Dual-Doppler Derived Vorticity as a Predictor of Hail Size in Severe Thunderstorms

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

One of the primary missions of the National Weather Service (NWS) is to use a network of more than 150 NEXRAD radar installations to monitor weather for threats to life and property. Large hail produced by severe thunderstorms is a major focus of this mission. An algorithm known as the Maximum Estimated Size of Hail (MESH) algorithm is in operational use to diagnose the presence and size of hail. This study aims to use dual-Doppler observations as well as the MESH algorithm to test the idea that storms that rotate produce larger hail. Previous studies have used polarimetric radar products to detect the presence of large hail and dual-Doppler methods have been used to study embryonic hail, but no research has tested the theory of hail and rotating storms with observational evidence. A set of 59 case studies was gathered; each included a hail report submitted by a trained weather spotter or NWS employee and complete radar observations through the depth of a storm from two radars. The radar observations were resampled to a three-dimensional Cartesian grid and a dual-Doppler analysis was run on each case study. A strong correlation (stronger even than the MESH algorithm) was found between measured vorticity and hail size, lending credence to the idea that rotating storms do indeed have a higher ceiling for hail production. However, no correlation was found between MESH error and rotation. Further research will be required to evaluate whether or not this relationship can be used to augment the MESH algorithm so as to improve its skill.

hail size, severe thunderstorm, supercell, dual Doppler