Impacts of topography on airflow and precipitation in the Pyeongchang area seen from multiple-doppler radar observations

Chia Lun Tsai, Kwonil Kim, Yu Chieng Liou, Gyuwon Lee, Cheng Ku Yu

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18 Scopus citations


This study uses high-resolution radar and surface observations to investigate the finescale structural evolution of airflow and precipitation over complex terrain in the Pyeongchang area, South Korea. The Taebaek Mountain range (TMR) runs parallel to the northeastern coast of South Korea, with a perpendicular ridge known as the Pyeongchang branch (PCB). The objective of this study was to identify the mechanisms of wintertime precipitation over these topographic features during the passage of a low pressure system (LPS) through the southern Korean Peninsula. The analysis indicates that intense precipitation occurred over the southwestern and northeastern sides of the TMR during stage I but only over the northeastern side during stage II. The prevailing southwesterly winds were dominated by warm advection associated with the LPS over the PCB during stage I. These prevailing southwesterly winds locally enhanced precipitation on the southwestern end of the PCB; multiple influences of mountain waves, airflow convergence, and drifted particles are possible factors for causing precipitation on the northeastern side of the TMR. During stage II, the prevailing winds changed from easterlies to northeasterlies offshore from Gangneung. The easterly winds decelerated and were deflected locally along the mountainous coast, and this blocked zone interacted with the oncoming flow to trigger a precipitation band. Consequently, the northeasterly winds helped push the precipitation band toward the coast, causing heavy precipitation in Gangneung. The observational evidence presented shows that the interaction of temporally changing winds accompanying the movement of an LPS over topography is a critical factor for determining the distribution and intensity of precipitation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3401-3424
Number of pages24
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2018


  • Airflow
  • Blocking
  • Cloud microphysics
  • Precipitation
  • Radars/Radar observations
  • Topographic effects


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