EGU22-2499, updated on 10 Apr 2023
EGU General Assembly 2022
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Performance of HAILCAST and lightning potential index coupled with WRF and COSMO in convection-permitting simulations of hailstorms over the Alpine-Adriatic region

Barbara Malečić1, Ruoyi Cui2, Damjan Jelić1, Kristian Horvath3, Maja Telišman Prtenjak1, Nikolina Ban4, Marie-Estelle Demory2, Petra Mikuš Jurković3, Nataša Strelec Mahović5, and Christoph Schär2
Barbara Malečić et al.
  • 1University of Zagreb, Faculty of Science, Department of Geophysics, Croatia (
  • 2Institute for Atmospheric and Climate Science, ETH Zürich, Zürich, Switzerland
  • 3Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service, Zagreb, Croatia
  • 4University of Innsbruck, Department of Atmospheric and Cryospheric Sciences, Inns bruck, Austria
  • 5EUMETSAT, Darmstadt, Germany


Hail is a significant convective weather hazard, often causing considerable crop and property damage across the world. Although extremely damaging, hail still remains a challenging phenomenon to model and forecast given the gaps in understanding the processes involved in hail formation. Recently, a physically-based one-dimensional hail model called HAILCAST was developed. HAILCAST forecasts the maximum expected hail diameter at the ground using a vertical profile of the updraft, temperature, liquid and ice water content and can be embedded within a convection-permitting model (CPM). Furthermore, lightning activity is a characteristic phenomenon that often accompanies severe weather, and especially hailstorms, as well as a damaging phenomenon in itself. One of the ways to diagnose the areas prone to lighting activity is by using a Lightning Potential Index (LPI). LPI is a measure of the potential for charge generation and separation inside a thundercloud, which results in lightning flashes during convective thunderstorms. Therefore, LPI maps the area with the potential for electrical activity based on the model’s dynamical and microphysical fields.


Here, eight hailstorms occurring over the Alpine-Adriatic region are analyzed using Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) and Consortium for Small Scale Modeling in Climate Mode (COSMO) simulations with embedded HAILCAST and LPI at convection-permitting resolution (~2.2 km). In addition, a model intercomparison study is performed to investigate the ability of different modelling systems in reproducing such convective extremes and to further assess the uncertainties associated with simulations of such local-area phenomena. The results are verified by direct hail observations from Croatia (hailpad network), radar estimates of hail from Switzerland (probability of hail, maximum expected severe hail size) and lightning measurements from the LINET network.


The analysis revealed that both HAILCAST and LPI are able to reproduce the observed hail and lightning activity. Namely, both models are able to capture the areas affected by hail and lightning as well as its intensity. Moreover, the fields produced by both models are remarkably similar, although, a slight tendency of WRF to produce smaller hail swaths with larger hailstone diameters and larger LPI values seems to be present. Overall, the analysis revealed promising results and indicates that both HAILCAST and LPI could be valuable tools for real-time forecasting and climatological assessment of hail and lightning occurrence in current and possibly changing climate.

How to cite: Malečić, B., Cui, R., Jelić, D., Horvath, K., Telišman Prtenjak, M., Ban, N., Demory, M.-E., Mikuš Jurković, P., Strelec Mahović, N., and Schär, C.: Performance of HAILCAST and lightning potential index coupled with WRF and COSMO in convection-permitting simulations of hailstorms over the Alpine-Adriatic region, EGU General Assembly 2022, Vienna, Austria, 23–27 May 2022, EGU22-2499,, 2022.


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