Analyses of the warm season rainfall climatology of the northeastern US using regional climate model simulations and radar rainfall fields

June K. Yeung, James A. Smith, Gabriele Villarini, Alexandros A. Ntelekos, Mary Lynn Baeck, Witold F. Krajewski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


We examine the warm season (April-September) rainfall climatology of the northeastern US through analyses of high-resolution radar rainfall fields from the Hydro-NEXRAD system and regional climate model simulations using the weather research and forecasting (WRF) model. Analyses center on the 5-year period from 2003 to 2007 and the study area includes the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region covered by radar rainfall fields from the Fort Dix, NJ WSR-88D. The objective of this study is to develop and test tools for examining rainfall climatology, with a special focus on heavy rainfall. An additional emphasis is on rainfall climatology in regions of complex terrain, like the northeastern US, which is characterized by land-water boundaries, large heterogeneity in land use and cover, and mountainous terrain in the western portion of the region. We develop a 5-year record of warm season radar rainfall fields for the study region using the Hydro-NEXRAD system. We perform regional downscaling simulations for the 5-year study period using the WRF model. Radar rainfall fields are used to characterize the interannual, seasonal and diurnal variation of rainfall over the study region and to examine spatial heterogeneity of rainfall. Regional climate model simulations are characterized by a wet bias in the rainfall fields, with the largest bias in the high-elevation regions of the model domain. We show that model simulations capture broad features of the interannual, seasonal, and diurnal variation of rainfall. Model simulations do not capture spatial gradients in radar rainfall fields around the New York metropolitan region and land-water boundaries to the east. The model climatology of convective available potential energy (CAPE) is used to interpret the regional distribution of warm season rainfall and the seasonal and diurnal variability of rainfall. We use hydrologic and meteorological observations from July 2007 to examine the interactions of land surface processes and rainfall from a regional perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)184-204
Number of pages21
JournalAdvances in Water Resources
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology


  • Land-atmospheric interactions
  • Orographic
  • Rainfall climatology
  • Weather research and forecasting model


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