A strong mesoscale convective system affected northeastern Italy on August 8, 2008. Notable damage and two casualties resulted, mainly due to the strong wind gusts. The event is analysed using observations, including surface data from a meso-network of meteorological stations, radar reflectivity and velocity data from a C-band Doppler radar, polar satellite images, lightning measurements from a lightning detection network and the ambient thermodynamic conditions derived from local radiosoundings. The role of the cold front is investigated; in particular, the associated strong wind descending from the Alps, which interacted with the preexisting convection in the plain, is analysed to understand the way it affected the storm development. A simple density current model is applied to describe the flow characteristics and to identify the mechanisms that could support the development of such a high wind speed. Lastly, observed wind speeds are compared with the theoretical estimates from the proposed model. The results show that different factors contribute to the very strong wind gusts registered by surface stations. The main contributor to the windstorm is a density current (a) driven by the cold front, (b) maintained by the interaction between the cold air impinging on the Friuli Venezia Giulia plain from the north and the strong regional density gradient and (c) eventually enhanced by the storm cold pool. This study highlights the complex evolution of severe storms in a region on the lee side of the Alpine chain, and emphasizes the role of the orography in the enhancement of storm.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science