Temporal and Spatial Variations in Hail in the Upper Great Plains and Midwest

Stanley A. Changnon Jr. Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, IL 61820

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Abstract

The distribution of hail days during 1961–80 in the northern Great Plains-Midwest was evaluated on a temporal and spatial basis to help interpret crop-hail losses. Comparisons with earlier (1901–60) hail day data revealed the seven-state study area contained eight permanent areas of high and low incidences found in any 5-year or longer period. The high hail incidence areas were related either to major topographic features or to areas of frequent frontal occurrences. Certain other areas of high or low hail incidence appeared at random locales, lasted 5 to 20 years, and disappeared. The annual and July incidences of hail increased sporadically but steadily from 1901 to 1980 in the Dakotas, Nebraska and Minnesota, reaching a peak during 1961–80. This has led to relatively more crop damage in recent years. In Montana, eastern Iowa, and Illinois, hail has decreased to a low in 1961–80. During the 1961–80 period, hail maximized in 1961–65, being 30% more frequent than in any subsequent 5-year period.

Abstract

The distribution of hail days during 1961–80 in the northern Great Plains-Midwest was evaluated on a temporal and spatial basis to help interpret crop-hail losses. Comparisons with earlier (1901–60) hail day data revealed the seven-state study area contained eight permanent areas of high and low incidences found in any 5-year or longer period. The high hail incidence areas were related either to major topographic features or to areas of frequent frontal occurrences. Certain other areas of high or low hail incidence appeared at random locales, lasted 5 to 20 years, and disappeared. The annual and July incidences of hail increased sporadically but steadily from 1901 to 1980 in the Dakotas, Nebraska and Minnesota, reaching a peak during 1961–80. This has led to relatively more crop damage in recent years. In Montana, eastern Iowa, and Illinois, hail has decreased to a low in 1961–80. During the 1961–80 period, hail maximized in 1961–65, being 30% more frequent than in any subsequent 5-year period.

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