National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


Thunderstorm Climatology For The Wichita, KS Forecast Area

Mary-Beth Schreck

National Weather Service, Wichita KS

1.0 Introduction

Thunderstorms have long been drastically over-forecast in Terminal Aerodome Forecasts (TAFs), causing many false alarm hours and needless fuel costs for pilots. To improve forecasts, it is imperative to develop an understanding of the climatological averages and trends in thunderstorms affecting the TAF sites. This document attempts to facilitate that understanding by assessing the hourly observational data for Russell, Salina, Wichita, and Chanute Kansas.

2.0 Methodology

Thirty years worth of hourly surface observations were gathered from the National Climatic Data Center for the four TAF sites listed above. Only observations where thunder was observed were considered. Hourly thunderstorm observations were then tallied from the database, and graphed for each site by hour for each month.

3.0 Results and Discussion

See this link for a webpage with all monthly graphs for each site.

A couple of key trends are evident from these graphs. At Chanute, there are 2 peaks during the 24-hour period for thunderstorm activity, especially from June through September. One peak is between 8Z and 14Z, and the other is between 19Z and 3Z. This contrasts with the other three sites, where there is one main peak from 0Z to 12Z. Along with these peaks, distinct minimums are seen at each site during the late morning and early afternoon hours. These climate statistics should help to reduce false alarm hours in the TAFs and improve the Probability of Detection (POD).

4.0 References

(National Climatic Data Center Observation Database)