Radar and environment-based hail damage estimates using machine learning

Ackermann, Luis; Soderholm, Joshua; Protat, Alain; Whitley, Rhys; Ye, Lisa; Ridder, Nina

Large hail events are typically infrequent, with significant time gaps between occurrences at specific locations. However, when these events do happen, they can cause rapid and substantial economic losses within a matter of minutes. Therefore, it is crucial to have the ability to accurately observe and understand hail phenomena to improve the mitigation of this impact. While in situ observations are accurate, they are limited in number for an individual storm. Weather radars, on the other hand, provide a larger observation footprint, but current radar-derived hail size estimates exhibit low accuracy due to horizontal advection of hailstones as they fall, the variability of hail size distributions (HSDs), complex scattering and attenuation, and mixed hydrometeor types. In this paper, we propose a new radar-derived hail product developed using a large dataset of hail damage insurance claims and radar observations. We use these datasets coupled with environmental information to calculate a hail damage estimate (HDE) using a deep neural network approach aiming to quantify hail impact, with a critical success index of 0.88 and a coefficient of determination against observed damage of 0.79. Furthermore, we compared HDE to a popular hail size product (MESH), allowing us to identify meteorological conditions that are associated with biases on MESH. Environments with relatively low specific humidity, high CAPE and CIN, low wind speeds aloft, and southerly winds at the ground are associated with a negative MESH bias, potentially due to differences in HSD, hail hardness, or mixed hydrometeors. In contrast, environments with low CAPE, high CIN, and relatively high specific humidity aloft are associated with a positive MESH bias.

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Ackermann, Luis / Soderholm, Joshua / Protat, Alain / et al: Radar and environment-based hail damage estimates using machine learning. 2024. Copernicus Publications.

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