Climatological Analysis of Hail within the Central Appalachian Mountains Region of the Eastern United States

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Sunday, 2 February 2014
Hall C3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Ashley Taylor Athey, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA; and A. W. Ellis and L. G. Yokley

Hail is a commonly studied event in the Great Plains region of the United States. The occurrence of hail in the Appalachian Mountains is understudied, yet it is a significant element of the local climate and impacts social and physical systems. The combination of mountain topography, warm low-level moisture and commonly occurring unorganized convection make for a unique hail climatology. The study area consists of the Blacksburg, Virginia National Weather Service county warning area, which gives a wide variety of terrain types, including mountains above 4000 feet in elevation and much lower Piedmont regions. SPC hail data were used with emphasis on the 1995 2012 time period accounting for radar improvements and relocation. Temporal variability of hail days and hail events was assessed using a monthly climatology of two month sub-seasons to highlight the severe weather season. A time series analysis of hail events/days reveal a general increase in hail occurrences over the seventeen year study period. Synoptic scale atmospheric composites were assessed to find correlations between sub-seasons and synoptic scale variables. Hail damage was analyzed to display the effects of hail occurrence on property and crop losses. Sounding parameters were also analyzed for the year 2012 to uncover any specific indicators of hail events.