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Precipitation Contribution of Tropical Cyclones in the Southeastern United States from 1998 to 2009 Using TRMM Satellite Data

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  • 1 Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites, North Carolina State University, and NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina
  • 2 Remote Sensing Applications Division, NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina
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Abstract

The objective of this paper is to characterize the precipitation amounts originating from tropical cyclones (TCs) in the southeastern United States during the tropical storm season from June to November. Using 12 years of precipitation data from the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM), the authors estimate the TC contribution on the seasonal, interannual, and monthly precipitation budget using TC information derived from the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS). Results derived from the TRMM Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) 3B42 showed that TCs accounted for about 7% of the seasonal precipitation total from 1998 to 2009. Rainfall attributable to TCs was found to contribute as much as 8%–12% for inland areas located between 150 and 300 km from the coast and up to 15%–20% for coastal areas from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, southern Florida, and coastal Carolinas. The interannual contribution varied from 1.3% to 13.8% for the period 1998–2009 and depended on the TC seasonal activity, TC intensity, and TC paths as they traveled inland. For TCs making landfall, the rainfall contribution could be locally above 40% and, on a monthly basis, TCs contributed as much as 20% of September rainfall. The probability density functions of rainfall attributable to tropical cyclones showed that the percentage of rainfall associated with TC over land increased with increasing rain intensity and represent about 20% of heavy rainfall (>20 mm h−1), while TCs account for less than 5% of all seasonal precipitation events.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Olivier P. Prat, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-NC (CICS-NC), North Carolina State University, and NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28801. E-mail: olivier.prat@noaa.gov

Abstract

The objective of this paper is to characterize the precipitation amounts originating from tropical cyclones (TCs) in the southeastern United States during the tropical storm season from June to November. Using 12 years of precipitation data from the Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM), the authors estimate the TC contribution on the seasonal, interannual, and monthly precipitation budget using TC information derived from the International Best Track Archive for Climate Stewardship (IBTrACS). Results derived from the TRMM Multisatellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA) 3B42 showed that TCs accounted for about 7% of the seasonal precipitation total from 1998 to 2009. Rainfall attributable to TCs was found to contribute as much as 8%–12% for inland areas located between 150 and 300 km from the coast and up to 15%–20% for coastal areas from Louisiana to the Florida Panhandle, southern Florida, and coastal Carolinas. The interannual contribution varied from 1.3% to 13.8% for the period 1998–2009 and depended on the TC seasonal activity, TC intensity, and TC paths as they traveled inland. For TCs making landfall, the rainfall contribution could be locally above 40% and, on a monthly basis, TCs contributed as much as 20% of September rainfall. The probability density functions of rainfall attributable to tropical cyclones showed that the percentage of rainfall associated with TC over land increased with increasing rain intensity and represent about 20% of heavy rainfall (>20 mm h−1), while TCs account for less than 5% of all seasonal precipitation events.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Olivier P. Prat, Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-NC (CICS-NC), North Carolina State University, and NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, 151 Patton Ave., Asheville, NC 28801. E-mail: olivier.prat@noaa.gov
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