Raingage network design using nexrad precipitation estimates

A. Allen Bradley, Christa Peters-Lidard, Brian R. Nelson, James A. Smith, C. Bryan Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


A general framework is proposed for using precipitation estimates from NEXRAD weather radars in raingage network design. NEXRAD precipitation products are used to represent space time rainfall fields, which can be sampled by hypothetical raingage networks. A stochastic model is used to simulate gage observations based on the areal average precipitation for radar grid cells. The stochastic model accounts for subgrid variability of precipitation within the cell and gage measurement errors. The approach is ideally suited to raingage network design in regions with strong climatic variations in rainfall where conventional methods are sometimes lacking. A case study example involving the estimation of areal average precipitation for catchments in the Catskill Mountains illustrates the approach. The case study shows how the simulation approach can be used to quantify the effects of gage density, basin size, spatial variation of precipitation, and gage measurement error, on network estimates of areal average precipitation. Although the quality of NEXRAD precipitation products imposes limitations on their use in network design, weather radars can provide valuable information for empirical assessment of raingage network estimation errors. Still, the biggest challenge in quantifying estimation errors is understanding subgrid spatial variability. The results from the case study show that the spatial correlation of precipitation at subgrid scales (4 km and less) is difficult to quantify, especially for short sampling durations. Network estimation errors for hourly precipitation are extremely sensitive to the uncertainty in subgrid spatial variability, although for storm total accumulation, they are much less sensitive.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1393-1407
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


  • Catskill Mountains
  • Hydrologic sampling
  • Network design
  • Precipitation measurement


Dive into the research topics of 'Raingage network design using nexrad precipitation estimates'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this