A severe thunderstorm climatology for Australia and associated thunderstorm environments

John T. Allen, David J. Karoly, Graham A. Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

58 Scopus citations


Severe thunderstorms can present a significant threat to life and property in Australia. A unique and broad database of severe thunderstorm reports has been constructed for the Australian region for 2003-2010 from observer reports of hailstones, winds in excess of 90 km h-1 and, less frequently, tornadoes. Based on this database, a climatology of atmospheric environments associated with the occurrence of severe thunderstorms in Australia was developed using pseudo-proximity soundings from the MesoLAPS numerical weather prediction model simulations. Observed soundings have been used to verify derived soundings from MesoLAPS simulations, with a reasonable performance over much of the continent. Proximity rawinsonde soundings from the MesoLAPS simulations were identified for each of the severe thunderstorm reports to develop the climatology of environments. This climatology was then used to derive discriminants between environments with an increased likelihood of severe thunderstorm occurrence and other thunderstorm environments. This appears to be the best way to produce a long-term climatology of severe thunderstorm environment occurrence in a sparsely populated continent without considering the complex problem of initiation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-158
Number of pages16
JournalAustralian Meteorological and Oceanographic Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2011


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