Past Research

Annual Volume and Area Variations in Tropical Cyclone Rainfall over the Eastern United States

Research dates: 2008-2010
Investigator(s): Ricardo Nogueira, Barry Keim

This paper examines tropical cyclone (TC) rainfall in the eastern United States from the perspective of documenting accumulated annual water volumes and areas of the precipitation. Volume is a value that merges both rainfall depth and rainfall area into a single metric for each year that can be directly compared between individual years. Area represents the total land area affected by tropical rains. These TC rainfall metrics were then compared to the ENSO and the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO). Time series of annual TC water volumes show an annual average of 107 km3. The maximum volume was produced in 1985 with 405.8 km3, driven by Hurricanes Bob, Claudette, Danny, Elena, Gloria, Henri, Juan, and Kate as well as by Tropical Storms Henri and Isabel. The lowest TC volume occurred in 1978 with 8.9 km3. ENSOphases did not show any statistical correlation with TC frequency in the eastern United States. However, AMO showed a significant correlation with volume and the number of storms affecting the region. TC rainfall volume and area in the eastern United States showed a strong correlation. However, there are exceptions, whereby 1985 stands out as an exceptional volume year though the area affected is not as impressive. In contrast, 1979 is an example when TCs covered a large area with a corresponding small rainfall volume, in part because of the rapid forward movement of the storms, for example, Hurricanes David and Frederic. Since 1995, TCs have become more numerous, producing larger volumes and affecting larger areas. For more information, please see this journal article.