Influence of a hailstreak on boundary layer evolution

Zewdu T. Segele, David J. Stensrud, Ian C. Ratcliffe, Geoffrey M. Henebry

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11 Scopus citations


Severe thunderstorms developed on 20 June 1997 and produced heavy precipitation, damaging winds, and large hail over two swaths in southeastern South Dakota. Calculations of fractional vegetation coverage (scaled from 0 to 1) based upon composite satellite data indicate that, within the hailstreak region, vegetation coverage decreased from 0.50 to near 0.25 owing to the damaging effects of hail on the growing vegetation. The northern edge of the larger hailstreak was located a few kilometers south of Chamberlain, South Dakota, a National Weather Service surface observation site. Hourly observations from Chamberlain and several nearby surface sites in South Dakota are averaged over 7 days both before and after this hail event. These observations illustrate that the late-afternoon (nighttime) temperatures are 2°C higher (2°C lower) near the hailstreak after the event than before the event. Similarly, daily average dewpoint temperatures after the event are 2.6°C lower near the hailstreak. These changes are consistent with the influences of a recently devegetated zone on changes to the surface energy budget. To explore how these hailstreaks further affected the evolution of the planetary boundary layer in this region, two model simulations are performed using the fifth-generation Pennsylvania State University-National Center for Atmospheric Research (PSU-NCAR) Mesoscale Model (MM5). In the control run, climatology is used for the land surface characteristics, and hence the simulation is independent of the hailstreaks. In the hailstreak simulation (HSS), the fractional vegetation coverage and soil moisture in the hailstreak regions are modified to reflect the likely conditions within the hailstreaks. Two different days are simulated: One with low surface wind speeds and one with stronger surface wind speeds. For the low surface wind speed case, the HSS simulation produces a sea-breeze-like circulation in the boundary layer by midmorning. For the stronger surface wind speed case, this sea-breeze-like circulation does not develop in the HSS, but the simulated low-level temperatures are modified over a larger area. These results suggest that to capture and reasonably simulate the evolution of boundary layer structures, there is a need for routine daily updates of land surface information. Hailstreaks also are important to consider in the future as the focus for observational studies on nonclassical mesoscale circulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)942-960
Number of pages19
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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