Convective storms are frequently initiated over mountains under weak synoptic forcing conditions. However, the initiation process of such convective storms is not well understood due to a lack of observations, especially of the transition process from non-precipitating cumuli to precipitating convective clouds. In order to investigate the initiation process, we conducted observations around the mountains in the Kanto region, Japan on 18 August 2011 using a 35 GHz (Ka-band) Doppler radar and a pair of digital cameras. The evolution of convective clouds was classified into three stages: convective clouds were visible but not detected by the Ka-band radar (stage 0), convective clouds were detectable by the Ka-band radar with reflectivity below 15 dBZ (stage 1), and convective clouds were accompanied by descending echoes corresponding to precipitation (stage 2). During the transition process from stage 1 to stage 2, weak radar echoes rose to the higher level and reflectivity rapidly increased. This phenomenon suggests that drizzle particles produced in a pre-existing convective cloud were lifted by a newly developed updraft, and raindrops were formed rapidly by coalescence of the drizzle particles and cloud droplets. This hypothetical process explains the precipitation echo formation in the lower layer frequently observed in the mountainous area in the Kanto region.
2017 by Meteorological Society of Japan