Modelling serial clustering and inter-annual variability of European winter windstorms based on large-scale drivers

Michael A. Walz, Daniel J. Befort, Nicolas Otto Kirchner-Bossi, Uwe Ulbrich, Gregor C. Leckebusch*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
157 Downloads (Pure)


Winter windstorms are known to be among the most dangerous and loss intensive natural hazards in Europe. In order to gain a better understanding of their variability and driving mechanisms, this study analyses the temporal variability which is often referred to as serial or seasonal clustering. This is realized by developing a statistical model relating the winter storm counts to known teleconnection patterns affecting European weather and climate conditions (e.g., North Atlantic Oscillation [NAO], Scandinavian pattern [SCA], etc.). The statistical model is developed via a stepwise Poisson regression approach that is applied to windstorm counts and large-scale indices retrieved from the ERA-20C reanalysis. Significant large-scale drivers accountable for the inter-annual variability of storms for several European regions are identified and compared. In addition to the SCA and the NAO which are found to be the essential drivers for most areas within the European domain, other teleconnections (e.g., East Atlantic pattern) are found to be more significant for the inter-annual variability in certain regions. Furthermore, the statistical model allows an estimation of the expected number of storms per winter season and also whether a season has the characteristic of being what we define an active or inactive season. The statistical model reveals high skill particularly over British Isles and central Europe; however, even for regions with less frequent storm events (e.g., southern and eastern Europe) the model shows adequate positive skill. This feature could be of specific interest for the actuarial sector.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3044-3057
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Climatology
Issue number7
Early online date23 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2018


  • extratropical cyclones
  • large-scale drivers
  • North Atlantic Oscillation
  • Poisson model
  • Scandinavian pattern
  • serial clustering
  • statistical modelling
  • windstorms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science


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