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Who Received the Most Rain Today?: An Analysis of Daily Precipitation Extremes in the Contiguous United States Using CoCoRaHS and COOP Reports

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  • 1 Colorado Climate Center, and Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 2 NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Information, Asheville, North Carolina
  • | 3 Colorado Climate Center, and Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 4 SLR International Corporation, Fort Collins, Colorado
  • | 5 lorado Climate Center, and Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
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Abstract

Every day, thousands of volunteers across the United States report the amount of precipitation they have received in the past 24 hours. This study focuses on the largest of these volunteer-submitted reports for each day, using precipitation measurements from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) from January 2010 to December 2017 as well as observations from the U.S. Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) network from January 1981 through December 2017. Results provide clarity on spatial variability, temporal variability, and seasonal cycle of contiguous U.S daily precipitation extremes (DPEs). During 2010–17, the DPEs ranged from 11 mm on 28 March 2013 in Oregon to 635 mm on 27 August 2017 in Texas during Hurricane Harvey. Coastal states are most prone to high daily precipitation totals, especially those bordering the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Gulf Stream. The average DPE value varies with season; it is greater than 175 mm in late August and less than 100 mm through meteorological winter. These observations also show that location of the DPE varies with season as well. For example, 28.5% of February extremes fall in Pacific states, whereas all August extremes occur east of that region. Perhaps most importantly, these findings demonstrate strength in numbers. The large daily sample size of CoCoRaHS and COOP networks forms a basis for monitoring, mapping, and categorizing DPEs, and other aspects of extreme precipitation, with considerable spatial detail.

Supplemental material: https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0310.2

© 2020 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: Peter E. Goble, peter.goble@colostate.edu

Abstract

Every day, thousands of volunteers across the United States report the amount of precipitation they have received in the past 24 hours. This study focuses on the largest of these volunteer-submitted reports for each day, using precipitation measurements from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow Network (CoCoRaHS) from January 2010 to December 2017 as well as observations from the U.S. Cooperative Observer Program (COOP) network from January 1981 through December 2017. Results provide clarity on spatial variability, temporal variability, and seasonal cycle of contiguous U.S daily precipitation extremes (DPEs). During 2010–17, the DPEs ranged from 11 mm on 28 March 2013 in Oregon to 635 mm on 27 August 2017 in Texas during Hurricane Harvey. Coastal states are most prone to high daily precipitation totals, especially those bordering the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Gulf Stream. The average DPE value varies with season; it is greater than 175 mm in late August and less than 100 mm through meteorological winter. These observations also show that location of the DPE varies with season as well. For example, 28.5% of February extremes fall in Pacific states, whereas all August extremes occur east of that region. Perhaps most importantly, these findings demonstrate strength in numbers. The large daily sample size of CoCoRaHS and COOP networks forms a basis for monitoring, mapping, and categorizing DPEs, and other aspects of extreme precipitation, with considerable spatial detail.

Supplemental material: https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0310.2

© 2020 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: Peter E. Goble, peter.goble@colostate.edu

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