Severe convective storms across Europe and the United States. Part II: ERA5 environments associated with lightning, large hail, severe wind, and tornadoes

Mateusz Taszarek, John T. Allen, Tomás Púcik, Kimberly A. Hoogewind, Harold E. Brooks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this study we investigate convective environments and their corresponding climatological features over Europe and the United States. For this purpose, National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) and Arrival Time Difference long-range lightning detection network (ATDnet) data, ERA5 hybrid-sigma levels, and severe weather reports from the European Severe Weather Database (ESWD) and Storm Prediction Center (SPC) Storm Data were combined on a common grid of 0.258 and 1-h steps over the period 1979-2018. The severity of convective hazards increases with increasing instability and wind shear (WMAXSHEAR), but climatological aspects of these features differ over both domains. Environments over the United States are characterized by higher moisture, CAPE, CIN, wind shear, and midtropospheric lapse rates. Conversely, 0-3-km CAPE and low-level lapse rates are higher over Europe. From the climatological perspective severe thunderstorm environments (hours) are around 3-4 times more frequent over the United States with peaks across the Great Plains, Midwest, and Southeast. Over Europe severe environments are the most common over the south with local maxima in northern Italy. Despite having lower CAPE (tail distribution of 3000-4000 J kg21 compared to 6000-8000 J kg21 over the United States), thunderstorms over Europe have a higher probability for convective initiation given a favorable environment. Conversely, the lowest probability for initiation is observed over the Great Plains, but, once a thunderstorm develops, the probability that it will become severe is much higher compared to Europe. Prime conditions for severe thunderstorms over the United States are between April and June, typically from 1200 to 2200 central standard time (CST), while across Europe favorable environments are observed from June to August, usually between 1400 and 2100 UTC.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10263-10286
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Climate
Volume33
Issue number24
DOIs
StatePublished - 2020

Keywords

  • CAPE
  • Climatology
  • Convective storms
  • Diurnal effects
  • Reanalysis data
  • Seasonal cycle

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