Relationships between 10 Years of Radar-Observed Supercell Characteristics and Hail Potential

Cameron R. Homeyer, Elisa M. Murillo, Matthew R. Kumjian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Supercell storms are commonly responsible for severe hail, which is the costliest severe storm hazard in the United States and elsewhere. Radar observations of such storms are common and have been leveraged to estimate hail size and severe hail occurrence. However, many established relationships between radar-observed storm characteristics and severe hail occurrence have been found using data from few storms and in isolation from other radar metrics. This study leverages a 10-yr record of polarimetric Doppler radar observations in the United States to evaluate and compare radar observations of thousands of severe hail–producing supercells based on their maximum hail size. In agreement with prior studies, it is found that increasing hail size relates to increasing volume of high ($50 dBZ) radar reflectivity, increasing midaltitude mesocyclone rotation (azimuthal shear), increasing storm-top divergence, and decreased differential reflectivity and copolar correlation coefficient at low levels (mostly below the environmental 08C level). New insights include increasing vertical alignment of the storm mesocyclone with increasing hail size and a Doppler velocity spectrum width minimum aloft near storm center that increases in area with increasing hail size and is argued to indicate increasing updraft width. To complement the extensive radar analysis, near-storm environments from reanalyses are compared and indicate that the greatest environmental differences exist in the middle troposphere (within the hail growth region), especially the wind speed perpendicular to storm motion. Recommendations are given for future improvements to radar-based hail-size estimation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2609-2632
Number of pages24
JournalMonthly Weather Review
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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