A 7-Year Climatology of Warm-Sector Heavy Rainfall over South China during the Pre-Summer Months
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In view of the limited predictability of heavy rainfall (HR) events and the limited understanding of the physical mechanisms governing the initiation and organization of the associated mesoscale convective systems (MCSs), a composite analysis of 58 HR events over the warm sector (i.e., far ahead of the surface cold front), referred to as WSHR events, over South China during the months of April to June 2008~2014 is performed in terms of precipitation, large-scale circulations, pre-storm environmental conditions, and MCS types. Results show that the large-scale circulations of the WSHR events can be categorized into pre-frontal, southwesterly warm and moist ascending airflow, and low-level vortex types, with higher frequency occurrences of the former two types. Their pre-storm environments are characterized by a deep moist layer with >50 mm column-integrated precipitable water, high convective available potential energy with the equivalent potential temperature of ≥340 K at 850 hPa, weak vertical wind shear below 400 hPa, and a low-level jet near 925 hPa with weak warm advection, based on atmospheric parameter composite. Three classes of the corresponding MCSs, exhibiting peak convective activity in the afternoon and the early morning hours, can be identified as linear-shaped, a leading convective line adjoined with trailing stratiform rainfall, and comma-shaped, respectively. It is found that many linear-shaped MCSs in coastal regions are triggered by local topography, enhanced by sea breezes, whereas the latter two classes of MCSs experience isentropic lifting in the southwesterly warm and moist flows. They all develop in large-scale environments with favorable quasi-geostrophic forcing, albeit weak. Conceptual models are finally developed to facilitate our understanding and prediction of the WSHR events over South China.