Climatology of Convective Storms in Estonia from Radar Data and Severe Convective Environments


Data from the C-band weather radar located in central Estonia in conjunction with the latest reanalysis of the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), ERA5, and Nordic Lightning Information System (NORDLIS) lightning location system data are used to investigate the climatology of convective storms for nine summer periods (2010-2019, 2017 excluded). First, an automated 35-dBZ reflectivity threshold-based storm area detection algorithm is used to derive initial individual convective cells from the base level radar reflectivity. Those detected cells are used as a basis combined with convective available potential energy (CAPE) values from ERA5 reanalysis to find thresholds for a severe convective storm in Estonia. A severe convective storm is defined as an area with radar reflectivity at least 51 dBZ and CAPE at least 80 J/kg. Verification of those severe convective storm areas with lightning data reveals a good correlation on various temporal scales from hourly to yearly distributions. The probability of a severe convective storm day in the study area during the summer period is 45%, and the probability of a thunderstorm day is 54%. Jenkinson Collison' circulation types are calculated from ERA5 reanalysis to find the probability of a severe convective storm depending on the circulation direction and the representativeness of the investigated period by comparing it against 1979-2019. The prevailing airflow direction is from SW and W, whereas the probability of the convective storm to be severe is in the case of SE and S airflow. Finally, the spatial distribution of the severe convective storms shows that the yearly mean number of severe convective days for the 100 km(2) grid cell is mostly between 3 and 8 in the distance up to 150 km from radar. Severe convective storms are most frequent in W and SW parts of continental Estonia.