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HIGH-RESOLUTION Model-based Investigation of Moisture Transport Into The Pacific Northwest During A Strong Atmospheric River Event


A series of precipitation events impacted the Pacific Northwest during the first two weeks of November 2006. This sequence was punctuated by a particularly potent inland-penetrating atmospheric river (AR) which produced record-breaking precipitation across the region from 5-7 November. The precipitation caused destructive flooding as far inland as Montana's Glacier National Park, 800 km from the Pacific Ocean. This study investigates the inland penetration of moisture during the event using a 4km- 1.33km grid spacing configuration of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) modeling system. A high-resolution simulation allowed an analysis of interactions between the strong AR and terrain features such as the Cascade Mountains and the Columbia River Gorge (CR Gorge). Moisture transport in the vicinity of the Cascades is assessed using various metrics. The most efficient pathway for moisture penetration was through the gap (i.e. CR Gap) between Mt. Adams and Mt. Hood, which includes the CR Gorge. While the CR Gap is a path of least resistance through the Cascades, most of the total moisture transport that survived transit past the Cascades overtopped the mountain barrier itself. This is due to the disparity between the length of the ridge (~800km) and relatively narrow width of the CR Gap (~93km). Moisture transport reductions were larger across the Washington Cascades and the southern/central Oregon Cascades than through the CR Gap. During the simulation, drying ratios through the CR Gap (9.3%) were notably less than over adjacent terrain (19.6-30.6%). Drying ratios decreased as moisture transport intensity increased.

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January 01, 2018

This publication was presented at the following:

AMS 98th Annual meeting - 2018
American Meteorological Society
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