Zen Mariani


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Storms and Precipitation Across the continental Divide Experiment (SPADE)
Julie M. Thériault, Nicolas Leroux, Ronald E. Stewart, André Bertoncini, Stephen J. Déry, John W. Pomeroy, Hadleigh D. Thompson, Hilary M. Smith, Zen Mariani, Aurélie Desroches-Lapointe, S. G. Mitchell, Juris Almonte
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, Volume 103, Issue 11

Abstract The Canadian Rockies are a triple-continental divide, whose high mountains are drained by major snow-fed and rain-fed rivers flowing to the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans. The objective of the April–June 2019 Storms and Precipitation Across the continental Divide Experiment (SPADE) was to determine the atmospheric processes producing precipitation on the eastern and western sides of the Canadian Rockies during springtime, a period when upslope events of variable phase dominate precipitation on the eastern slopes. To do so, three observing sites across the divide were instrumented with advanced meteorological sensors. During the 13 observed events, the western side recorded only 25% of the eastern side’s precipitation accumulation, rainfall occurred rather than snowfall, and skies were mainly clear. Moisture sources and amounts varied markedly between events. An atmospheric river landfall in California led to moisture flowing persistently northward and producing the longest duration of precipitation on both sides of the divide. Moisture from the continental interior always produced precipitation on the eastern side but only in specific conditions on the western side. Mainly slow-falling ice crystals, sometimes rimed, formed at higher elevations on the eastern side (>3 km MSL), were lifted, and subsequently drifted westward over the divide during nonconvective storms to produce rain at the surface on the western side. Overall, precipitation generally crossed the divide in the Canadian Rockies during specific spring-storm atmospheric conditions although amounts at the surface varied with elevation, condensate type, and local and large-scale flow fields.


DOI bib
Meteorological observations collected during the Storms and Precipitation Across the continental Divide Experiment (SPADE), April–June 2019
Julie M. Thériault, Stephen J. Déry, John W. Pomeroy, Hilary M. Smith, Juris Almonte, André Bertoncini, Robert W. Crawford, Aurélie Desroches-Lapointe, Mathieu Lachapelle, Zen Mariani, S. G. Mitchell, Jeremy Morris, Charlie Hébert-Pinard, Peter Rodriguez, Hadleigh D. Thompson
Earth System Science Data, Volume 13, Issue 3

Abstract. The continental divide along the spine of the Canadian Rockies in southwestern Canada is a critical headwater region for hydrological drainages to the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic oceans. Major flooding events are typically attributed to heavy precipitation on its eastern side due to upslope (easterly) flows. Precipitation can also occur on the western side of the divide when moisture originating from the Pacific Ocean encounters the west-facing slopes of the Canadian Rockies. Often, storms propagating across the divide result in significant precipitation on both sides. Meteorological data over this critical region are sparse, with few stations located at high elevations. Given the importance of all these types of events, the Storms and Precipitation Across the continental Divide Experiment (SPADE) was initiated to enhance our knowledge of the atmospheric processes leading to storms and precipitation on either side of the continental divide. This was accomplished by installing specialized meteorological instrumentation on both sides of the continental divide and carrying out manual observations during an intensive field campaign from 24 April–26 June 2019. On the eastern side, there were two field sites: (i) at Fortress Mountain Powerline (2076 m a.s.l.) and (ii) at Fortress Junction Service, located in a high-elevation valley (1580 m a.s.l.). On the western side, Nipika Mountain Resort, also located in a valley (1087 m a.s.l.), was chosen as a field site. Various meteorological instruments were deployed including two Doppler light detection and ranging instruments (lidars), three vertically pointing micro rain radars, and three optical disdrometers. The three main sites were nearly identically instrumented, and observers were on site at Fortress Mountain Powerline and Nipika Mountain Resort during precipitation events to take manual observations of precipitation type and microphotographs of solid particles. The objective of the field campaign was to gather high-temporal-frequency meteorological data and to compare the different conditions on either side of the divide to study the precipitation processes that can lead to catastrophic flooding in the region. Details on field sites, instrumentation used, and collection methods are discussed. Data from the study are publicly accessible from the Federated Research Data Repository at https://doi.org/10.20383/101.0221 (Thériault et al., 2020). This dataset will be used to study atmospheric conditions associated with precipitation events documented simultaneously on either side of a continental divide. This paper also provides a sample of the data gathered during a precipitation event.