Cool-season extreme weather events (EWEs) (i.e., high-impact weather events that are societally disruptive, geographically widespread, exceptionally prolonged, and climatologically infrequent) are typically associated with strong extratropical cyclones (ECs). The opportunity to investigate the genesis locations, tracks, and frequencies of ECs leading to EWEs over central and eastern North America and compare them to those of ordinary ECs forming over and traversing the same region motivates this study. ECs leading to EWEs are separated from ordinary ECs according to the magnitude, areal extent, and duration of their 925-hPa standardized wind speed anomalies in the 0.5° NCEP CFSR dataset. This separation allows for the construction of an October–March 1979–2016 climatology of ECs leading to EWEs over central and eastern North America. The climatology of ECs leading to EWEs over central and eastern North America reveals that these ECs typically form in the lee of the Rocky Mountains, over the south-central United States, and along the east coast of North America at latitudes equatorward of the typical genesis locations of ordinary ECs. ECs leading to EWEs exhibit equatorward-shifted tracks relative to ordinary ECs, likely associated with an equatorward shift in the position of the subtropical or polar-front jet. ECs leading to EWEs form most frequently in November and March, when the seasonal alignment of baroclinic and diabatic forcings is maximized. Similar to ordinary ECs, the genesis locations, tracks, and frequencies of ECs leading to EWEs are partially determined by the states of the Pacific–North American pattern and North Atlantic Oscillation.
© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).