Precipitation Changes in Fall, Winter, and Spring Caused by St. Louis

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  • 1 Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, Illinois
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Abstract

Analysis of precipitation events in the St. Louis aera, based on pre-event low-level wind flow, was pursued to ascertain the presence of urban effects on fall, winter, and spring precipitation. Data from a circular, dense, raingage network were used to define quadrant (NW, NE, SE, SW) average precipitation. Winds before each event (443 events in 1971–75) were used to define the urban plume and identify which quadrant was “downwind” of the city. Results for fall revealed a 17% increase in precipitation downwind of St. Louis and a 13% increase in events with their peak rainfall occurring downwind, both outcomes were statistically significant at the 1% level. The downwind enhancement was greatest when pre-event winds were from the SE, and when average precipitation in the quadrant with the maximum value was either light (<5.1 mm) or quite heavy (>17.9 mm). The fall results agree well with earlier findings for summer rainfall that revealed a 25% increase due to enhancement in isolated airmass showers and during heavier, well-organized convective system Winter precipitation indicated little precipitation change downwind of St. Louis. However, when SW pre-event winds existed (a flow often associated with conviction), there was a statistically significant downwind increase in winter precipitation; but when pre-event winds were from SE or NW (flows frequently associated with stratiform precipitation), downwind decreases occurred. The number of spring precipitation conditions that maximized downwind of St. Louis was significantly greater than expected by chance particularly in light (<5.1 mm) events, but the total spring rainfall downwind increased only 4%. There was no suggestion of decreased precipitation in spring or fall. The urban influences to enhance precipitation appeared to be related to precipitation conditions with convective processes, and urban influences in more stratiform precipitation situations were negligible.

Abstract

Analysis of precipitation events in the St. Louis aera, based on pre-event low-level wind flow, was pursued to ascertain the presence of urban effects on fall, winter, and spring precipitation. Data from a circular, dense, raingage network were used to define quadrant (NW, NE, SE, SW) average precipitation. Winds before each event (443 events in 1971–75) were used to define the urban plume and identify which quadrant was “downwind” of the city. Results for fall revealed a 17% increase in precipitation downwind of St. Louis and a 13% increase in events with their peak rainfall occurring downwind, both outcomes were statistically significant at the 1% level. The downwind enhancement was greatest when pre-event winds were from the SE, and when average precipitation in the quadrant with the maximum value was either light (<5.1 mm) or quite heavy (>17.9 mm). The fall results agree well with earlier findings for summer rainfall that revealed a 25% increase due to enhancement in isolated airmass showers and during heavier, well-organized convective system Winter precipitation indicated little precipitation change downwind of St. Louis. However, when SW pre-event winds existed (a flow often associated with conviction), there was a statistically significant downwind increase in winter precipitation; but when pre-event winds were from SE or NW (flows frequently associated with stratiform precipitation), downwind decreases occurred. The number of spring precipitation conditions that maximized downwind of St. Louis was significantly greater than expected by chance particularly in light (<5.1 mm) events, but the total spring rainfall downwind increased only 4%. There was no suggestion of decreased precipitation in spring or fall. The urban influences to enhance precipitation appeared to be related to precipitation conditions with convective processes, and urban influences in more stratiform precipitation situations were negligible.

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