The influence of the coastal front on heavy rainfall events along the east coast
Coastal fronts are commonly found along the East Coast of the United States and can often be associated with intense rainfall and flooding due to elevated convection on the cold side of the boundary. Five heavy rainfall events ([greater to or equal than] 250 mm 24 hr-1) during the fall months along the East Coast were investigated using numerical weather prediction (NWP) models to determine the influence of an upper-level trough/cut-off low, an offshore tropical cyclone, a frontal boundary, and a moisture plume on the intense precipitation. Using experimental NWP simulations, it was determined that the tropical cyclone had an impact on the moisture plume and subsequent location of precipitation due to an associated deformation zone. The tropical cyclone prolonged the events by 6 hours, but inhibited the amount of moisture and resulting precipitation by deterring southeasterly flow. Evaporation from precipitation (surface heat fluxes) contributed to less than 25% (33%) of the precipitation, while latent heat release had the largest impact on the rain totals due to positive feedback from convection and an influence on the frontal boundary. Terrain also impacted the frontal boundary in each event, altering precipitation totals. Parcel trajectories confirmed regions of frontogenesis to be the main source of lift for the release of gravitational instability and convective initiation in each event, while the extratropical cyclone provided upper-level support for ascent and organized the plume of deep tropospheric moisture perpendicular to the front. Three of the five events lasted multiple days due to negative PV advection by the irrotational wind, in response to latent heat release in the region of convection, acting to slow the propagation of the upper-level low.
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