The Influence of Topographic Variability on Severe Weather

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Colton D. Eddy, Northland College, Ashland, WI

The focus of this project was to determine if the Penokee Mountains, in northern Wisconsin, have an effect on severe weather in the region. To conduct the research, storm reports gathered from the Storm Prediction Center were analyzed to determine which days within the past decade had significant storm damage around and near the Penokees. Radar data was analyzed using the information from the storm reports to determine which days seemed to be the best candidates for any sort of influence (strengthening or weakening, building from orographic lifting, motion of the storm) from the mountains on the storms. The WRF model was used to run two basic cases: one includes the Penokee mountains and in the other the Penokees were removed and the elevation was set to a value indicative of elevation near the south shore of Lake Superior. Model results suggest that the Penokee Mountains have a large impact on the surface energy budget (and hence severe weather activity) in the region.