Severe Convective Windstorms in Europe: Climatology, Preconvective Environments, and Convective Mode

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  • 1 Centre for Atmospheric Science, Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 2 Centre for Crisis Studies and Mitigation, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
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Abstract

The frequency of European convective windstorms, environments in which they form, and their convective organizational modes remain largely unknown. A climatology is produced using 10 233 severe convective-wind reports from the European Severe Weather Database between 2009–2018. Severe convective-wind days have increased from 50 days yr–1 in 2009 to 117 days yr–1 in 2018, largely because of an increase in reporting. The highest frequency of reports occurred across central Europe, particularly Poland. Reporting was most frequent in summer, when a severe convective windstorm occurred every other day on average. The preconvective environment was assessed using 361 proximity soundings from 45 stations between 2006–2018, and a clustering technique was used to distinguish different environments from nine variables. Two environments for severe convective storms occurred: Type 1, generally low-shear–high-CAPE (mostly in the warm season) and Type 2, generally high-shear–low-CAPE (convective available potential energy; mostly in the cold season). Because convective mode often relates to the type of weather hazard, convective organizational mode was studied from 185 windstorms that occurred between 2013–2018. In Type-1 environments, the most frequent convective mode was cells, accounting for 58.5% of events, followed by linear modes (29%) and the nonlinear noncellular mode (12.5%). In Type-2 environments, the most frequent convective mode was linear modes (55%), followed by cells (36%) and the nonlinear noncellular mode (9%). Only 10% of windstorms were associated with bow echoes, a much lower percentage than other studies, suggesting that forecasters should not necessarily wait to see a bow echo before issuing a warning for strong winds.

Current affiliation: Institut für Meteorologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Corresponding author: Prof. David M. Schultz, david.schultz@manchester.ac.uk.

Abstract

The frequency of European convective windstorms, environments in which they form, and their convective organizational modes remain largely unknown. A climatology is produced using 10 233 severe convective-wind reports from the European Severe Weather Database between 2009–2018. Severe convective-wind days have increased from 50 days yr–1 in 2009 to 117 days yr–1 in 2018, largely because of an increase in reporting. The highest frequency of reports occurred across central Europe, particularly Poland. Reporting was most frequent in summer, when a severe convective windstorm occurred every other day on average. The preconvective environment was assessed using 361 proximity soundings from 45 stations between 2006–2018, and a clustering technique was used to distinguish different environments from nine variables. Two environments for severe convective storms occurred: Type 1, generally low-shear–high-CAPE (mostly in the warm season) and Type 2, generally high-shear–low-CAPE (convective available potential energy; mostly in the cold season). Because convective mode often relates to the type of weather hazard, convective organizational mode was studied from 185 windstorms that occurred between 2013–2018. In Type-1 environments, the most frequent convective mode was cells, accounting for 58.5% of events, followed by linear modes (29%) and the nonlinear noncellular mode (12.5%). In Type-2 environments, the most frequent convective mode was linear modes (55%), followed by cells (36%) and the nonlinear noncellular mode (9%). Only 10% of windstorms were associated with bow echoes, a much lower percentage than other studies, suggesting that forecasters should not necessarily wait to see a bow echo before issuing a warning for strong winds.

Current affiliation: Institut für Meteorologie, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany.

Corresponding author: Prof. David M. Schultz, david.schultz@manchester.ac.uk.
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