Trajectory-Enhanced AIRS Observations of Environmental Factors Driving Severe Convective Storms
We investigate environmental factors of severe convective weather using temperature and moisture retrievals from the Atmospheric Infrared Sounder (AIRS) that lie along parcel trajectories traced from tornado, large hail, and severe wind producing events in the central United States. We create AIRS proximity soundings representative of the storm environment by calculating back trajectories from storm times and locations at levels throughout the troposphere, using the Hybrid Single Particle Lagrangian Integrated Trajectory (HYSPLIT) model forced with the 32-km North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR) and 12-km North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM12). The proximity soundings are calculated for severe weather events including tornadoes, hail >= 2 in. diameter, and wind gusts >65 mph (29 m s(-1)) specified in the NCEI Storm Events database. Box-and-whisker diagrams exhibit more realistic values of enhanced convective available potential energy (CAPE) and suppressed convective inhibition (CIN) relative to conventional "nearest neighbor" (NN) soundings; however, differences in lifting condensation level (LCL), level of free convection (LFC), and significant tornado parameter (STP) from the HYSPLIT-adjusted back traced soundings are more similar to NN soundings. This methodology should be extended to larger swaths of soundings, and to other operational infrared sounders, to characterize the large-scale environment in severe convective events.