs in Environments of Limited Moisture

Corfidi, Stephen F.; Corfidi, Sarah J.; Imy, David A.; Logan, Allen L.

An examination of severe wind-producing mesoscale convective systems that occur in environments of very limited moisture is presented. Such systems, herein referred to as low-dewpoint derechos (LDDs), are difficult to forecast as they form in regions where the level of convective instability is well below that normally associated with severe convective weather. Using a dataset consisting of 12 LDDs that affected various parts of the continental United States, composite surface and upper-level analyses are constructed. These are used to identify factors that appear to be associated with LDD initiation and sustenance. It is shown that LDDs occur in mean kinematic and thermodynamic patterns notably different from those associated with most derechos. LDDs typically form along or just ahead of cold fronts, in the exit region of strong, upper-level jet streaks. Based on the juxtaposition of features in the composite analysis, it appears that linear forcing for ascent provided by the front, and/or ageostrophic circulations associated with the jet streak, induce the initial convective development where the lower levels are relatively dry, but lapse rates are steep. This convection subsequently grows upscale as storm downdrafts merge. The data further suggest that downstream cell propagation follows in the form of sequential, downwind-directed microbursts. Largely unidirectional wind profiles promote additional downwind-directed storm development and system sustenance until the LDD ultimately moves beyond the region supportive of forced convective initiation.

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