Date of Award


Degree Name

Master of Science



First Advisor

Dr. Lei Meng

Second Advisor

Dr. Laiyin Zhu

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Baker


Thunderstorms, back-building, soil moisture, Northern Plains, Great Plains

Access Setting

Masters Thesis-Open Access


Severe thunderstorm behavior across the Great Plains of North America can result in negative economic impact, put infrastructure at risk, and pose a hazard to the lives of those calling the area home. Substantial research has been conducted throughout the Great Plains on a variety of severe weather conditions such as extreme wind, hail, tornadoes, and flash flooding, however such research is limited in the northern portion of the Great Plains. Some research has been conducted on these severe phenomena produced by thunderstorms in the northern Great Plains; however, little has been done in the realm of training/back-building of storms. This behavior has the potential to cause extreme flash flooding.

The multi-parameter interactions of local precipitation recycling feeding into thunderstorm development is still an open research question. From an observational standpoint this study identifies potential back-building behavior in NEXRAD radar imagery, relating that to high resolution Land Information System surface soil moisture data orientated to the background flow of the planetary boundary layer. Several weak correlations between soil moisture and NEXRAD reflectivity were observed, however these were not independent of the potential influence of the Great Plains Low Level Jet. Points of convective initiation were examined spatially, finding regions which warrant further analysis as a hotspot for back-building behavior.

Included in

Geography Commons