Synoptic-Scale Structure and the Character of Coastally Trapped Wind Reversals

Nuss, Wendell A.
January 2007
Monthly Weather Review;Jan2007, Vol. 135 Issue 1, p60
Academic Journal
Coastally trapped wind reversals that occur along the U.S. West Coast have been described in numerous other studies. The synoptic-scale environment and the forcing of a coastally trapped Kelvin wave are highly linked in the development of these wind reversals. However, not all wind reversals appear to behave like propagating Kelvin waves and the analysis of coastal buoy observations for three years indicates that different types of disturbances occur. Both propagating disturbances and nonpropagating disturbances occur with similar frequencies. While the synoptic-scale characteristics associated with propagating and nonpropagating wind reversals are sometimes rather subtle, several distinct differences occur that suggest a direct link between the coastal dynamics and the synoptic-scale forcing. Synoptic forcing characterized by persistent low-level offshore flow favors the development of propagating disturbances, while weak, nonsustained offshore flow characterizes nonpropagating disturbances. These differences support the idea that propagating events represent a favorable interaction between the synoptic-scale forcing and the excitation and propagation of Kelvin waves, whereas nonpropagating events either represent a less favorable interaction or are simply trapped ageostrophic flow due to the synoptic scale without a Kelvin wave response. These dynamic differences imply different stratus behavior, which is important to forecasters.


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