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  • RELAMPAGO-CACTI: High Impact Weather in Subtropical South America x
  • Journal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology x
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Calvin M. Elkins
Deanna A. Hence


Frequent deep convective thunderstorms and mesoscale convective systems make the Córdoba region, near the Sierras de Córdoba mountain range, one of the most active areas on Earth for hail activity. Analysis of hail observations from trained observers and social media reports cross-referenced with operational radar observations identified the convective characteristics of hail-producing convective systems in central Argentina over a 6-month period divided into early (October–December 2018) and late seasons (January–March 2019). Reflectivity and dual-polarization characteristics from the Córdoba operational radar [Radar Meteorológico Argentina (RMA1)] were used to identify the convective modes of convective cells at time of positive hail indicators. Analysis of ERA5 upper-air and surface data examined convective environments of hail events and identified representative dynamic and thermodynamic environments. A majority of early season hail-producing cells were classified as discrete convection, while discrete and multicell occurrence evened out in the late season. Most hail-producing cells initiated directly adjacent to the Sierras in the late season, while cell initiation and hail production is further spread out in the early season. Dividing convective events into dynamic/thermodynamic regimes based on values of 1000 J kg−1 of CAPE and vertical wind shear of 20 m s−1 results in most early season events reflecting shear-dominant characteristics (low CAPE, high shear) and most late-season events exhibiting CAPE-dominant characteristics (high CAPE, low shear). Strength and placement of low-level temperature and moisture anomalies/advection and upper-level jets largely defined the differences in the dominant regimes.

Significance Statement

This study used regional radar data alongside hail reports from trained observers and social media to better understand the types and timing of storms identified as producing hail, given the lower resolution of satellite studies. Dividing the hail season (October–December; January–March) showed that within hail season, early season storms tended to be singular storms that formed across the region in environments with strong vertical winds and weak instability. Late-season storms were a mix of singular storms and multicellular storm systems focused on the mountains in weak vertical winds and strong instability. These results show differences from satellite studies and identify key representative hail-producing radar features and environmental regimes for this region, which could guide hail risk analysis within the severe-weather season.

Open access