Observational Study of the Thermodynamics and Morphological Characteristics of a Midlatitude Continental Cold Pool Event

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Convectively generated cold pools are important to the Earth system as they exert strong controls on deep convective-storm initiation, intensity, and life cycle. Despite their importance, efforts to introduce such cold pool controls into weather and climate models lack guidance and/or physical constraints from cold pool observations. This work presents a detailed, purely observational analysis of a cold pool event that took place on 23-24 May 2011 in north-central Oklahoma. The characteristics of the cold pool, and the spatiotemporal evolution of the hydrometeors and dynamics in the proximity of the cold pool, are studied with highresolution observations. The unprecedented dataset used in this work to study cold pool characteristics includes an enhanced network of surface weather stations, a high-temporal-frequency sounding array, and the NEXRAD and Atmospheric Radiation Measurement (ARM) Southern Great Plains radar networks. The potential use of NEXRAD surveillance scans to estimate height and propagation speed of the leading edge of the cold pool (LECP) is presented in this work. Manual identification and tracking of the LECP from NEXRAD imagery shows a spatial and temporal heterogeneity of the LECP properties. Surprisingly, over its detected life cycle, the LECP speed remains almost constant, even though the strength of the cold pool diminishes in time and its height varies. Radar analysis shows that pulses of graupel and hail within downdrafts in the convective system generating the cold pool appeared to be related to temporary increases in the LECP height.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)719-737
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2020


  • convective-scale processes
  • cold pools
  • mesoscale processes
  • automatic weather stations
  • radars/radar observations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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