Observations of Damaging Hailstorms from Geosynchronous Satellite Digital Data

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  • 1 Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins 80523
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Abstract

During the months of May, June, July and August, 1978, a record number of damaging hailstorms, causing losses upward of $100 million, struck along the High Plains and Front Range regions of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Nine of these storms were observed from the GOES-E geostationary satellite with the digital visible and infrared data recorded at the CSU Direct Readout Satellite Groundstation. The digital, navigated imagery were processed on an interactive image processing system for detection of hail signatures.

In all but one case of reported hail, the coldest cloud-top temperature of the storm system located nearest the hailfall was from 1 to 8°C colder than the environmental tropopause temperature during at least a portion of its lifetime. In most cases this occurred coincident with the best estimate of the onset of hail. Also, the imagery showed each of these storm complexes having long lifetimes (2–5 h), with some exhibiting temperatures colder than the tropopause temperature for this length of time. Through analysis of the 22 June 1976 NHRE storm complex, it was determined that hailfall occurred at close to the maximum growth rate of the storm. This paper thus begins to identify a potential technique for identifying damaging hailstorms through proper enhancement of digital GOES infrared imagery.

Abstract

During the months of May, June, July and August, 1978, a record number of damaging hailstorms, causing losses upward of $100 million, struck along the High Plains and Front Range regions of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana. Nine of these storms were observed from the GOES-E geostationary satellite with the digital visible and infrared data recorded at the CSU Direct Readout Satellite Groundstation. The digital, navigated imagery were processed on an interactive image processing system for detection of hail signatures.

In all but one case of reported hail, the coldest cloud-top temperature of the storm system located nearest the hailfall was from 1 to 8°C colder than the environmental tropopause temperature during at least a portion of its lifetime. In most cases this occurred coincident with the best estimate of the onset of hail. Also, the imagery showed each of these storm complexes having long lifetimes (2–5 h), with some exhibiting temperatures colder than the tropopause temperature for this length of time. Through analysis of the 22 June 1976 NHRE storm complex, it was determined that hailfall occurred at close to the maximum growth rate of the storm. This paper thus begins to identify a potential technique for identifying damaging hailstorms through proper enhancement of digital GOES infrared imagery.

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