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Observations of Wintertime U.S. West Coast Precipitating Systems with W-Band...

Matrosov, S. (2012), Observations of Wintertime U.S. West Coast Precipitating Systems with W-Band Satellite Radar and Other Spaceborne Instruments, J. Hydrometeorology, 13, 223-238, doi:10.1175/JHM-D-10-05025.1.

The potential of CloudSat W-band radar for observing wintertime storms affecting the West Coast of North America is evaluated. Storms having high hydrological impact often result from landfalls of ‘‘atmospheric rivers’’ (‘‘ARs’’), which are the narrow elongated regions of water vapor transport from the tropics. CloudSat measurements are used for retrievals of rain rate R and cloud ice water path (IWP) along the satellite ground track over ocean and land. These retrievals present quasi-instantaneous vertical cross sections of precipitating systems with high-resolution information about hydrometeors. This information is valuable in coastal areas with complex terrain where observations with existing instrumentation, including ground-based radars, are limited. CloudSat reflectivity enhancements [i.e., bright band (BB)] present a way to estimate freezing levels, indicating transitions between rainfall and snowfall. CloudSat estimates of these levels were validated using data from radiosonde soundings and compared to model and microwave sounder data. Comparisons of CloudSat retrievals of rain rates with estimates from ground-based radars in the areas where measurements from these radars were available indicated an agreement within retrieval uncertainties, which were around 50%. The utility of CloudSat was illustrated for case studies of pronounced AR events at landfall and over ocean. Initial analysis of CloudSat crossings of ARs during the 2006/07 season were used for rainfall regime prevalence assessment. It indicated that stratiform rain, which often had BB features, warm rain, and mixed rain were observed with about 26%, 24%, and 50% frequency. Stratiform regions generally had higher rain rates. Significant correlation (;0.72) between mean values of IWP and rain rate was observed for stratiform rainfall.

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Atmospheric Dynamics and Precipitation Program (ADP)