Urban Effects on Severe Local Storms at St. Louis

Stanley A. Changnon Jr. Illinois State Water Survey, Urbana 61801

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Abstract

As part of METROMEX, a five-year study of how St. Louis affects summer weather, studies were made of possible urban effects on severe local storm phenomena. Localized (within 40 km of the city) increases were found in various thunderstorm characteristics (about +10 to +115%), in hailstorm conditions (+3 to +330%), in various heavy rainfall characteristics (+35 to +100%) and strong gusts (+90 to +100%). No indication of effects on tornado activity was found. The more substantial percentage increases were found in the expressions of storm intensity (very frequent thunder, hailfall impact energy and high rainfall rates). Urban-related increases in severe local storm conditions appeared at midday, were greatest in the evening and ended by midnight. Urban-induced increases occurred with all synoptic weather types but were most frequent and intense with squall lines and cold fronts. Results suggest that urban-induced factors alter the microphysical and dynamic properties of clouds and storms.

Abstract

As part of METROMEX, a five-year study of how St. Louis affects summer weather, studies were made of possible urban effects on severe local storm phenomena. Localized (within 40 km of the city) increases were found in various thunderstorm characteristics (about +10 to +115%), in hailstorm conditions (+3 to +330%), in various heavy rainfall characteristics (+35 to +100%) and strong gusts (+90 to +100%). No indication of effects on tornado activity was found. The more substantial percentage increases were found in the expressions of storm intensity (very frequent thunder, hailfall impact energy and high rainfall rates). Urban-related increases in severe local storm conditions appeared at midday, were greatest in the evening and ended by midnight. Urban-induced increases occurred with all synoptic weather types but were most frequent and intense with squall lines and cold fronts. Results suggest that urban-induced factors alter the microphysical and dynamic properties of clouds and storms.

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