Synoptic Typing of Multiduration, Heavy Precipitation Records in the Northeastern United States: 1895–2017

Caitlin C. Crossett aDepartment of Geoscience, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Geneva, New York

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Lesley-Ann L. Dupigny-Giroux bDepartment of Geography and Geosciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont

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Kenneth E. Kunkel cNorth Carolina Institute for Climate Studies, North Carolina State University, Asheville, North Carolina

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Alan K. Betts dAtmospheric Research, Pittsford, Vermont

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Arne Bomblies eDepartment of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont

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Abstract

Much of the previous research on total and heavy precipitation trends across the northeastern United States (herein, the Northeast) used daily precipitation totals over relatively short periods of record, which do not capture the full range of climate variability and change. Less well understood are the characteristics of long-term changes and synoptic patterns in longer-duration heavy precipitation events across the Northeast. A multiduration (1, 2, 3, 7, 14, and 30 days), multi-return-interval (2, 5, 10, and 50 years) precipitation dataset was used to diagnose changes in various types of precipitation events across the Northeast from 1895 to 2017. Increasing trends were found in all duration and return-interval event combinations with the rarest, longest duration events increasing at faster rates than more-frequent, shorter-duration ones. Daily 850-hPa geopotential height patterns associated with precipitation events were extracted from rotated principal component analysis and k-means clustering analysis, which allowed for the main synoptic types present as well as their structure and evolution to be analyzed. The daily synoptic patterns thus identified were found to be similar across all durations and return intervals and included coastal low (Northeasters, tropical cyclones, and predecessor rain events), deep trough, East Coast trough, zonal, and high pressure patterns.

© 2023 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: Caitlin Crossett, crossett@hws.edu

Abstract

Much of the previous research on total and heavy precipitation trends across the northeastern United States (herein, the Northeast) used daily precipitation totals over relatively short periods of record, which do not capture the full range of climate variability and change. Less well understood are the characteristics of long-term changes and synoptic patterns in longer-duration heavy precipitation events across the Northeast. A multiduration (1, 2, 3, 7, 14, and 30 days), multi-return-interval (2, 5, 10, and 50 years) precipitation dataset was used to diagnose changes in various types of precipitation events across the Northeast from 1895 to 2017. Increasing trends were found in all duration and return-interval event combinations with the rarest, longest duration events increasing at faster rates than more-frequent, shorter-duration ones. Daily 850-hPa geopotential height patterns associated with precipitation events were extracted from rotated principal component analysis and k-means clustering analysis, which allowed for the main synoptic types present as well as their structure and evolution to be analyzed. The daily synoptic patterns thus identified were found to be similar across all durations and return intervals and included coastal low (Northeasters, tropical cyclones, and predecessor rain events), deep trough, East Coast trough, zonal, and high pressure patterns.

© 2023 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: Caitlin Crossett, crossett@hws.edu
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