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Arizona State Univ.: "The influence of local circulation patterns on convective precipitation and thunderstorm development "

Final Report

The project objective was to determine whether or not local surface wind data could be used to assist forecasters in predicting the spatial distribution of summertime convective thunderstorm activity in and around the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area. The correlations between surface (10 m) and low elevation Doppler (0.5 degrees) wind data and precipitation were examined with respect to the presence of convergence/divergence and subsequent development/inhibition of thunderstorm cells.

The researchers concluded that the surface winds are de-coupled from the lower atmosphere during the times when thunderstorm development is occurring, and they respond to strong downbursts and outflows, which result from mature thunderstorms. No useful precursor relationships were identified. It is believed that this may be due to the large topographic variations across the valley floor, as well as the strong mountain-valley location of the Phoenix metropolitan area.