Structure and evolution of precipitation along a cold front in the northeastern United States

Yan Zhang, James A. Smith, Alexandros A. Ntelekos, Mary Lynn Baeck, Witold F. Krajewski, Fred Moshary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Heavy precipitation in the northeastern United States is examined through observational and numerical modeling analyses for a weather system that produced extreme rainfall rates and urban flash flooding over the New York-New Jersey region on 4-5 October 2006. Hydrometeorological analyses combine observations from Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) weather radars, the National Lightning Detection Network, surface observing stations in the northeastern United States, a vertically pointing lidar system, and a Joss-Waldvogel disdrometer with simulations from the Weather Research and Forecasting Model (WRF). Rainfall analyses from the Hydro-Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD) system, based on observations from WSR-88D radars in State College, Pennsylvania, and Fort Dix, New Jersey, and WRF model simulations show that heavy rainfall was organized into long-lived lines of convective precipitation, with associated regions of stratiform precipitation, that develop along a frontal zone. Structure and evolution of convective storm elements that produced extreme rainfall rates over the New York-New Jersey urban corridor were influenced by the complex terrain of the central Appalachians, the diurnal cycle of convection, and the history of convective evolution in the frontal zone. Extreme rainfall rates and flash flooding were produced by a "leading line-trailing stratiform" system that was rapidly dissipating as it passed over the New York-New Jersey region. Radar, disdrometer, and lidar observations are used in combination with model analyses to examine the dynamical and cloud microphysical processes that control the spatial and temporal structure of heavy rainfall. The study illustrates key elements of the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall that can be used to characterize flash flood hazards in the urban corridor of the northeastern United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1243-1256
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Hydrometeorology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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