A climatology of convective and non-convective high-wind events in the eastern United States during 1973-2015 (234)

Josh Durkee, Meteorology Program, Western Kentucky University, Bowling Green, KY

Tori Murley, Western Kentucky University




High-wind events occur across every region of the United States and result in hundreds of fatalities, as well as thousands of dollars in damages annually. These events are classified as sustained high-winds or high-wind gusts and can be generated from convective or non-convective weather systems. The purpose of this study is to investigate convective and non-convective high-wind observations across the eastern U.S. during a 43-year climatological period (1973-2015) for spatial and temporal variations in wind speed and direction. Hourly surface wind observations were gathered from the National Centers for Environmental Information Data Center Integrated Surface Database. This dataset includes quality-controlled wind observations from 391 first-order weather stations east of the Rockies. Initial findings show that convective high-wind gusts were most dominant in the Midwest and typically occurred during the warm season. Non-convective high-wind gusts were more prevalent throughout the entire U.S. and were most common during the cool season. Sustained high-winds were not observed as frequently compared to high-wind gusts and typically originated from non-convective systems. A westerly and southwesterly directional preference was indicated for both sustained high-winds and high-wind gusts however, sustained high-winds exhibited greater variability. Additionally, convective and non-convective sustained high-wind magnitudes have decreased with time. Convective high-wind gust magnitudes have also decreased while non-convective high-wind gust magnitudes have increased during the period of record.