A climatology of convective and non-convective high-wind events across the eastern United States during 1973–2015

Victoria A. Murley, Western Kentucky University
Joshua D. Durkee, Western Kentucky University
Joshua M. Gilliland, Kennesaw State University
Alan W. Black, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville


This study investigates convective and non-convective high-wind events (CWEs and NCWEs) across the eastern U.S. during a 43-year climatological period (1973–2015) for spatial and temporal variations in wind speed and direction. Hourly surface wind observations were gathered from the National Centers for Environmental Information Data Center Integrated Surface Database (NCEI-ISD). This dataset includes quality-controlled wind observations from 391 first-order weather stations in the eastern U.S. Findings show that high-wind events (HWEs) meeting established National Weather Service criteria were most concentrated in the West North Central and South regions (High Plains) and fewer CWEs occurred during the study period compared to NCWEs. Gust CWEs increased significantly (1.95 days year−1) while sustained NCWEs decreased significantly (−0.58 days year−1). Mean wind directions were observed primarily in the southwest and northwest quadrants. Mean wind speed decreased at a statistically significant level for sustained CWEs, gust CWEs, and sustained NCWEs. Developing an extensive climatological understanding of convective and non-convective high-wind events is beneficial to mitigate damage and fatalities caused by these events.