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A Comparison of NEXRAD WSR-88D Radar Estimates of Rain Accumulation with Gauge Measurements for High- and Low-Reflectivity Horizontal Gradient Precipitation Events

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  • 1 Environmental Research Division, Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, Illinois
  • | 2 Oklahoma Climatological Survey, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 3 National Weather Service, Melbourne, Florida
  • | 4 National Weather Service, Honolulu, Hawaii
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Abstract

Radar-estimated rainfall amounts from the NEXRAD Weather Surveillance Radar precipitation accumulation algorithm were compared with measurements from numerous rain gauges (1639 radar versus gauge comparisons). Storm total rain accumulations from 43 rain events from 10 radar sites were analyzed. These rain events were stratified into two precipitation types: 1) high-reflectivity horizontal gradient storms and 2) low-reflectivity horizontal gradient events. Overall, the radar slightly overestimated rainfall accumulations for high-reflectivity gradient cases and significantly underestimated accumulations for low-reflectivity gradient cases. Varying degrees of range effects were observed for these two types of precipitation. For high-reflectivity gradient cases, the radar underestimated rainfall at the nearest ranges, overestimated at the middle ranges, and had fairly close agreements at the farthest ranges. A much stronger range bias was evident for low-reflectivity gradient cases. The radar underestimated rainfall by at least a factor of 2 in the nearest and farthest ranges, and to a somewhat lesser extent at midranges.

Corresponding author address: Gerard Klazura, ABLE Project Office, 13645 SW Haverhill Rd., Augusta, KS 67010.

Email: jklazura@anl.gov

Abstract

Radar-estimated rainfall amounts from the NEXRAD Weather Surveillance Radar precipitation accumulation algorithm were compared with measurements from numerous rain gauges (1639 radar versus gauge comparisons). Storm total rain accumulations from 43 rain events from 10 radar sites were analyzed. These rain events were stratified into two precipitation types: 1) high-reflectivity horizontal gradient storms and 2) low-reflectivity horizontal gradient events. Overall, the radar slightly overestimated rainfall accumulations for high-reflectivity gradient cases and significantly underestimated accumulations for low-reflectivity gradient cases. Varying degrees of range effects were observed for these two types of precipitation. For high-reflectivity gradient cases, the radar underestimated rainfall at the nearest ranges, overestimated at the middle ranges, and had fairly close agreements at the farthest ranges. A much stronger range bias was evident for low-reflectivity gradient cases. The radar underestimated rainfall by at least a factor of 2 in the nearest and farthest ranges, and to a somewhat lesser extent at midranges.

Corresponding author address: Gerard Klazura, ABLE Project Office, 13645 SW Haverhill Rd., Augusta, KS 67010.

Email: jklazura@anl.gov

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