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Spatiotemporal Analysis of Extreme Precipitation in the Missouri River Basin from 1950 to 2019

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  • 1 a U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service, El Reno, Oklahoma
  • | 2 b High Plains Regional Climate Center, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska
  • | 3 c School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska
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Abstract

Extreme precipitation events are challenging to local and regional stakeholders across the United States. The Missouri River basin (MoRB), covering an area over 1.29 million km2, is prone to extreme precipitation events. These events are exacerbated by the complex terrain in the west and the numerous weather and climate features that impact the region on a seasonal and annual basis (low-level jets, mesoscale convective systems, extreme cold air intrusions, etc.). Without an in-depth analysis of extreme precipitation in the MoRB, the evolving nature of extreme precipitation is not known. This situation warrants an analysis of extreme precipitation, especially relating to subannual variations when extreme precipitation is more impactful. To this end, data from 131 U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) stations were used to determine the nature of extreme precipitation from 1950 to 2019. Annual 99th-percentile events and annual station maximum precipitation events occur more frequently in the eastern MoRB than in the western MoRB, in line with the annual precipitation climatology. Results show that 99th-percentile events and annual station maximum precipitation events are becoming more frequent across the MoRB. Through analysis of 3-month extreme precipitation trends, areas in the eastern and southern MoRB are shown to have an increase in event frequency and intensity. Frequency shifts in the 99th-percentile events, however, have occurred across the entire region. The increasing frequency of extreme events in the western MoRB represents a significant change for the hydroclimate of the region. Overall, the results from this work show that MORB extreme precipitation has increased in frequency and intensity during the 1950–2019 period.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Paul Flanagan, paul.flanagan2@usda.gov

Abstract

Extreme precipitation events are challenging to local and regional stakeholders across the United States. The Missouri River basin (MoRB), covering an area over 1.29 million km2, is prone to extreme precipitation events. These events are exacerbated by the complex terrain in the west and the numerous weather and climate features that impact the region on a seasonal and annual basis (low-level jets, mesoscale convective systems, extreme cold air intrusions, etc.). Without an in-depth analysis of extreme precipitation in the MoRB, the evolving nature of extreme precipitation is not known. This situation warrants an analysis of extreme precipitation, especially relating to subannual variations when extreme precipitation is more impactful. To this end, data from 131 U.S. Historical Climatology Network (USHCN) stations were used to determine the nature of extreme precipitation from 1950 to 2019. Annual 99th-percentile events and annual station maximum precipitation events occur more frequently in the eastern MoRB than in the western MoRB, in line with the annual precipitation climatology. Results show that 99th-percentile events and annual station maximum precipitation events are becoming more frequent across the MoRB. Through analysis of 3-month extreme precipitation trends, areas in the eastern and southern MoRB are shown to have an increase in event frequency and intensity. Frequency shifts in the 99th-percentile events, however, have occurred across the entire region. The increasing frequency of extreme events in the western MoRB represents a significant change for the hydroclimate of the region. Overall, the results from this work show that MORB extreme precipitation has increased in frequency and intensity during the 1950–2019 period.

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Corresponding author: Paul Flanagan, paul.flanagan2@usda.gov
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