The origin of two separate Southern High Plains dust storms, which occurred over a 2 day period in February 2007, is traced to an interaction between the subtropical jet (STJ) and the polar jet (PJ). A large-scale thermal wind imbalance resulting from the confluence of these two jets led to a series of mesoscale circulations that ultimately produced the dust storms. Understanding the connectivity between the dust storms with differing geometries is central to the present investigation. The study rests on the interpretation of analyses from upper air and surface observations complemented by imagery from satellites, the 32 km gridded data set from the North American Regional Reanalysis, and a fine-resolution (6 km grid) simulation from the Weather Research and Forecasting model. Principal assertions from the present study are (1) scale interaction is fundamental to the creation of an environment conducive to dust storm development, (2) low to middle tropospheric mass adjustment is the primary response to a large-scale imbalance, (3) the mesoscale mass adjustment is associated with circulations about a highly accelerative jet streak resulting from the merger of the PJ and STJ, (4) the structure of the jet streak resulting from this merger governs the evolution of the geometry of the dust plumes, with plumes that initially had a straight-line orientation developing a semicircular geometry, and (5) it is concluded that improvements in dust storm prediction will depend on an augmentation to the upper air network in concert with a flow-dependent data assimilation strategy.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/stephen_underwood/34/