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Earth System Dynamics An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-3
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/esd-2019-3
© Author(s) 2019. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 18 Feb 2019

Research article | 18 Feb 2019

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Earth System Dynamics (ESD).

Downslope windstorm study in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec using WRF high-resolution simulations

Miguel A. Prósper1, Ian Sosa Tinoco2, Carlos Otero-Casal1,3, and Gonzalo Miguez-Macho1 Miguel A. Prósper et al.
  • 1Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  • 2Technical Institute of Sonora, Sonora, Mexico
  • 3MeteoGalicia, Xunta de Galicia, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Abstract. Tehuantepecers or Tehuanos are extreme winds produced in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, blowing south through the Chivela pass, the mountain gap across the isthmus, from the Gulf of Mexico into the Pacific Ocean. They are the result of the complex interaction between large-scale meteorological conditions and local orographic forcings around Chivela pass and occur mainly in winter months, due to cold air damming in the wake of cold fronts that reach as far south. They can generate localized extreme events, such as downslope windstorms and hydraulic jumps, strong turbulent flows that have a direct effect on the Pacific side of the isthmus and the Gulf of Tehuantepec.

This study focuses on investigating these phenomena using high horizontal and vertical resolution WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting) model simulations. In particular, we employ a four nested grid configuration, with up to 444 m horizontal spacing in the innermost domain and 70 hybrid-sigma vertical levels, 8 of which lie within the first 200 m above ground. We select one 36 hour period in December 2013, when favorable conditions for a strong gap wind situation were observed. The high-resolution WRF experiment reveals a significant fine-scale structure in the strong Tehuano wind flow, beyond the well known gap jet. Depending on the Froude number upstream the topographic barrier, different downslope windstorm conditions and hydraulic jumps with rotor circulations develop simultaneously at different locations east of Chivela pass with varied crest height. A comparison with observations suggests that the model accurately represents the spatially heterogeneous intense downslope windstorm and the formation of mountain wave clouds for several hours, with low errors in wind speed, wind direction, and temperature.

Miguel A. Prósper et al.
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Miguel A. Prósper et al.
Miguel A. Prósper et al.
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Short summary
We study the fine-scale structure of Tehuano winds in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, focusing on the flow beyond the well-known strong gap wind jet. We use high-resolution WRF model simulations to show that different downslope windstorm conditions and hydraulic jumps with rotor circulations develop in the mountains east of Chivela pass depending on crest height and thermodynamic conditions of the air mass. The intense turbulent flows can have a large impact on the existent wind farms in the region.
We study the fine-scale structure of Tehuano winds in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, focusing on...
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