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CR 24:129-139 (2003)  -  doi:10.3354/cr024129

A 15 yr climatology of derecho-producing mesoscale convective systems over the central and eastern United States

Mace L. Bentley*, Jesse A. Sparks

Department of Geography, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois 60115-2896, USA

ABSTRACT: A 15 yr (1986-2000) climatology of derecho-producing mesoscale convective systems (DMCSs) is presented in order to better delineate their spatial and temporal patterns. Several significant results emerged from the analysis, including the development of the NW flow corridor as the dominant derecho activity region in the climatology. Results suggest that, as the sample size of DMCSs increases (230 events), the prominent derecho activity corridors across the eastern US become located in the northern Plains through the Ohio Valley, with a secondary maximum in the southern Plains. Evidence further suggests that climatological factors strongly control the distribution of derechos. For example, an anomalously strong 500 hPa height gradient existed coincident with the northern US derecho activity corridor. Another aspect of derecho development is related to the temporal distribution. Evidence suggests that derecho systems tend to occur in groups or Œfamilies¹, several events occurring within several days. The synoptic environment also appears to be responsible for activating these corridors and providing an environment conducive to DMCS grouping.

KEY WORDS: Derecho · Climatology · Mesoscale convective systems

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