Marine Science Faculty Publications

The Formation of Multiple Squall Lines and the Impacts of WSR-88D Radial Winds in a WRF Simulation

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A detailed observational and Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model analysis utilizing Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D), surface, and upper-air observations, as well as Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) images, shows a chain of events that leads to the formation of two prefrontal squall lines along the western Gulf coast on 29–30 April 2005. An approaching surface cold front (CF) generated an atmospheric bore that propagated along an inversion layer and excited high-frequency, low-level tropospheric gravity waves, initiating a squall line 60 km east of the cold front. This sequence of events manifested itself as low-level convergence ahead of the CF, which was detected by nearby WSR-88D radars. Two WRF model experiments were conducted in which one assimilated conventional observations (CTRL), and another included radar radial winds from nine WSR-88D locations (denoted as RADAR). Better representation of the low-level kinematics in RADAR yielded a distinct convergence line associated with the primary squall line.

The RADAR experiment, as well as observations (such as an 0600 UTC Slidell, Louisiana, sounding), show that the secondary squall line formed ahead of the primary squall line due to high water vapor and warm temperature advection from the Gulf of Mexico that, when combined with a deep dry layer above the atmospheric boundary layer (ABL), destabilized the atmosphere. Concurrently, a lower-tropospheric trough, propagating faster than the surface front, enhanced lifting in the region and instigated the formation of new convection. RADAR forecasted the secondary convection not only in the right place but also at about the right time, while the CTRL experiment completely missed this secondary convection.

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Weather and Forecasting, v. 25, issue 1, p. 242-262