Search Results

You are looking at 1 - 10 of 32 items for :

  • Author or Editor: J. J. Gourley x
  • Journal of Hydrometeorology x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All Modify Search
Jonathan J. Gourley
and
Humberto Vergara

Abstract

New operational tools for monitoring flash flooding based on radar quantitative precipitation estimates (QPEs) have become available to U.S. National Weather Service forecasters. Herman and Schumacher examined QPE exceedance thresholds for several tools and compared them to each other, to flash flood reports (FFRs), and to flash flood warnings. The Next Generation Radar network has been updated with dual-polarization capabilities since the publication of Herman and Schumacher, which has changed the characteristics of the derived QPEs. Updated thresholds on Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor version 12 products that are associated to FFRs are provided and thus can be used as guidance by the operational forecasting community and other end-users of the products.

Full access
Humberto Vergara
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
, and
Michael Erickson

Abstract

Uncertainty in Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts (QPFs) from Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models manifests in errors in the amounts of rainfall, storm structure, storm location, and timing, among other precipitation characteristics. In flash flood forecasting applications, errors in the QPFs can translate into significant uncertainty in forecasts of surface water flows and their impacts. In particular, the QPF errors in location and structure result in errors on flow paths, which can be highly detrimental in identifying locations susceptible to flash flood impacts. To account for this type of uncertainty, the Neighboring Pixel Ensemble Technique (NPET) was devised and implemented as a post-processing algorithm of deterministic or ensemble outputs from a distributed hydrologic model. The aim of the technique is to address displaced hydrologic responses resulting from location biases in QPFs using a probabilistic approach. NPET identifies a sampling region surrounding each forecast pixel and builds an ensemble of surface water flow values considering the pixels’ physiographic similarities. The probabilistic information produced with NPET can be calibrated through a set of tunable parameters that are adjusted to account for NWP-specific QPF error characteristics. The utility of NPET is demonstrated for the Ellicott City flash flood event on 27 May 2018, using products and tools routinely used in the United States National Weather Service for warning operations. Results from this case demonstrate that NPET effectively conveys uncertainty information about QPF precipitation location in a hydrologic context.

Restricted access
Jonathan J. Gourley
and
Baxter E. Vieux

Abstract

A major goal in quantitative precipitation estimation and forecasting is the ability to provide accurate initial conditions for the purposes of hydrologic modeling. The accuracy of a streamflow prediction system is dependent upon how well the initial hydrometeorological states are characterized. A methodology is developed to objectively and quantitatively evaluate the skill of several different precipitation algorithms at the scale of application—a watershed. Thousands of hydrologic simulations are performed in an ensemble fashion, enabling an exploration of the model parameter space. Probabilistic statistics are then utilized to compare the relative skill of hydrologic simulations produced from the different precipitation inputs to the observed streamflow. The primary focus of this study is to demonstrate a methodology to evaluate precipitation algorithms that can be used to supplement traditional radar–rain gauge analyses. This approach is appropriate for the evaluation of precipitation estimates or forecasts that are intended to serve as inputs to hydrologic models.

Full access
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
,
Y. Hong
,
J. J. Gourley
,
M. Schwaller
,
W. Petersen
, and
J. Zhang

Abstract

Characterization of the error associated with satellite rainfall estimates is a necessary component of deterministic and probabilistic frameworks involving spaceborne passive and active microwave measurements for applications ranging from water budget studies to forecasting natural hazards related to extreme rainfall events. The authors focus here on the relative error structure of Tropical Rainfall Measurement Mission (TRMM) precipitation radar (PR) quantitative precipitation estimation (QPE) at the ground by comparison of 2A25 products with reference values derived from NOAA/NSSL’s ground radar–based National Mosaic and QPE system (NMQ/Q2). The primary contribution of this study is to compare the new 2A25, version 7 (V7), products that were recently released as a replacement of version 6 (V6). Moreover, the authors supply uncertainty estimates of the rainfall products so that they may be used in a quantitative manner for applications like hydrologic modeling. This new version is considered superior over land areas and will likely be the final version for TRMM PR rainfall estimates. Several aspects of the two versions are compared and quantified, including rainfall rate distributions, systematic biases, and random errors. All analyses indicate that V7 is in closer agreement with the reference rainfall compared to V6.

Full access
Yagmur Derin
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
, and
Jonathan J. Gourley

Abstract

As a fundamental water flux, quantitative understanding of precipitation is important to understand and manage water systems under a changing climate, especially in transition regions such as the coastal interface between land and ocean. This work aims to assess the uncertainty in precipitation detection over the land–coast–ocean continuum in the Integrated Multisatellite Retrievals for Global Precipitation Measurement (IMERG) V06B product. It is examined over three coastal regions of the United States—the West Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, and the East Coast, all of which are characterized by different topographies and precipitation climatologies. Detection capabilities are contrasted over different surfaces (land, coast, and ocean). A novel and integrated approach traces the IMERG detection performance back to its components (passive microwave, infrared, and morphing-based estimates). The analysis is performed by using high-resolution, high-quality Ground Validation Multi-Radar/Multi-Sensor (GV-MRMS) rainfall estimates as ground reference. The best detection performances are reported with PMW estimates (hit rates in the range [25%–39%]), followed by morphing ([20%–34%]), morphing+IR ([17%–27%]) and IR ([11%–16%]) estimates. Precipitation formation mechanisms play an important role, especially in the West Coast where orographic processes challenge detection. Further, precipitation typology is shown to be a strong driver of IMERG detection. Over the ocean, IMERG detection is generally better but suffers from false alarms ([10%–53%]). Overall, IMERG displays nonhomogeneous precipitation detection capabilities tracing back to its components. Results point toward a similar behavior across various land–coast–ocean continuum regions of the CONUS, which suggests that results can be potentially transferred to other coastal regions of the world.

Full access
Heather M. Grams
,
Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter
, and
Jonathan J. Gourley

Abstract

Satellite-based precipitation estimates are a vital resource for hydrologic applications in data-sparse regions of the world, particularly at daily or longer time scales. With the launch of a new generation of high-resolution imagers on geostationary platforms such as the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite series R (GOES-R), an opportunity exists to advance the detection and estimation of flash-flood-scale precipitation events from space beyond what is currently available. Because visible and infrared sensors can only observe cloud-top properties, many visible- and infrared-band-based rainfall algorithms attempt to first classify clouds before deriving a rain rate. This study uses a 2-yr database of cloud-top properties from proxy Advanced Baseline Imager radiances from GOES-R matched to surface precipitation types from the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system to develop a naïve Bayesian precipitation type classifier for the four major types of precipitation in MRMS: stratiform, convective, tropical, and hail. Evaluation of the naïve Bayesian precipitation type product showed a bias toward classifying convective and stratiform at the expense of tropical and hail. The tropical and hail classes in MRMS are derived based on the vertical structure and magnitude of radar reflectivity, which may not translate to an obvious signal at cloud top for a satellite-based algorithm. However, the satellite-based product correctly classified the hail areas as being convective in nature for the vast majority of missed hail events.

Full access
Jessica M. Erlingis
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
, and
Jeffrey B. Basara

Abstract

This study uses backward trajectories derived from North American Regional Reanalysis data for 19 253 flash flood reports during the period 2007–13 published by the National Weather Service to assess the origins of air parcels for flash floods in the conterminous United States. The preferred flow paths for parcels were evaluated seasonally and for six regions of interest: the West Coast, Arizona, the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, Flash Flood Alley in south-central Texas, the Missouri Valley, and the Appalachians. Parcels were released from vertical columns in the atmosphere at times and locations where there were reported flash floods; these were traced backward in time for 5 days. The temporal and seasonal cycles of flood events in these regions are also explored. The results show the importance of trajectories residing for long periods over oceanic regions such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. The flow is generally unidirectional with height in the lower layers of the atmosphere. The trajectory paths from oceanic genesis regions to inland hotspots and their orientation with height provide clues that can assist in the diagnosis of impending flash floods. Part II of this manuscript details the land–atmosphere interactions along the trajectory paths.

Full access
Jessica M. Erlingis
,
Jonathan J. Gourley
, and
Jeffrey B. Basara

Abstract

Backward trajectories were derived from North American Regional Reanalysis data for 19 253 flash flood reports published by the National Weather Service to determine the along-path contribution of the land surface to the moisture budget for flash flood events in the conterminous United States. The impact of land surface interactions was evaluated seasonally and for six regions: the West Coast, Arizona, the Front Range, Flash Flood Alley, the Missouri Valley, and the Appalachians. Parcels were released from locations that were impacted by flash floods and traced backward in time for 120 h. The boundary layer height was used to determine whether moisture increases occurred within the boundary layer or above it. Moisture increases occurring within the boundary layer were attributed to evapotranspiration from the land surface, and surface properties were recorded from an offline run of the Noah land surface model. In general, moisture increases attributed to the land surface were associated with anomalously high surface latent heat fluxes and anomalously low sensible heat fluxes (resulting in a positive anomaly of evaporative fraction) as well as positive anomalies in top-layer soil moisture. Over the ocean, uptakes were associated with positive anomalies in sea surface temperatures, the magnitude of which varies both regionally and seasonally. Major oceanic surface-based source regions of moisture for flash floods in the United States include the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of California, while boundary layer moisture increases in the southern plains are attributable in part to interactions between the land surface and the atmosphere.

Full access
Yixin Wen
,
Pierre Kirstetter
,
J. J. Gourley
,
Yang Hong
,
Ali Behrangi
, and
Zachary Flamig

Abstract

Snow is important to water resources and is of critical importance to society. Ground-weather-radar-based snowfall observations have been highly desirable for large-scale weather monitoring and water resources applications. This study conducts an evaluation of the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) quantitative estimates of snow rate using the Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) daily snow water equivalent (SWE) datasets. A detectability evaluation shows that MRMS is limited in detecting very light snow (daily snow accumulation <5 mm) because of the quality control module in MRMS filtering out weak signals (<5 dBZ). For daily snow accumulation greater than 10 mm, MRMS has good detectability. The quantitative comparisons reveal a bias of −77.37% between MRMS and SNOTEL. A majority of the underestimation bias occurs in relatively warm conditions with surface temperatures ranging from −10° to 0°C. A constant reflectivity–SWE intensity relationship does not capture the snow mass flux increase associated with denser snow particles at these relatively warm temperatures. There is no clear dependence of the bias on radar beam height. The findings in this study indicate that further improvement in radar snowfall products might occur by deriving appropriate reflectivity–SWE relationships considering the degree of riming and snowflake size.

Full access
Leonardo Porcacchia
,
P. E. Kirstetter
,
J. J. Gourley
,
V. Maggioni
,
B. L. Cheong
, and
M. N. Anagnostou

Abstract

Accurate quantitative precipitation estimation over mountainous basins is of great importance because of their susceptibility to natural hazards. It is generally difficult to obtain reliable precipitation information over complex areas because of the scarce coverage of ground observations, the limited coverage from operational radar networks, and the high elevation of the study sites. Warm-rain processes have been observed in several flash flood events in complex terrain regions. While they lead to high rainfall rates from precipitation growth due to collision–coalescence of droplets in the cloud liquid layer, their characteristics are often difficult to identify. X-band mobile dual-polarization radars located in complex terrain areas provide fundamental information at high-resolution and at low atmospheric levels. This study analyzes a dataset collected in North Carolina during the 2014 Integrated Precipitation and Hydrology Experiment (IPHEx) field campaign over a mountainous basin where the NOAA/National Severe Storm Laboratory’s X-band polarimetric radar (NOXP) was deployed. Polarimetric variables are used to isolate collision–coalescence microphysical processes. This work lays the basis for classification algorithms able to identify coalescence-dominant precipitation by merging the information coming from polarimetric radar measurements. The sensitivity of the proposed classification scheme is tested with different rainfall-rate retrieval algorithms and compared to rain gauge observations. Results show the inadequacy of rainfall estimates when coalescence identification is not taken into account. This work highlights the necessity of a correct classification of collision–coalescence processes, which can lead to improvements in quantitative precipitation estimation. Future studies will aim at generalizing this scheme by making use of spaceborne radar data.

Full access