A warm-rain episode over southern West Africa is analyzed using unprecedented X-band radar observations from Savè, Benin and a Large-Eddy Simulation (LES) over a 240 × 240 km
domain. While warm rain contributes to 1% of the total rainfall in the LES, its spatial extent accounts for 24% of the area covered by rainfall. Almost all the warm-rain cells tracked in the observation and the LES have a size between 2 and 10 km and a lifetime varying from 5 to 60 min. During the nighttime, warm-rain cells are caused by the dissipation of large deep-convection systems while during the daytime they are formed by the boundary-layer thermals. The vertical extension of the warm-rain cells is limited by vertical wind shear at their top. In the simulation, their top is 1.6 km higher with respect to the radar observations due to the large-scale environment given by wrong initial conditions. This study shows the challenge of simulating warm rain in southern West Africa, a key phenomenon during the little dry season.
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