Curtis Mooney


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An Assessment of Surface and Atmospheric Conditions Associated with the Extreme 2014 Wildfire Season in Canada’s Northwest Territories
Bohdan Kochtubajda, Ronald E. Stewart, Mike D. Flannigan, Barrie Bonsal, Charles Cuell, Curtis Mooney
Atmosphere-Ocean, Volume 57, Issue 1

Weather and climate are major factors influencing worldwide wildfire activity. This study assesses surface and atmospheric conditions associated with the 2014 extreme wildfires in the Northwest Ter...


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Characteristics, atmospheric drivers and occurrence patterns of freezing precipitation and ice pellets over the Prairie Provinces and Arctic Territories of Canada: 1964–2005
Bohdan Kochtubajda, Curtis Mooney, Ronald E. Stewart
Atmospheric Research, Volume 191

Abstract Freezing precipitation and ice pellet events on the Canadian Prairies and Arctic territories of Canada often lead to major disruptions to air and ground transportation, damage power grids and prevent arctic caribou and other animals from accessing the plants and lichen they depend on for survival. In a warming climate, these hazards and associated impacts will continue to happen, although their spatial and temporal characteristics may vary. In order to address these issues, the occurrence of freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and ice pellets from 1964 to 2005 is examined using hourly weather observations at 27 manned 24 h weather stations across the different climatic regions of the Prairie Provinces and Arctic Territories of Canada. Because of the enormous size of the area and its diverse climatic regions, many temporal and spatial differences in freezing precipitation and ice pellet characteristics occur. The 12 most widespread freezing rain events over the study area are associated with only two atmospheric patterns with one linked to strong warm advection between low and high pressure centres and the other pattern associated with chinooks occurring east of the Rocky Mountains. Given the annual patterns of freezing rain occurrence found in this study, it is proposed that a maximum of five regimes exist and three occur within the Prairies and Arctic.

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A Numerical Study of the June 2013 Flood-Producing Extreme Rainstorm over Southern Alberta
Yanping Li, Kit K. Szeto, Ronald E. Stewart, Julie M. Thériault, Liang Chen, Bohdan Kochtubajda, Anthony Liu, Sudesh Boodoo, Ron Goodson, Curtis Mooney, Sopan Kurkute
Journal of Hydrometeorology, Volume 18, Issue 8

Abstract A devastating, flood-producing rainstorm occurred over southern Alberta, Canada, from 19 to 22 June 2013. The long-lived, heavy rainfall event was a result of complex interplays between topographic, synoptic, and convective processes that rendered an accurate simulation of this event a challenging task. In this study, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model was used to simulate this event and was validated against several observation datasets. Both the timing and location of the model precipitation agree closely with the observations, indicating that the WRF Model is capable of reproducing this type of severe event. Sensitivity tests with different microphysics schemes were conducted and evaluated using equitable threat and bias frequency scores. The WRF double-moment 6-class microphysics scheme (WDM6) generally performed better when compared with other schemes. The application of a conventional convective/stratiform separation algorithm shows that convective activity was dominant during the early stages, then evolved into predominantly stratiform precipitation later in the event. The HYSPLIT back-trajectory analysis and regional water budget assessments using WRF simulation output suggest that the moisture for the precipitation was mainly from recycling antecedent soil moisture through evaporation and evapotranspiration over the Canadian Prairies and the U.S. Great Plains. This analysis also shows that a small fraction of the moisture can be traced back to the northeastern Pacific, and direct uptake from the Gulf of Mexico was not a significant source in this event.


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The June 2013 Alberta Catastrophic Flooding Event: Part 1-Climatological aspects and hydrometeorological features
Anling Liu, Curtis Mooney, Kit K. Szeto, Julie M. Thériault, Bohdan Kochtubajda, Ronald E. Stewart, Sudesh Boodoo, Ron Goodson, Yanping Li, John W. Pomeroy
Hydrological Processes, Volume 30, Issue 26

In June 2013, excessive rainfall associated with an intense weather system triggered severe flooding in southern Alberta, which became the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history. This article provides an overview of the climatological aspects and large-scale hydrometeorological features associated with the flooding event based upon information from a variety of sources, including satellite data, upper air soundings, surface observations and operational model analyses. The results show that multiple factors combined to create this unusually severe event. The event was characterized by a slow-moving upper level low pressure system west of Alberta, blocked by an upper level ridge, while an associated well-organized surface low pressure system kept southern Alberta, especially the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, in continuous precipitation for up to two days. Results from air parcel trajectory analysis show that a significant amount of the moisture originated from the central Great Plains, transported into Alberta by a southeasterly low level jet. The event was first dominated by significant thunderstorm activity, and then evolved into continuous precipitation supported by the synoptic-scale low pressure system. Both the thunderstorm activity and upslope winds associated with the low pressure system produced large rainfall amounts. A comparison with previous similar events occurring in the same region suggests that the synoptic-scale features associated with the 2013 rainfall event were not particularly intense; however, its storm environment was the most convectively unstable. The system also exhibited a relatively high freezing level, which resulted in rain, rather than snow, mainly falling over the still snow-covered mountainous areas. Melting associated with this rain-on-snow scenario likely contributed to downstream flooding. Furthermore, above-normal snowfall in the preceding spring helped to maintain snow in the high-elevation areas, which facilitated the rain-on-snow event.