Meteorological Processes Affecting the Evolution of a Wintertime Cold Air Pool in the Columbia Basin
Monthly Weather Review
Meteorological mechanisms affecting the evolution of a persistent wintertime cold air pool that began on 2 January and ended on 7 January 1999 in the Columbia basin of eastern Washington were investigated using a mesoscale numerical model together with limited observations. The mechanisms include surface radiative cooling and heating, large-scale subsidence, temperature advection, downslope warming in the lee of a major mountain barrier, and low-level cloudiness. The cold pool began when cold
... r accumulated over the basin floor on a clear night and was maintained by a strong capping inversion resulting from a rapid increase of air temperatures above the cold pool. This increase of temperatures aloft was produced primarily by downslope warming associated with strong westerly winds descending the lee slopes of the north-south-oriented Cascade Mountains that form the western boundary of the Columbia basin. While the inversion cap at the top of the cold pool descended with time as the westerly flow intensified, the air temperature inside the cold pool exhibited little variation because of the fog and stratus accompanying the cold pool. Although the low-level clouds reduced the diurnal temperature oscillations inside the pool, their existence was not critical to maintaining the cold pool because surface radiative heating on a midwinter day was insufficient to completely destroy the temperature deficit in the persistent inversion. The presence of low-level clouds becomes much more critical for the maintenance of persistent cold pools in the spring and, perhaps, the fall seasons when insolation is much stronger than in midwinter. The cold pool was destroyed by cold air advection aloft, which weakened and eventually removed the strong inversion cap, and by an unstable boundary layer that grew upward from the heated ground after the dissipation of low-level clouds. Finally, erosion of the cold pool from above by turbulent mixing produced by vertical wind shear at the interface between quiescent air within the pool and stronger winds aloft was found to be insignificant for this case.