Observations and simulations of a wind farm modifying a thunderstorm outflow boundary

Tomaszewski, Jessica M.; Lundquist, Julie K.

On 18 June 2019, National Weather Service (NWS) radar reflectivity data indicated the presence of thunderstorm-generated outflow propagating east-southeastward near Lubbock, Texas. A section of the outflow boundary encountered a wind farm and then experienced a notable reduction in ground-relative velocity, suggesting that interactions with the wind farm impacted the outflow boundary progression. We use the Weather Research and Forecasting model and its wind farm parameterization to address the extent to which wind farms can modify the near-surface environment of thunderstorm outflow boundaries. We conduct two simulations of the June 2019 outflow event: one containing the wind farm and one without. We specifically investigate the outflow speed of the section of the boundary that encounters the wind farm and the associated impacts on near-surface wind speed, moisture, temperature, and changes to precipitation features as the storm and associated outflow pass over the wind farm domain. The NWS radar and nearby West Texas Mesonet surface stations provide observations for validation of the simulations. The presence of the wind farm in the simulation clearly slows the progress of the outflow boundary by over 20 km hinline-formula−1, similar to what was observed. Simulated perturbations of surface wind speed, temperature, and moisture associated with outflow passage were delayed by up to 6 min when the wind farm was present in the simulation compared to the simulation without the wind farm. However, impacts on precipitation were localized and transient, with no change to total accumulation across the domain.



Tomaszewski, Jessica M. / Lundquist, Julie K.: Observations and simulations of a wind farm modifying a thunderstorm outflow boundary. 2021. Copernicus Publications.


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