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A Precipitation Climatology of 5-Day Periods

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  • 1 NWS/NMC/CAC, Camp Springs, Maryland
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Abstract

A precipitation climatology has been developed for the relative frequencies of zero, one, or two or more days with measurable precipitation within 5-day periods. In addition, the distribution of precipitation amounts is given for the one wet day in five and for the more than one wet day in five categories. The purpose of the climatology is to provide background for the development and introduction of extended-range (6–10 day forecast period) precipitation forecasts in terms of the probabilities of the three categories.

The climatology is based on 36 years of precipitation data at 146 stations in the contiguous United States. Details of the treatment of the data are provided. Diagrams are developed to display the seasonal patterns of frequency and amount for individual stations. The frequency diagram is a nomogram based on a simple Markov chain model for precipitation occurrences. It can be used to infer—from the frequencies of 0 and exactly 1 wet day in 5—single-day climatological precipitation probabilities or the probabilities conditional on precipitation falling on the previous day (or to infer—from the daily climatology and knowledge of the persistence—the probability of the three categories of the 5-day period). These diagrams are useful (as will be demonstrated by example) for describing and comparing precipitation climatologies. They should also aid the forecaster in making and interpreting probability forecasts of precipitation frequency for the 6–10 day period, where day-by-day forecasts are unfeasible.

Abstract

A precipitation climatology has been developed for the relative frequencies of zero, one, or two or more days with measurable precipitation within 5-day periods. In addition, the distribution of precipitation amounts is given for the one wet day in five and for the more than one wet day in five categories. The purpose of the climatology is to provide background for the development and introduction of extended-range (6–10 day forecast period) precipitation forecasts in terms of the probabilities of the three categories.

The climatology is based on 36 years of precipitation data at 146 stations in the contiguous United States. Details of the treatment of the data are provided. Diagrams are developed to display the seasonal patterns of frequency and amount for individual stations. The frequency diagram is a nomogram based on a simple Markov chain model for precipitation occurrences. It can be used to infer—from the frequencies of 0 and exactly 1 wet day in 5—single-day climatological precipitation probabilities or the probabilities conditional on precipitation falling on the previous day (or to infer—from the daily climatology and knowledge of the persistence—the probability of the three categories of the 5-day period). These diagrams are useful (as will be demonstrated by example) for describing and comparing precipitation climatologies. They should also aid the forecaster in making and interpreting probability forecasts of precipitation frequency for the 6–10 day period, where day-by-day forecasts are unfeasible.

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