The identification of some radar reflectivity signatures plays a vital role in severe thunderstorm nowcasting. A weak echo region is one of the signatures that could indicate updraft, which is a fundamental condition for hail production. However, this signature is underutilized in automatic forecasting systems due to the lack of a reliable detection method and the uncertain relationships between different weak echo regions and hail-producing thunderstorms. In this paper, three algorithms related to weak echo regions are proposed. The first is a quasi-real-time weak echo region morphology identification algorithm using the radar echo bottom height image. The second is an automatic vertical cross-section-making algorithm. It provides a convenient tool for automatically determining the location of a vertical cross-section that exhibits a visible weak echo region to help forecasters assess the vertical structures of thunderstorms with less time consumption. The last is a weak echo region quantification algorithm mainly used for hail nowcasting. It could generate a parameter describing the scale of a weak echo region to distinguish hail and no-hail thunderstorms. Evaluation with real data of the Tianjin radar indicates that the critical success index of the weak echo region identification algorithm is 0.61. Statistics on these data also show that when the weak echo region parameters generated by the quantification algorithm are in a particular range, more than 85% of the convective cells produced hail.
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