A case study of the 24 August 1986, FLOWS microburst
November 28, 1989
From 1984 to 1986, Lincoln Laboratory under the sponsorship of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) collected wind shear measurements in the southeastern United States using a pulsed Doppler radar. The major emphasis of the measurement program and subsequent analyses is the development and testing of algorithms that will enable the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) to provide wind shear warnings to the aviation community by detection and tracking gust fronts and microbursts. An important phase of the program involves determining appropriate scan strategies and algorithms to detect other radar measurable features which precede or accompany the surface outflows of microbursts. The detection of features aloft such as convergence, rotation, divergence, storm cells, and descending reflectivity cores may permit advanced recognition of the wind shear while it is less than 10 m/s. In this report a microburst on 24 August 1986 in Huntsville is analyzed with single and dual-Doppler techniques to assess microburst precursors, asymmetry, and forcing mechanisms which could be used for futute algorithm development. The microburst producing storm formed within a moist adiabatic, unstable air-mass with weak wind shear at low to mid-levels of the atmosphere. Rotation, convergence, divergent tops, and a descending core were detected prior to the outflow attaining a divergence of 10 m/s. This storm is similar to other Huntsville microburst producing cells in exhibiting upper-level divergence prior to the initial microburst outflow. Previous analyses of wind shear in Denver and Oklahoma did not discuss divergent tops as a possible microburst precursor. However, its relation to storm severity and hailstorm intensity has been reported by Witt and Nelson (1984) and NEXRAD Program Office (1985). In this case-study, the 3-dimensional microburst detection algorithm provided an early declaration of the event while the radial velocity differential was less than 10 m/s.