An 18-year climatology of derechos in Germany

Gatzen, Christoph P.; Fink, Andreas H.; Schultz, David M.; Pinto, Joaquim G.

Derechos are high-impact convective wind events that can cause fatalities and widespread losses. In this study, 40 derechos affecting Germany between 1997 and 2014 are analyzed to estimate the derecho risk. Similar to the United States, Germany is affected by two derecho types. The first, called warm-season-type derechos, form in strong southwesterly 500 hPa flow downstream of western European troughs and account for 22 of the 40 derechos. They have a peak occurrence in June and July. Warm-season-type derechos frequently start in the afternoon and move either eastward along the Alpine forelands or northeastward across southern central Germany. Associated proximity soundings indicate strong 0–6 and 0–3 km vertical wind shear and a median of mixed-layer convective available potential energy (mixed-layer CAPE) around 500 J kginline-formula−1. The second derecho type, the cold-season-type derecho, forms in strong northwesterly 500 hPa flow, frequently in association with mid-tropospheric potential vorticity (PV) intrusions, and accounts for 18 of the 40 derechos. They are associated with a secondary peak from December to February. Cold-season-type derechos start over or close to the North Sea and primarily affect northern and central Germany; their start time is not strongly related to the peak of diurnal heating. Proximity soundings indicate high-shear–low-CAPE environments. A total of 15 warm-season-type and 9 cold-season-type derechos had wind gusts reaching 33 m sinline-formula−1 in at least three locations. Although warm-season derechos are more frequent, the path length of cold-season-type derechos is on average 1.4 times longer. Thus, these two types of German derechos are likely to have similar impacts.

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Gatzen, Christoph P. / Fink, Andreas H. / Schultz, David M. / et al: An 18-year climatology of derechos in Germany. 2020. Copernicus Publications.

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