Atmospheric and Climate Sciences

Volume 7, Issue 2 (April 2017)

ISSN Print: 2160-0414   ISSN Online: 2160-0422

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Conditions Supporting Funnel Cloud Development in Alaska

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DOI: 10.4236/acs.2017.72016    1,029 Downloads   1,549 Views   Citations


The characteristics and climatology of funnel clouds in Alaska were examined using operational radiosondes, surface meteorological observations, and reanalysis data. Funnel clouds occurred under weak synoptic forcing between May and September between 11 am and 6 pm Alaska Daylight Time with a maximum occurrence in July. They occurred under Convective Available Potential Energy >500 J·kg-1 and strong low-level wind shear. Characteristic atmospheric profiles during funnel cloud events served to develop a retrieval algorithm based on similarity testing. Out of more than 129,000 soundings between 1971 and 2014, 2724, 442, and 744 profiles were similar to the profiles of observed funnel cloud events in the Interior, Alaska West Coast, and Anchorage regions. While the number of reported funnel clouds has increased since 2000, the frequency of synoptic situations favorable for such events has decreased.

Cite this paper

Edwin, S. , Mölders, N. , Friedrich, K. , Schmidt, S. and Thoman, R. (2017) Conditions Supporting Funnel Cloud Development in Alaska. Atmospheric and Climate Sciences, 7, 223-245. doi: 10.4236/acs.2017.72016.

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