Heavy precipitation associated with elevated thunderstorms formed in a convectively unstable layer aloft
Two case studies in which elevated thunderstorms played an important role in enhancing precipitation totals are discussed. During the period 20-22 February 1993, elevated thunderstorms over Iowa produced a mesoscale band of snow with amounts in excess of 25 cm across north central Iowa. Diagnosis of the environment revealed an elevated layer of convective instability between 700 and 540 hPa above a well-defined frontal zone. Elevated, upright convection resulted from the release of the convective instability as air parcels, ascending isentropically over the frontal zone, reached saturation. A second case, in which heavy rain (greater than 50 mm in 24 h) fell over parts of Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri during the period 27-28 April 1994, is also examined. Once again, elevated thunderstorms resulted from the ascent of an elevated layer of convective instability over a strong baroclinic zone. Positive CAPE values are found by lifting air parcels having the maximum equivalent potential temperature in the lower portion of the troposphere, whereas no available energy is diagnosed for surface parcels. While both cases strongly resemble the climatology of elevated thunderstorms, these case studies suggest that convective instability aloft released by isentropic ascent, rather than frontogenetical forcing in the presence of weak symmetric stability, can result in heavy precipitation.
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
Moore, James T.; Czarnetzki, Alan C.; and Market, Patrick S., "Heavy precipitation associated with elevated thunderstorms formed in a convectively unstable layer aloft" (1998). Faculty Publications. 3956.