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Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences An interactive open-access journal of the European Geosciences Union
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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-309
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-309
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 12 Nov 2018

Research article | 12 Nov 2018

Review status
This discussion paper is a preprint. It is a manuscript under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Spatial variability and potential maximum intensity of winter storms over Europe

Michael A. Walz and Gregor C. Leckebusch Michael A. Walz and Gregor C. Leckebusch
  • University of Birmingham, School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, B15 2TT, UK

Abstract. Extra–tropical wind storms pose one of the most dangerous and loss intensive natural hazards for Europe. However, due to only 50 years of high quality observational data, it is difficult to assess the statistical uncertainty of these sparse events just based on observations. Over the last decade seasonal ensemble forecasts have become indispensable in quantifying the uncertainty of weather prediction on seasonal time scales. In this study seasonal forecasts are used in a climatological context: By making use of the up to 51 ensemble members a broad, physically consistent statistical base can be created. This large sample can thus be used to assess the uncertainty of extreme wind storm features such as intensity or severity more accurately. In particular return periods and even a potential maximum intensity of windstorms and extra–tropical cyclones (ETCs) can be calculated depending on a specific cluster or region in Europe. A 100-year event minimum core pressure in Central Europe, for example, is estimated to be around 940hPa, whereas it would be around 928hPa for the British Isles. By employing extreme value statistics a potential minimum core pressure (maximum curvature) can be estimated as well. This is way below (above) a 1000-year event however, it can therefore be seen more as a physical barrier than a realistic scenario.

Michael A. Walz and Gregor C. Leckebusch
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Michael A. Walz and Gregor C. Leckebusch
Michael A. Walz and Gregor C. Leckebusch
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Latest update: 13 Dec 2018
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Short summary
Extra-tropical windstorms represent one of the biggest natural hazards for Europe. In this paper we use a method to categorise the tracks (based on the shape of the track) of these storms into three different groups. The characteristics of the storms in each of the three groups is then analysed with regards to size, duration or intensity. By using extreme-value statistics we can further estimate what would be a maximum intensity storm for each of the three groups.
Extra-tropical windstorms represent one of the biggest natural hazards for Europe. In this paper...
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