Analysis of severe elevated thunderstorms over frontal surfaces using DCIN and DCAPE
A 10-year study of elevated severe thunderstorms was performed using The National Centers for Environmental Information Storm Events Database. A total of 80 elevated thunderstorm cases were identified, verified, and divided into "Prolific" and "Marginal" classes. These severe cases occurred at least 80 km away from, and on the cold side of, a surface boundary. The downdraft convective available potential energy (DCAPE), downdraft convective inhibition (DCIN), and their ratio are tools to help estimate the potential for a downdraft to penetrate through the depth of a stable surface layer. The hypothesis is that as the DCIN/DCAPE ratio decreases, there exists enhanced possibility of severe surface winds. Using the initial fields from the Rapid Refresh numerical weather prediction model, datasets of DCIN, DCAPE, and their ratio were created. Mann-Whitney U tests on the Prolific versus Marginal case sets were undertaken to determine if the DCAPE and DCIN values come from different populations for the two different case sets. Results show that the Prolific cases have values of DCIN closer to zero, suggesting the downdraft is able to penetrate to the surface causing severe winds. Thus, comparing DCIN and DCAPE is a viable tool in determining if downdrafts will reach the surface from elevated thunderstorms.
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