An Observational Examination of Long-Lived Supercells. Part II: Environmental Conditions and Forecasting

Matthew J. Bunkers, Jeffrey S. Johnson, Lee J. Czepyha, Jason M. Grzywacz, Brian A. Klimowski, Mark R. Hjelmfelt
2006 Weather and forecasting  
The local and larger-scale environments of 184 long-lived supercell events (containing one or more supercells with lifetimes Ն4 h; see Part I of this paper) are investigated and subsequently compared with those from 137 moderate-lived events (average supercell lifetime 2-4 h) and 119 short-lived events (average supercell lifetime Յ2 h) to better anticipate supercell longevity in the operational setting. Consistent with many previous studies, long-lived supercells occur in environments with much
more » ... ironments with much stronger 0-8-km bulk wind shear than what is observed for short-lived supercells; this strong shear leads to significant storm-relative winds in the mid-to upper levels for the longest-lived supercells. Additionally, the bulk Richardson number falls into a relatively narrow range for the longest-lived supercells-ranging mostly from 5 to 45. The mesoscale to synoptic-scale environment can also predispose a supercell to be long or short lived, somewhat independent of the local environment. For example, long-lived supercells may occur when supercells travel within a broad warm sector or else in close proximity to mesoscale or larger-scale boundaries (e.g., along or near a warm front, an old outflow boundary, or a moisture/buoyancy axis), even if the deep-layer shear is suboptimal. By way of contrast, strong atmospheric forcing can result in linear convection (and thus shorter-lived supercells) in a strongly sheared environment that would otherwise favor discrete, long-lived supercells.
doi:10.1175/waf952.1 fatcat:bpkvxxw2irfjhlmnvmtswkuvwq