Weather and Forecasting

Article: pp. 1031–1044 | Full Text | PDF (3.42M)

A Five-Year Climatology of Elevated Severe Convective Storms in the United States East of the Rocky Mountains

Katherine L. Horgan

National Weather Center Research Experiences for Undergraduates, Norman, Oklahoma, and North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina

David M. Schultz

Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma, and NOAA/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

John E. Hales Jr. and Stephen F. Corfidi

NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Storm Prediction Center, Norman, Oklahoma

Robert H. Johns

Norman, Oklahoma

(Manuscript received 1 June 2006, in final form 28 September 2006)

DOI: 10.1175/WAF1032.1


A 5-yr climatology of elevated severe convective storms was constructed for 1983–87 east of the Rocky Mountains. Potential cases were selected by finding severe storm reports on the cold side of surface fronts. Of the 1826 days during the 5-yr period, 1689 (91%) had surface fronts east of the Rockies. Of the 1689 days with surface fronts, 129 (8%) were associated with elevated severe storm cases. Of the 1066 severe storm reports associated with the 129 elevated severe storm cases, 624 (59%) were hail reports, 396 (37%) were wind reports, and 46 (4%) were tornado reports. A maximum of elevated severe storm cases occurred in May with a secondary maximum in September. Elevated severe storm cases vary geographically throughout the year, with a maximum over the south-central United States in winter to a central and eastern U.S. maximum in spring and summer. A diurnal maximum of elevated severe storm cases occurred at 2100 UTC, which coincided with the diurnal maximum of hail reports. The wind reports had a broad maximum during the daytime. Because the forecasting of hail from elevated storms typically does not pose as significant a forecast challenge as severe wind for forecasters and tornadoes from elevated storms are relatively uncommon, this study focuses on the occurrence of severe wind from elevated storms. Elevated severe storm cases that produce only severe wind reports occurred roughly 5 times a year. To examine the environments associated with cases that produced severe winds only, five cases were examined in more detail. Common elements among the five cases included elevated convective available potential energy, weak surface easterlies, and shallow near-surface stable layers (less than 100 hPa thick).




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