6.4 Influence of Anomalous Sea Surface Temperatures on Severe Thunderstorm Formation along the U.S. Gulf Coast

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 11:15 AM
Room 12B (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Matthew Haworth, StormGeo, Houston, TX; and N. Stanford and J. Basciani

A comparison of Gulf of Mexico sea surface temperature anomalies with severe thunderstorm days, defined as 5 or more severe reports during the late winter through spring time period (January 1 to May 31) from the year 2000-2017, is presented. In contrast to Edwards and Weiss (1996), our domain will be focused within 150 miles of the coast from Corpus Christ, TX to New Orleans, LA. During the 17-year period, 202 severe thunderstorm days have been identified. It has been observed by forecasters along the western and central Gulf Coast that the possible development of a marine stable layer during periods of a cooler than normal Gulf basin may act to inhibit or prevent convective development in an otherwise favorable environment. We investigate this hypothesis by evaluating radiosonde data to get a better understanding of the vertical structure of the atmosphere and visualize the presence of a low-level stable layer. In addition to the standard radiosonde launch sites, radiosonde data acquired near downtown Houston from a collaboration between StormGeo and the University of Houston is used. This data is also sent to local National Weather Service and Storm Prediction Center forecasters to better fill the “data gap” over southeastern Texas. Radiosonde profiles are examined against monthly sea surface temperature anomalies and measureable occurrence of severe thunderstorms to see if a correlation exists in an attempt to better understand the yearly variation of severe thunderstorm occurrences across the western and central Gulf coast states.
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