Kunz, M., Wandel, J., Fluck, E., Baumstark, S., Mohr, S., and Schemm, S. (2020): Ambient conditions prevailing during hail events in central Europe, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 1867–1887, doi:10.5194/nhess-20-1867-2020.
Around 26 000 severe convective storm tracks between 2005 and 2014 have been estimated from 2D radar reflectivity for parts of Europe, including Germany, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg. This event set was further combined with eyewitness reports, environmental conditions, and synoptic-scale fronts based on the ERA-Interim (ECMWF Reanalysis) reanalysis. Our analyses reveal that on average about a quarter of all severe thunderstorms in the investigation area were associated with a front. Over complex terrains, such as in southern Germany, the proportion of frontal convective storms is around 10 %–15 %, while over flat terrain half of the events require a front to trigger convection.
Frontal storm tracks associated with hail on average produce larger hailstones and have a longer track. These events usually develop in a high-shear environment. Using composites of environmental conditions centered around the hailstorm tracks, we found that dynamical proxies such as deep-layer shear or storm-relative helicity become important when separating hail diameters and, in particular, their lengths; 0–3 km helicity as a dynamical proxy performs better compared to wind shear for the separation. In contrast, thermodynamical proxies such as the lifted index or lapse rate show only small differences between the different intensity classes.