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Mid-Atlantic Severe Storms:

Forecasting Challenges and


Climatology of the Region
Jeffrey Halverson, Severe Weather Expert, Capital Weather Gang
Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems, UMBC
Ian Livingston, Information Lead and Forecaster, Capital Weather Gang

Mid-Atlantic ChaserCon | October 27, 2018 | Richmond, Virginia


Long-term frequency of reports by month

Words
Severe wind and derechos
Wind reports by year

Tons of reports these days! A lot of population bias, plus way more spotters… and trees fall in sub-severe winds.
Derecho quick facts
• Widespread (long track) wind
damage swath from convective
storm line/arc (> 240 nmi, wind
criteria)
• Damage and societal disruption on
par with that of landfalling
hurricane or major tornado
outbreak (Ashley and Mote, 2005)
• Peak months = June, July, August
• Defining event = June 29, 2012 Ohio
Valley-Mid Atlantic Derecho
• The singular warm season severe
event that now strikes
fear/panic/anxiety in people
Derecho climatology
• 1996-2013 (Guastini and Bosart,
2016)
• Summertime progressive
derecho corridor
• Upper Midwest-Ohio
Valley maximum
• Abrupt decrease in
frequency @
Appalachians
• A few slip lee of the
mountains
A typical derecho setup
July 4, 1980 derecho

Observed surface gusts (mph) shown in red


August 26, 2003 derecho

• Bow echo moved rapidly southeast out of


Indiana, Ohio, W. Va and Pennsylvania

• Produced widespread severe wind damage


across DC suburbs and multi-day power
outages
June 4, 2008 derecho family

2
1

• A series (family) of bow echoes


moved rapidly east out of Indiana,
Ohio, W. Va into MD and Virginia

• Produced widespread severe wind


damage across DC suburbs &
multi-day power outages
June 29-30, 2012
derecho
- Path length = 950 miles
- Formed during intense heat
wave
- 29 fatalities
- Forward speed = 50-70 mph
- Gusts 70-100 mph
- 1,100 wind damage reports
(SPC)
- Mid-Atlantic: 4.5M without
power
- 300 severe thunderstorm
warnings
June 12-13, 2013 derecho family
- First derecho dissipated over DC region early AM
- Second derecho developed late AM, further south
- Supercell/bow echo structure developed mid-
afternoon over WV panhandle, tracked east
- Formed ICC Tornado (21 mi EF0)
- Likely formed from uplift, helicity along first
derecho’s outflow boundary
Derecho forecasting challenges
• Environmental corridor can
be established for 1+
days…but will a derecho
actually initiate?
• We still do not agree on
how to define a derecho
• Upstream bow echo
progressing out of Ohio,
with damaging wind
history…will it survive its
Appalachian crossing?
• Sneaky wintertime cases
February 12, 2017 ???
Mid-Atlantic hail
Hail quick facts
• Hail peak comes on the early side of
storm peak as the atmosphere is Timonium, MD
coldest early season
June 23, 2015
• Peak months = May, June
• Most hailstorms here are barely
severe (1+ inch), but large hail
happens annually
• The largest hail stones on record in
the region are huge:
• 5.0 inches in Loudoun County and far
SW VA; every state other than DE and
NJ have seen 4.5 inch hail Near-record 4-inch hailstone
Very large hail (2”+) days by year
14

12

10

0
1988
1989
1990
1991
1992
1993
1994
1995
1996
1997

1999
2000
2001
2002
2003
2004
2005
2006
2007
2008

2010
2011
2012
2013
2014
2015
2016
2017
1998

2009
Increased Mid-Atlantic supercells? Some indication big hail days are more frequent, but remains rather variable.
Mid-Atlantic tornadoes
This is NOT a
Mid-Atlantic tornado
Tornado quick facts
• Consistent if sporadic tornado
activity through warm season, from Timonium, MD
Apr through Sep (and Oct this year!)
June 23, 2015
• Peak tends to come w/ thunderstorm
peak but varies. Jun-Jul favored, Sep if
tropical. Apr some years.
• PA only state in region with F/EF5,
during major May 1985 outbreak.
VA and MD have seen F/EF4. All
other, max is F/EF3.
• Largest outbreaks in region by
numbers: Hurricane Ivan – Sep 17- College Park, MD F3 – Sep 24, 2001
18, 2004 (33) and Jul 27, 1994 (25)
Title stuff
Typical Mid-Atlantic tornado event setup
• Low pressure west and/or
northwest; sometimes more
than one – one in lakes, one Timonium, MD
elsewhere June 23, 2015
• Warm fronts often key;
tropical systems; leeside
trough; squall lines and
derechos; bay breeze, and
terrain influence
• Low instability/high shear;
supercells
• “Backed” winds, usually from
southeast at surface
Typical Mid-Atlantic tornado event setup

Timonium, MD
June 23, 2015

June 1, 2012 Sept 17, 2018


Timonium, MD
June 23, 2015
Mid-Atlantic Severe Storms:
Forecasting Challenges and
Climatology of the Region
Jeffrey Halverson, Severe Weather Expert, Capital Weather Gang
Professor of Geography and Environmental Systems, UMBC
Ian Livingston, Information Lead and Forecaster, Capital Weather Gang

Mid-Atlantic ChaserCon | October 27, 2018 | Richmond, Virginia