Radar studies of heavy convective rainfall in mountainous terrain

Gregoire Landel, James A. Smith, Mary Lynn Baeck, Matthias Steiner, Fred L. Ogden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Heavy rainfall, topography, storm motion, and storm evolution are closely linked for four storms that produced catastrophic flooding along the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains and the east slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Storms selected for detailed study in this paper are the Rapidan storm of June 27, 1995, the Fort Collins storm of July 28, 1997, the Buffalo Creek storm of July. 12, 1996, and the Monocacy storm of June 18, 1996. The Buffalo Creek storm and the Fort Collins storm occurred in the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado; the Rapidan and Monocacy storms occurred along the east slopes of the Blue Ridge of Virginia and southern Pennsylvania. The four storms caused catastrophic flooding at drainage basin scales between 1 and 1000 km2. The scale of flood response for these events imposes a need to characterize rainfall variability at very fine space scales and timescales, of the order of 1 km spatial scale and 1-5 min timescale. A fundamental issue for the hydrometeorology of extreme rainfall in mountainous terrain is whether anomalously large rainfall accumulations in orographic convection result from anomalously slow net storm motion, anomalously large rainfall rates, or both. Anomalous storm motion and processes resulting in catastrophic rainfall rates are examined for each of the four storms. Of particular importance for anomalous storm motion in orographic convection are interactions between the low-level wind field and terrain features.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1999JD900297
Pages (from-to)31451-31465
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres
Issue numberD24
StatePublished - Dec 27 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Chemistry
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry


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