A 15-year hail streak climatology for the Alpine region

Nisi, Luca Domenico; Hering, Alessandro; Germann, Urs; Martius, Olivia (2018). A 15-year hail streak climatology for the Alpine region. Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society, 144(714), pp. 1429-1449. Royal Meteorological Society 10.1002/qj.3286

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In this study, we present a unique 15-year hail streak climatology for Switzerland based on volumetric radar reflectivity. Two radar-based hail detection products and an automatic thunderstorm-tracking algorithm were reprocessed for the Extended convective season (April–September) between 2002 and 2016. More than 1.1 Million convective cells were automatically tracked over the full radar domain, and over 191,000 storms and 31,000 hail streaks in the considered subdomain were selected for analysis following consistency and robustness tests. The year-to-year variability in t h e number of hailstorms reveals two types of convective seasons: (a) a few seasons with hail frequency far above the average, and (b) all other years with an average number of hailstorms. A high number of hailstorms in a particular year is not correlated with a higher number of convective storms in general, but is related to a greater fraction of severe storms. Convection initiation, hail initiation, and hail frequency maxima are located along the southern and northern foothills over the pre-Alpine area and over th e Jura mountains. Few hail streaks are present over the Alpine main ridge. Hail streak frequency and location is found to be strongly dependent on the synoptic-scale weather regimes. This is important for monthly and seasonal outlooks, as well as for climate modelling. Analysis of storm life cycles shows that: (a) the majority of hail swaths contain only a single hail streak, (b) severe storms follow a more rapid evolution during their initial stages than do less severe storms, and (c) severe storms produce more spatially extended hail streaks. Finally, significant seasonal and diurnal cycles are present in most of the considered storm characteristics.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography > Unit Impact
08 Faculty of Science > Institute of Geography > Physical Geography

UniBE Contributor:

Nisi, Luca Domenico and Romppainen-Martius, Olivia


500 Science > 550 Earth sciences & geology
900 History > 910 Geography & travel




Royal Meteorological Society


[245] Mobiliar Lab für Naturrisiken Official URL




Hélène Christine Louise Barras

Date Deposited:

16 Oct 2018 08:43

Last Modified:

22 Oct 2019 18:47

Publisher DOI:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

Alps, convection, hail, hail streak, hail swath, Switzerland, thunderstorm, thunderstorm tracking, weather radar





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