Effect of urbanization on the diurnal rainfall pattern in Houston

Authors

  • Steven J. Burian,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah, 122 S. Central Campus Drive, Suite 104, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA
    • Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Utah, 122 S Central Campus Drive, Suite 104, Salt Lake City, UT 84112, USA.
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  • J. Marshall Shepherd

    1. Earth Science Enterprise, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD 20771, USA
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Abstract

Data from 19 raingauges located within and nearby Houston were analysed to quantify the impact of urbanization of the Houston metropolitan area on the local diurnal rainfall pattern. The average annual and warm-season diurnal rainfall patterns were determined for one time period when Houston was relatively small and likely would not have had a significant effect on meteorological processes (1940–58) and for a second, more recent, time period after Houston had become a major metropolitan area (1984–99). The diurnal rainfall patterns within the hypothesized urban-affected region and an upwind control region were compared for the pre- and post-urban time periods. Results indicated that the diurnal rainfall distribution in the urban area is much different than that found for the upwind and downwind adjacent regions for the 1984 to 1999 time period. For an average warm season from 1984 to 1999, the urban area and downwind urban-impacted region registered 59% and 30% respectively greater rainfall amounts from noon to midnight than an upwind control region. Moreover, the urban area had approximately 80% more recorded rainfall occurrences between noon and midnight during the warm season than surrounding areas. Comparison of the pre- and post-urban rainfall patterns indicated that the diurnal rainfall distribution has changed in southeast Texas. The changes are most significant in the urban area, especially for the afternoon time increments during the warm season. The average warm-season rainfall amount registered in the urban area increased by 25% from the pre- to the post-urban time period, while the amount in the upwind control region decreased by 8%. The majority of the increase was observed for the noon to 4 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. time increments. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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