Radar Observations of the Diurnally Forced Offshore Convective Lines along the Southeastern Coast of Taiwan

Cheng-Ku Yu; Ben Jong-Dao Jou
June 2005
Monthly Weather Review;Jun2005, Vol. 133 Issue 6, p1613
Academic Journal
This study documents offshore convective lines along the southeastern coast of Taiwan, a frequent but poorly understood mesoscale phenomenon that influences coastal weather during the Taiwan mei-yu season. Doppler radar and surface observations were gathered from a specially chosen period (11–15 May 1998) when the offshore convective lines were active off the southeastern coast of Taiwan. These observations were used to show the basic character, structure, and possible formative processes of offshore convective lines. The synoptic environment accompanying these events was found to be relatively undisturbed and featured uniformly prevailing southerly/south-southeasterly winds in the boundary layer with southwesterlies/westerlies aloft. Examination of radar data during the study period indicates that the lines generally occurred ∼10–30 km offshore and were characterized by an elongated narrow zone (∼5–10 km wide) of heavy precipitation. The lines were oriented roughly parallel to the coastline and generally did not move significantly. The intensity of the radar reflectivity associated with the lines exhibited a marked diurnal variation and was closely related to the coastal offshore flow developing at night. Detailed analyses of an event on 14–15 May 1998 further show the important physical link between the offshore flow and the development of the line. The offshore line was found to be located near and immediately ahead of the seaward extent of the offshore flow. Particularly, a very narrow zone (∼2 km) of low-level heavy precipitation (40–45 dBZ) coincided with regions of strong updrafts and convergence, where the prevailing southerly onshore flow encountered the cool offshore flow nearshore. This offshore flow–induced convergence, given a stable thermodynamic condition in the lowest ∼1 km in the inflow region, was a crucial low-level forcing that provided lifting to trigger moist deep convection in this case. The line’s precipitation tilt eastward was confined primarily to the warmer inflow side rather than feeding the offshore flow to the west of the line. No consistent upshear tilt of updrafts throughout the storm layer was observed, which is consistent with the presence of a strong westerly shear in the line’s environment. Both of these observations explain a relatively strong (weak) modification of low-level onshore (offshore) flow by precipitation. Additionally, a combination of surface and Doppler radar observations indicates that the leading edge of the offshore flow moved seaward very slowly at 0.7 m s-1 and possessed a frontal character with notable discontinuities in near-surface wind and temperature (instead of pressure and dewpoint temperature).


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