Spatial and Temporal Characteristics of Heavy Hourly Rainfall in the United States

Nathan M. Hitchens NOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Harold E. Brooks NOAA/OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Russ S. Schumacher Department of Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado

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Abstract

The climatology of heavy rain events from hourly precipitation observations by Brooks and Stensrud is revisited in this study using two high-resolution precipitation datasets that incorporate both gauge observations and radar estimates. Analyses show a seasonal cycle of heavy rain events originating along the Gulf Coast and expanding across the eastern two-thirds of the United States by the summer, comparing well to previous findings. The frequency of extreme events is estimated, and may provide improvements over prior results due to both the increased spatial resolution of these data and improved techniques used in the estimation. The diurnal cycle of heavy rainfall is also examined, showing distinct differences in the strength of the cycle between seasons.

Current affiliation: Department of Geography, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Nathan M. Hitchens, Dept. of Geography, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. E-mail: nmhitchens@bsu.edu

Abstract

The climatology of heavy rain events from hourly precipitation observations by Brooks and Stensrud is revisited in this study using two high-resolution precipitation datasets that incorporate both gauge observations and radar estimates. Analyses show a seasonal cycle of heavy rain events originating along the Gulf Coast and expanding across the eastern two-thirds of the United States by the summer, comparing well to previous findings. The frequency of extreme events is estimated, and may provide improvements over prior results due to both the increased spatial resolution of these data and improved techniques used in the estimation. The diurnal cycle of heavy rainfall is also examined, showing distinct differences in the strength of the cycle between seasons.

Current affiliation: Department of Geography, Ball State University, Muncie, Indiana.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Nathan M. Hitchens, Dept. of Geography, Ball State University, Muncie, IN 47306. E-mail: nmhitchens@bsu.edu
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