The unseasonal winter heavy rainfall and flooding that occurred during December 2015–January 2016 had large socio-economic impacts for the central United States. Here we examine the climatic conditions that led to the observed extreme precipitation, and compare and contrast them with the 1982/1983 and 2011/2012 winters. The large precipitation amounts associated with the 1982/1983 and 2015/2016 winter flooding were linked to the strongly positive North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), with large moisture transported from the Gulf of Mexico. The anomalous upper-level trough in the 1982- and 2015- Decembers over the western United States was also favorable for strong precipitation by leading the cold front over the central United States. In contrast, the extremely positive NAO in December 2011 did not lead to heavy rainfall and flooding because the Azores High center shifted too far westward (like a blocking high) preventing moisture from moving towards the central and southeastern United States.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science