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Discussion papers
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-412
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
https://doi.org/10.5194/nhess-2019-412
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Submitted as: research article 02 Jan 2020

Submitted as: research article | 02 Jan 2020

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

Ambient conditions prevailing during hail events in central Europe

Michael Kunz1,2, Jan Wandel1, Elody Fluck1,a, Sven Baumstark1,b, Susanna Mohr1,2, and Sebastian Schemm3 Michael Kunz et al.
  • 1Institute of Meteorology and Climate Research (IMK), Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Karlsruhe, Germany
  • 2Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology, KIT, Germany
  • 3Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • anow at: Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel
  • bnow at: Heine + Jud, Stuttgart, Germany

Abstract. Around 26 000 severe convective storm tracks between 2005 and 2014 have been estimated from 2D radar reflectivity for parts of Europe, including Germany, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. This event-set was further combined with eyewitness reports, convection-related parameters from ERA-Interim reanalysis and synoptic-scale fronts based on the same reanalysis. Our analyses reveal that about a quarter of all severe thunderstorms in the investigation area were associated with a front. Over complex terrains, such as in southern Germany, the proportion of frontal convective storms is around 10–15 %, while over flat terrain half of the events require a front to trigger convection. Frontal hailstorms on average produce larger hailstones and have a longer track. These events usually develop in a high-shear environment. Using composites of environmental conditions centered around the hailstorm tracks, we found that dynamical proxies such as deep-layer shear or storm-relative helicity become important when separating hail diameters and, in particular, their lengths; 0–3 km helicity as a dynamical proxy performs better compared to wind shear for the separation. In contrast, thermodynamical proxies such as Lifted Index or lapse rate show only small differences between the different intensity classes.

Michael Kunz et al.
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Michael Kunz et al.
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Short summary
Severe convective storms are a major loss driver in central Europe. To better understand their frequency and characteristics, we have reconstructed thousands of storm tracks over a 10-year period for parts of Europe and additionally combined with eyewitness reports, mode data and front analyses. It is found that frontal hailstorms on average produce larger hailstones and have longer tracks. Long storm tracks – having the highest damage potential – only develop in high wind shear Environments.
Severe convective storms are a major loss driver in central Europe. To better understand their...
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