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The Estimation of Probable Maximum Precipitation

The Case of Catalonia


Address for correspondence: M. Carmen Casas, EPSEVG. UPC. Avgda. Víctor Balaguer, s/n. 08800 Vilanova i la Geltrú, Barcelona, Spain. Voice: +34938967786; fax: +34938967700.


A brief overview of the different techniques used to estimate the probable maximum precipitation (PMP) is presented. As a particular case, the 1-day PMP over Catalonia has been calculated and mapped with a high spatial resolution. For this purpose, the annual maximum daily rainfall series from 145 pluviometric stations of the Instituto Nacional de Meteorología (Spanish Weather Service) in Catalonia have been analyzed. In order to obtain values of PMP, an enveloping frequency factor curve based on the actual rainfall data of stations in the region has been developed. This enveloping curve has been used to estimate 1-day PMP values of all the 145 stations. Applying the Cressman method, the spatial analysis of these values has been achieved. Monthly precipitation climatological data, obtained from the application of Geographic Information Systems techniques, have been used as the initial field for the analysis. The 1-day PMP at 1 km2 spatial resolution over Catalonia has been objectively determined, varying from 200 to 550 mm. Structures with wavelength longer than approximately 35 km can be identified and, despite their general concordance, the obtained 1-day PMP spatial distribution shows remarkable differences compared to the annual mean precipitation arrangement over Catalonia.