Synoptic and Mesoscale Climatologies of Severe Local Storms for the American Midwest.
This study investigates the synoptic and mesoscale environments associated with severe local storms (SELS) in the heart of the American Midwest. This region includes west-central Illinois, most of Indiana, the extreme western counties of Ohio, and a small part of northeastern Kentucky. The primary objectives of this study are to determine the surface and middle-tropospheric synoptic circulation patterns and thermodynamic and kinematic environments associated with SELS event types (tornadoes, hail, severe straight -line winds), and to assess the degree to which the synoptic circulation patterns and meso-beta scale kinematic and thermodynamic climatology of the Midwest differ from that of the Great Plains. A secondary objective is to investigate the possible role that land-surface atmosphere interactions play in the spatial distribution of SELS. A new subjective synoptic typing scheme is developed and applied to determine the synoptic-scale circulation patterns associated with the occurrence of SELS event types. This scheme is based on a combination of surface and middle -tropospheric patterns. Thermodynamic and kinematic parameters are analyzed to determine meso-scale environments favorable for the development of SELS. Results indicate that key synoptic-scale circulation patterns, and specific ranges of thermodynamic and kinematic parameters are related to specific SELS event types. These circulation types and ranges of thermodynamic and kinematic parameters may be used to help improve the medium-range forecasting of severe local storms. Results of the secondary objective reveal that the spatial distribution of SELS events is clustered within the study region, and most occur under a negative climate division-level soil moisture gradient; that is, a drier upwind division than the division in which the event occurs. Moreover, the spatial distribution of SELS events is compared against a map of soil types and vegetation. The resulting distribution depicts a visual correlation between the primary soil and vegetative boundaries and clusters of SELS. This supports the likely role of meso-scale land-surface-atmosphere interactions in severe weather development for humid lowlands of the Midwest United States.
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- Physical Geography; Physics: Atmospheric Science