An evaluation of NEXRAD precipitation estimates in complex terrain

C. Bryan Young, Brian R. Nelson, A. Allen Bradley, James A. Smith, Christa D. Peters-Lidard, Anton Kruger, Mary Lynn Baeck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

127 Scopus citations


Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) precipitation estimates are used for hydrological, meteorological, and climatological studies at a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. The utility of radar-based precipitation estimates in such applications hinges on an understanding of the sources and magnitude of estimation error. This study examines precipitation estimation in the complex mountainous terrain of the northern Appalachian Mountains. Hourly digital precipitation (HDP) products for two WSR-88D radars in New York state are evaluated for a 2-year period. This analysis includes evaluation of range dependence and spatial distribution of estimates, radar intercomparisons for the overlap region, and radar-gage comparisons. The results indicate that there are unique challenges for radar-rainfall estimation in mountainous terrain. Beam blockage is a serious problem that is not corrected by existing NEXRAD algorithms. Underestimation and nondetection of precipitation are also significant concerns. Improved algorithms are needed for merging estimates from multiple radars with spatially variable biases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JD900123
Pages (from-to)19691-19703
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue numberD16
StatePublished - Aug 27 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Forestry
  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Soil Science
  • Geochemistry and Petrology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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