Articles | Volume 12, issue 6
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 1969–1981, 2012
Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 12, 1969–1981, 2012

Research article 25 Jun 2012

Research article | 25 Jun 2012

Severe wind gust thresholds for Meteoalarm derived from uniform return periods in ECA&D

A. Stepek, I. L. Wijnant, G. van der Schrier, E. J. M. van den Besselaar, and A. M. G. Klein Tank A. Stepek et al.
  • Climate Services Dept, KNMI, P.O. Box 201, 3730 AE De Bilt, The Netherlands

Abstract. In this study we present an alternative wind gust warning guideline for Meteoalarm, the severe weather warning website for Europe. There are unrealistically large differences in levels and issuing frequencies of all warning levels currently in use between neighbouring Meteoalarm countries. This study provides a guide for the Meteoalarm community to review their wind gust warning thresholds. A more uniform warning system is achieved by using one pan-European return period per warning level. The associated return values will be different throughout Europe because they depend on local climate conditions, but they will not change abruptly at country borders as is currently the case for the thresholds. As return values are a measure of the possible danger of an event and its impact on society, they form an ideal basis for a warning system. Validated wind gust measurements from the European Climate Assessment and Dataset (ECA&D, were used to calculate return values of the annual maximum wind gust. The current thresholds are compared with return values for 3 different return periods: 10 times a year return periods for yellow warnings, 2 yr periods for orange and 5 yr periods for red warnings. So far 10 countries provide wind gust data to ECA&D. Due to the ECA&D completeness requirements and the fact that some countries provided too few stations to be representative for that country, medians of the return values of annual maximum wind gust could be calculated for 6 of the 10 countries. Alternative guideline thresholds are presented for Norway, Ireland, The Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic and Spain and the need to distinguish between coastal, inland and mountainous regions is demonstrated. The new thresholds based on uniform return periods differ significantly from the current ones, particularly for coastal and mountainous areas.

We are aware of other, sometimes binding factors (e.g. laws) that prevent participating counties from implementing this climatology based warning system.