, Volume 36, Issue 1-2, pp 247-259,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 27 Oct 2009

The boreal spring variability of the Intra-Americas low-level jet and its relation with precipitation and tornadoes in the eastern United States

Abstract

The Intra-Americas Sea (IAS) low-level jet has been studied mainly for the summer and winter seasons. In contrast, spring conditions have been studied less. Here we analyze the boreal spring variability of the IAS low-level jet (IA-LLJ) and its relation with precipitation and tornadic activity in the region of the lower Mississippi, Tennessee and Ohio River basins (MORB). The main mode of variability of the spring IA-LLJ is obtained from a combined principal component analysis of zonal and meridional winds at 925-hPa. The first empirical orthogonal function of the IA-LLJ is a strengthening of the climatological flow with stronger easterlies in the Caribbean and stronger southeasterlies in the Gulf of Mexico. This first mode of variability of the IA-LLJ is related mainly to the Pacific North American (PNA) teleconnection pattern as the PNA modulates the pressure in the southeast region of the U.S. Consequently, there is an increase in precipitation over the MORB region as the moisture fluxes associated with the IA-LLJ increase. Tornadic activity in nine states spanning the MORB region is also significantly related to the IA-LLJ and the PNA index for March, in addition to the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO) and the Niño indexes. Among the environmental factors that influence tornadic activity are southwesterly wind shear, dry transients at the mid-troposphere, moist transients at low levels, and an increase in convective available potential energy (CAPE). The decadal shifts in MORB precipitation and tornado activity appear to be related to the decadal shift of the IA-LLJ.