High Resolution Modeling of the Orographically Forced Vertical Motion on the Island of Oahu

Friday, 19 December 2014
Thomas E Robinson Jr, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Meteorology, Honolulu, HI, United States and Steven Businger, University of Hawaii at Manoa, Honolulu, HI, United States
The weather on Oahu is dictated in large part by the orographic forcing by the Ko’olau Mountain range. Using a high-resolution vertical motion diagnostic model with 0.0005° grid spacing, vertical wind speeds are calculated over the island. The model initialization is done with uniform 10 m s-1 winds, with the wind direction gradually varied. The results show that increased vertical motion occurs for winds from 145° in the valleys along the south shore of Oahu and the Waianae Mountains. For northeast trade winds, the Ko’oalu Range ridgeline produces a maximum vertical motion enhancement. As the winds become more northerly, easterly, or southerly, the geometry of the orography increases in importance and preferential locations of upward motion are observed. Comparing the winds from 145° and 25°, the concave headwall structures of the Ko’olaus are shown to play a critical role in the vertical motion. The southerly wind causes enhanced vertical motion along the southern facing arms of the headwalls, and the northerly winds have an identical effect on the northern facing arms. These results are not limited to when the wind is perpendicular to the ridgeline. By forcing the model with sounding winds taken during the Hawaiian Educational Radar Opportunity, the results are consistent with rain showers occurring over the mountains down shear from locations of strongest updrafts.