A Synoptic Climatology of Derecho Producing Mesoscale Convective Systems in the North-Central Plains
Mote, Thomas L.
Byrd, Stephen F.
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Synoptic-scale environments favourable for producing derechos, or widespread convectively induced windstorms, in the North-Central Plains are examined with the goal of providing pattern-recognition:diagnosis techniques. Fifteen derechos were identified across the North-Central Plains region during 1986–1995. The synoptic environment at the initiation, mid-point and decay of each derecho was then evaluated using surface, upper-air and National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR):National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) reanalysis datasets. Results suggest that the synoptic environment is critical in maintaining derecho producing mesoscale convective systems (DMCSs). The synoptic environment in place downstream of the MCS initiation region determines the movement and potential strength of the system. Circulation around surface low pressure increased the instability gradient and maximized leading edge convergence in the initiation region of nearly all events regardless of DMCS location or movement. Other commonalities in the environments of these events include the presence of a weak thermal boundary, high convective instability and a layer of dry low-to-mid-tropospheric air. Of the two corridors sampled, northeastward moving derechos tend to initiate east of synoptic-scale troughs, while southeastward moving derechos form on the northeast periphery of a synoptic-scale ridge. Other differences between these two DMCS events are also discussed.