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Windstorms in the Northeastern United States

Letson, F. W., Barthelmie, R. J., Hodges, K. I. and Pryor, S. C. (2021) Windstorms in the Northeastern United States. Natural Hazards and Earth System Science. ISSN 1684-9981 (In Press)

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To link to this item DOI: 10.5194/nhess-2020-345


Windstorms are a major natural hazard in many countries. Windstorms during the last four decades in the U.S. Northeast are identified and characterized using the spatial extent of locally extreme wind speeds at 100 m height from the ERA5 reanalysis database. During all of the top 10 windstorms, wind speeds in excess of their local 99.9th percentile extend over at least one-third of land-based ERA5 grid cells in this high population density 10 region of the U.S. Maximum sustained wind speeds during these windstorms range from 26 to over 43 ms-1, with wind speed return periods exceeding 6.5 to 106 years (considering the top 5% of grid cells during each storm). The property damage associated with these storms (inflation adjusted to January 2020) is $24 million to over $29 billion. Two of these windstorms are linked to decaying tropical cyclones, three are Alberta Clippers and the remaining storms are Colorado Lows. Two of the ten re-intensified off the east coast leading to development of 15 Nor’easters. These windstorms followed frequently observed cyclone tracks, but exhibit intensities as measured using 700 hPa relative vorticity and mean sea level pressure that are ten times mean values for cyclones that followed similar tracks over this 40-year period. The time-evolution of wind speeds and concurrent precipitation for those windstorms that occurred after the year 2000 exhibit good agreement with in situ ground-based and remote sensing observations, plus storm damage reports, indicating that the ERA5 reanalysis data have a high 20 degree of fidelity for large, damaging windstorms such as these. A larger pool of the top 50 largest windstorms exhibits evidence of serial clustering, but to a degree that is lower than comparable statistics from Europe.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > NCAS
Science > School of Mathematical, Physical and Computational Sciences > Department of Meteorology
ID Code:94536
Publisher:European Geosciences Union

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