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Spring and Summer Severe Weather Reports over the Midwest as a Function of Convective Mode: A Preliminary Study

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  • 1 Department of Geological and Atmospheric Science, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
  • 2 School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • 3 Department of Atmospheric Science, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, Alabama
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Abstract

Radar data during the period 1 April–31 August 2002 were used to classify all convective storms occurring in a 10-state region of the central United States into nine predominant morphologies, and the severe weather reports associated with each morphology were then analyzed. The morphologies included three types of cellular convection (individual cells, clusters of cells, and broken squall lines), five types of linear systems (bow echoes, squall lines with trailing stratiform rain, lines with leading stratiform rain, lines with parallel stratiform rain, and lines with no stratiform rain), and nonlinear systems. Because linear systems with leading and line-parallel stratiform rainfall were relatively rare in the 2002 sample of 925 events, 24 additional cases of these morphologies from 1996 and 1997 identified by Parker and Johnson were included in the sample.

All morphologies were found to pose some risk of severe weather, but substantial differences existed between the number and types of severe weather reports and the different morphologies. Normalizing results per event, nonlinear systems produced the fewest reports of hail, and were relatively inactive for all types of severe weather compared to the other morphologies. Linear systems generated large numbers of reports from all categories of severe weather. Among linear systems, the hail and tornado threat was particularly enhanced in systems having leading and line-parallel stratiform rain. Bow echoes were found to produce far more severe wind reports than any other morphology. The flooding threat was largest in broken lines and linear systems having trailing and line-parallel stratiform rain. Cellular storms, despite much smaller areal coverage, also were abundant producers of severe hail and tornadoes, particularly in broken squall lines.

Corresponding author address: William A. Gallus Jr., Iowa State University, 3025 Agronomy, Ames, IA 50011. Email: wgallus@iastate.edu

Abstract

Radar data during the period 1 April–31 August 2002 were used to classify all convective storms occurring in a 10-state region of the central United States into nine predominant morphologies, and the severe weather reports associated with each morphology were then analyzed. The morphologies included three types of cellular convection (individual cells, clusters of cells, and broken squall lines), five types of linear systems (bow echoes, squall lines with trailing stratiform rain, lines with leading stratiform rain, lines with parallel stratiform rain, and lines with no stratiform rain), and nonlinear systems. Because linear systems with leading and line-parallel stratiform rainfall were relatively rare in the 2002 sample of 925 events, 24 additional cases of these morphologies from 1996 and 1997 identified by Parker and Johnson were included in the sample.

All morphologies were found to pose some risk of severe weather, but substantial differences existed between the number and types of severe weather reports and the different morphologies. Normalizing results per event, nonlinear systems produced the fewest reports of hail, and were relatively inactive for all types of severe weather compared to the other morphologies. Linear systems generated large numbers of reports from all categories of severe weather. Among linear systems, the hail and tornado threat was particularly enhanced in systems having leading and line-parallel stratiform rain. Bow echoes were found to produce far more severe wind reports than any other morphology. The flooding threat was largest in broken lines and linear systems having trailing and line-parallel stratiform rain. Cellular storms, despite much smaller areal coverage, also were abundant producers of severe hail and tornadoes, particularly in broken squall lines.

Corresponding author address: William A. Gallus Jr., Iowa State University, 3025 Agronomy, Ames, IA 50011. Email: wgallus@iastate.edu

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