Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-286
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-286
09 Oct 2019
 | 09 Oct 2019
Status: this preprint was under review for the journal NHESS. A final paper is not foreseen.

Synoptic and Mesoscale atmospheric features associated with an extreme Snowstorm over the Central Andes in August 2013

Marcelo Zamuriano, Paul Froidevaux, Isabel Moreno, Mathias Vuille, and Stefan Brönnimann

Abstract. We study the synoptic and mesoscale characteristics of a snowfall event over the Bolivian Altiplano in August 2013 that caused severe damage to people, infrastructure and livestock. This event was associated with a cold front episode following the eastern slope of the Andes-Amazon interface and a cut-off low pressure system (COL) over the Pacific Ocean. Large scale analyses suggest a two-stage mechanism: The first phase consisted of a strong cold surge to the east of the Andes inducing low level blocking of southward moisture transport over the SW Amazon basin due to post-frontal high-pressure up to 500 hPa synchronized to a Rossby wave train. The second stage was initiated by the displacement of 500 hPa anticyclone over the Andes due to a Rossby wave passage and a subsequent increase in north-easterly moisture transport, while another cold front along the eastern Andes provided additional lifting. We analyse an analog event (July 2010) to confirm the influence of these large-scale features on snow formation.

We conduct a mesoscale analysis using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF-ARW) model. For this purpose, we perform a series of high-resolution numerical experiments that include sensitivity studies where we apply orographic and lake Titicaca temperature modifications. We compare our findings to MODIS snow cover estimates and in-situ measurements. The control simulation is able to capture the snow cover spatial distribution and sheds light over several aspects of the snowfall dynamics. In our WRF simulations, daytime snowfall mainly occurs around complex orography whereas nocturnal snowfall is concentrated over the plateau due to a combination of nocturnal winds and complex orography inside the plateau. The sensitivity experiments indicate the importance of the lake and mountain for thermal wind circulation affecting the spatial distribution of snowfall by shifting the position of the convergence zones. The influence of the lake's thermal effect is not evident around the regions surrounding the lake.

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Marcelo Zamuriano, Paul Froidevaux, Isabel Moreno, Mathias Vuille, and Stefan Brönnimann

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Interactive discussion

Status: closed
Status: closed
AC: Author comment | RC: Referee comment | SC: Short comment | EC: Editor comment
Printer-friendly Version - Printer-friendly version Supplement - Supplement
Marcelo Zamuriano, Paul Froidevaux, Isabel Moreno, Mathias Vuille, and Stefan Brönnimann
Marcelo Zamuriano, Paul Froidevaux, Isabel Moreno, Mathias Vuille, and Stefan Brönnimann

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