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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-365
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2018-365
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Research article 17 Dec 2018

Research article | 17 Dec 2018

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

Synoptic-scale conditions and convection-permitting hindcast experiments of a cold-season derecho on 3 January 2014 in Western Europe

Luca Mathias1, Patrick Ludwig2, and Joaquim G. Pinto2 Luca Mathias et al.
  • 1Institute for Geophysics and Meteorology, University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany
  • 2Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, Karlsruhe, Germany

Abstract. A major linear mesoscale convective system caused severe weather over northern France, Belgium, the Netherlands and northwestern Germany on 3 January 2014. The storm was classified as a cold-season derecho with widespread wind gusts exceeding 25 m s−1. While such derechos occasionally develop along cold fronts of extra-tropical cyclones, this system formed in a postfrontal air mass along a baroclinic surface pressure trough favoured by strong large-scale air ascent induced by an intense mid-level jet. The lower-tropospheric conditions were characterized by weak latent instability and strong vertical wind shear. Given the poor operational forecast of the storm, we analyse the role of initial and lateral boundary conditions to the storm's development by performing convection-permitting simulations with different datasets. The storm is best represented in simulations with high temporally and spatially resolved ERA5 initial and lateral boundary conditions, which provide the most realistic development of the essential surface pressure trough. Moreover, simulations at convection-resolving scale enable a better representation of the observed derecho intensity. This case study indicates that high resolution ensemble simulations might be important to overcome the current shortcomings of forecasting cold-season convective storms, particularly for cases not associated with a cold front.

Luca Mathias et al.
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Luca Mathias et al.
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Short summary
Convective systems producing severe winds occasionally affect Europe during wintertime and the majority of these storms develop along well-defined cold fronts of extra-tropical cyclones. However, on 3 January 2014, a storm formed in a post-frontal air mass over Western Europe. This study analyses the prevailing environmental conditions and the predictability of this storm. Our results reveal the difficulty to forecast cold-season convective storms when they are not associated with a cold front.
Convective systems producing severe winds occasionally affect Europe during wintertime and the...
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