Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres

Characterization of rainfall distribution and flooding associated with U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones: Analyses of Hurricanes Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne (2004)



[1] Rainfall and flooding associated with landfalling tropical cyclones are examined through empirical analyses of three hurricanes (Frances, Ivan, and Jeanne) that affected large portions of the eastern U.S. during September 2004. Three rainfall products are considered for the analyses: NLDAS, Stage IV, and TMPA. Each of these products has strengths and weaknesses related to their spatio-temporal resolution and accuracy in estimating rainfall. Based on our analyses, we recommend using the Stage IV product when studying rainfall distribution in landfalling tropical cyclones due to its fine spatial and temporal resolutions (about 4-km and hourly) and accuracy, and the capability of estimating rainfall up to 150 km from the coast. Lagrangian analyses of rainfall distribution relative to the track of the storm are developed to represent evolution of the temporal and spatial structure of rainfall. Analyses highlight the profound changes in rainfall distribution near landfall, the changing contributions to the rainfall field from eyewall convection, inner rain bands and outer rain bands, and the key role of orographic amplification of rainfall. We also present new methods for examining spatial extreme of flooding from tropical cyclones and illustrate the links between evolving rainfall structure and spatial extent of flooding.