CW3E AR Update: 18 October 2017 Outlook

CW3E AR Update: 18 October 2017 Outlook

October 18, 2017

Click here for a pdf of this information.

Multiple ARs forecast to Impact U.S. West Coast

  • A potentially extreme AR is forecast to make landfall over the Pacific Northwest today
  • NWS precipitation forecasts show accumulations of ~10 inches for the Olympic Mountains in northwest Washington
  • A second AR is forecast to make landfall on Saturday, though forecast uncertainty is currently high
  • Total 5-day precipitation accumulations could be as high as 15.5 inches
  • Current soil conditions are dry which could lead to less runoff and lower flooding potential

Click IVT or IWV image to see loop of 0-141 hour GFS forecast

Valid 0600 UTC 18 October – 0300 UTC 24 October 2017

For more information on the satellite imagery and the configuration click here

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary provided by C. Hecht, B. Kawzenuk, and F.M. Ralph; 1 PM PT Wednesday 18 October 2017

*Outlook products are considered experimental

CW3E Publication Notice: The Chiricahua Gap and the Role of Easterly Water Vapor Transport in Southeastern Arizona Monsoon Precipitation

CW3E Publication Notice

The Chiricahua Gap and the Role of Easterly Water Vapor Transport in Southeastern Arizona Monsoon Precipitation

Spetember 13, 2017

Click here for personal use pdf file

This study is a collaborative effort between CW3E and University of Arizona that identifies a terrain feature along the Arizona-New Mexico border just north of Mexico that is potentially important to the weather and climate of the southeast Arizona summer monsoon. The terrain feature is a “gap” that is approximately 250 km across and 1 km deep and represents the lowest terrain elevation along the 3000-km length the Continental Divide from 16-45°N. The name “Chiricahua Gap” is introduced to identify this key terrain feature, which reflects the name of a nearby mountain range in southeast Arizona and the region’s Native American history. The importance of the Chiricahua Gap is that it represents the primary pathway in which low altitude atmospheric water vapor is transported across the Continental Divide.

Motivated by identification of the Chiricahua Gap, upper-air observations from a wind profiling radar in Tucson, model reanalyses (Climate Forecast System Reanalysis), and gridded daily precipitation data (NCEP Stage-IV) are used to construct a case study and 15-year climatology to link summer monsoon rainfall events in southeast Arizona to low-altitude water vapor transport within the Chiricahua Gap. The results show that 76% of the wettest summer monsoon days in southeast Arizona during 2002-2016 occurred in conditions of low-altitude easterly water vapor transport in the Chiricahua Gap on the previous day. This result highlights how low-altitude water vapor associated with the wettest summer monsoon days in southeast Arizona originates from the east side of the Continental Divide, which differs from previous studies published since the 1970s. Much of the recent scientific literature points to southwesterly surges of low-altitude water vapor from over the Gulf of California as the primary driver of rainfall over southern Arizona during the summer monsoon. The current study by F. M. Ralph and T. J. Galarneau shows that the source region of low-altitude water vapor in southeast Arizona during the summer monsoon is potentially more complex, and is significantly influenced by source regions east of the Divide.

The paper is an example of CW3E expanding its research to examine the dynamics of the North American monsoon. Because monsoon is an important source or water for the US southwest and can cause flooding events, particularly flash floods, better understanding and improving forecasts of the North American monsoon is and important component of CW3E achieving its goal of revolutionizing the physical understanding, observations, weather predictions, of extreme events in Western North America and their impacts on floods, droughts, hydropower, ecosystems and the economy.

Figure 1: Terrain height (shaded in m) over Arizona, New Mexico, western Texas, and northern Mexico. Key terrain features are labeled in black. The location of Tucson, Arizona, is labeled by the black-filled circle. Low-altitude easterly water vapor transport through the Chiricahua Gap is shown by the blue arrows. This figure is modified from Fig. 1b in Ralph and Galarneau (2017).

CW3E Undergraduate Researcher, Cody Poulsen, Awarded a SDEP Excellence Award

CW3E Undergraduate Researcher, Cody Poulsen, Awarded a SDEP Excellence Award

June 28, 2017

Cody Poulsen, an undergraduate student at UC San Diego pursuing a degree in Environmental Chemistry in the Environmental Systems (ESYS) Department and a minor in Digital Media, has collaborated on a research project with CW3E post-doc Scott Sellars. The project began during the summer of 2016 and was focused on using a program created by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) named Video Annotation Reference Systems (VARS) to produce useable meteorological metadata. VARS was created by MBARI to aid researchers in cataloguing the occurrences of biological species and geological formations in the large amounts of underwater footage collected by their ROVs. The research continued as part of Cody’s senior thesis during which he created an Atmospheric River metadata set with VARS. During the process, he learned more about the system and its capabilities. The metadata set is comprised of annotations for the location of AR landfall and center of AR events during the Water Years (WYs) 2001 and 2011. In addition, annotations for ARs with an associated Lower Level Jet (LLJ) structure where produced for both WYs. In the case study of WYs 2001 and 2011, the metadata depicted an anomalously high amount of landfalling AR events in California/Oregon for December 2010 juxtaposed to zero landfalling events along the North American West Coast excluding Alaska for December 2000. 500-hPa average wind speeds, heights, & direction plots for the two months where created to discern the general first principal flow that might explain the different AR trajectories. With these plots, it was found that a high-pressure ridge at 180° and low pressure trough at 140°W funneled ARs onto the California/Oregon coast for December 2010. Where December 2000 had a slight high pressure ridge along the coast to produce an insignificant blocking action leading to the assumption that some other synoptic features must be at play to produce the zero-event period.

For his senior thesis, Cody produced a poster on the VARS research project and presented it at the ESYS senior symposium. The symposium was comprised of poster presentations from each of the ESYS seniors that participated in research projects/ internships over their senior year. Cody and his research were selected by San Diego Environmental Professionals (SDEP) as one of the two projects to win an excellence award.

CW3E undergraduate researcher, Cody Poulsen, presents his research using VARS at the ESYS senior symposium.

CW3E AR Update: 06 June 2017 Outlook

CW3E AR Update: 06 June 2017 Outlook

June 06, 2017

Click here for a pdf of this information.

Update on Late Season AR Forecast to Impact West Coast This Week

  • Little change from yesterday’s forecast
  • Ensemble GFS members are still in good agreement of the onset, duration, and maximum magnitude of coastal IVT
  • NOAA WPC precipitation forecasts are predicting as much as 4.2 inches over the Coastal Mountains of Northern CA and OR
  • A few rivers in the Cascade Range of WA and OR are forecast to rise to action or flood stage due to melting snow and the landfalling AR

Click IVT or IWV image to see loop of 0-114 hour GFS forecast

Valid 1200 UTC 06 June – 0600 UTC 11 June 2017


 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary provided by C. Hecht and F.M. Ralph; 12 PM PT Tuesday 06 June 2017

CW3E AR Update: 05 June 2017 Outlook

CW3E AR Update: 05 June 2017 Outlook

June 05, 2017

Click here for a pdf of this information.

Late Season AR Forecast to Impact West Coast

  • An unseasonably strong AR is forecast to impact the Pacific Northwest and Northern CA over the next couple of days
  • As much as 4.1 inches of precipitation is forecast to fall over the higher elevations of the Coastal Mountains in CA and OR over the next week
  • With higher freezing levels forecast during landfall, there is a potential for rain on snow and increased runoff
  • Due to the combination of snowmelt and the landfalling AR, several rivers in the Pacific Northwest are forecast to rise above flood stage

Click IVT or IWV image to see loop of 0-114 hour GFS forecast

Valid 1200 UTC 05 June – 0600 UTC 10 June 2017


 

 

 

 

 

 

Summary provided by C. Hecht and F.M. Ralph; 1 PM PT Monday 05 June 2017

CW3E Update: Flood Risk From Snow Melt

CW3E Update: Flood Risk From Snow Melt

May 23, 2017

Click here for a pdf of this information.

Anomalously Warm Temperatures Expected to Contribute to Melting Snowpack and Elevated Runoff

  • High temperatures of 60–80˚F (16–26˚F) are forecast for the higher elevations of the Sierra Nevada Mountains over the next several days
  • The higher than normal water year to date precipitation over much of the West Coast has created snow packs that are much greater than normal over most of the Sierra Nevada Mountains
  • The combination of anomalously high temperatures and snow pack is forecast to lead to increased runoff and potential flooding
  • The National Weather Service has issued flood watches and warnings for several locations in California
  • Loop of GFS Forecast Surface Temperatures

    Valid 1200 UTC 23 May – 1200 UTC 30 May 2017


     

     

     

    Summary provided by C. Hecht B. Kawzenuk and F.M. Ralph; 12 PM PT Tuesday 23 May 2017

CW3E Publication Notice: High-Impact Hydrologic Events and Atmospheric Rivers in California: An Investigation using the NCEI Storm Events Database

CW3E Publication Notice

High-Impact Hydrologic Events and Atmospheric Rivers in California: An Investigation using the NCEI Storm Events Database

April 12, 2017

Two 2016 graduates of the M.S. Applied Meteorology program at Plymouth State University, Klint Skelly (May 2016) and Allison Young (December 2016) advised by CW3E Affiliate Dr. Jason Cordeira, worked collectively on understanding the fraction of floods, flash floods, and debris flows (termed high-impact hydrologic events, or HIHEs) that are associated with landfalling ARs in California.

The HIHE–AR relationship was studied over a 10-water year period from Oct 2004 through Sep 2014 with HIHE reports obtained from the National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) Storm Events Database and AR dates obtained from a catalog of landfalling ARs from Rutz et al. (2013). Some detailed results are provided below. More information is contained in a manuscript that was recently published in the AGU Geophysical Research Letters: Young, A. M., K. T Skelly, and J. M. Cordeira, 2017: High-Impact Hydrologic Events and Atmospheric Rivers in California: An Investigation using the NCEI Storm Events Database. Geophys. Res. Lett., 44, doi:10.1002/2017GL073077. click here for personal use pdf file

Key Results: A total of 1,415 HIHE reports in California during the 10-year period of study reduced to 580 HIHE days across the different National Weather Service County Warning Areas (CWAs). A large majority (82.9%) of HIHE days occur over southern California; however, a larger fraction of HIHEs are associated with landfalling ARs across northern California (80.8%) as compared to southern California (41.8%). The 580 HIHE days across the different CWAs, when combined, reduced to 364 unique HIHE days for the state of California. A larger number of HIHE days statewide occur during summer (57.1%) as compared to winter (42.9%). Conversely, a larger fraction of HIHE days associated with ARs occur in winter (78.2%) as compared to summer (25.0%), which corresponds to similar values obtained by Neiman et al., (2008) and Ralph and Dettinger (2012).

Figure caption: Total number of HIHE days per (a) CWA and (b–d) month for (b) all of California, (c) northern California, and (d) southern California. The blue bars and denominator represent the total number of HIHE days, whereas the white hatched bars and numerator represent the total number of HIHE days associated with ARs.

The 580 HIHE days across different CWAs, when combined by region, reduced to 88 unique HIHE days for northern California and 301 unique HIHE days for southern California. A larger number of HIHE days across northern California occur during winter (62.5%) as compared to summer (37.5%), whereas a larger number of HIHE days across southern California occur during summer (60.8%) as compared to winter (39.2%). The fraction of these HIHE days that are associated with ARs is higher over northern California (63.6%) as compared to southern California (39.2%).

This study illustrated that HIHE days contained within the NCEI Storm Events Database for CWAs across California can be attributed to landfalling ARs and their associated precipitation extremes. This attribution is largely valid for HIHE days across northern California in the cold season and not necessarily valid for HIHE days across southern California during the warm season. Approximately 57% of all HIHE days in California occurred during the warm-season, mostly in conjunction with flash floods, and 75% of these HIHE days were not associated with ARs. The composite analysis of flash flood days across California illustrated the climatological warm-season flow pattern for precipitation across southern California and closely resembled the type-IV monsoon synoptic pattern as defined by Maddox et al. (1980). This result motivates additional future work that could focus on the role of the North American monsoon and other non-AR processes that produce HIHEs across California.

Support for this project was provided by the State of California-Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, both as part of broader projects led by CW3E. Dr. Cordeira and his graduate students at Plymouth State University actively collaborate with CW3E on topics related to atmospheric rivers, such as analyzing, understanding, and forecasting their impacts along the U.S. West Coast.

CW3E AR Update: 11 April 2017 Outlook

CW3E AR Update: 11 April 2017 Outlook

April 11, 2017

Click here for a pdf of this information.

AR Currently Impacting West Coast

  • An AR is currently impacting Northern CA producing widespread precipitation over the region
  • A second AR is forecast to merge with the current AR, prolonging AR conditions over Northern CA
  • .25 to .88 inches of precipitation has already fallen across portions of Northern CA with >2.5 inches forecasted for higher elevations
  • This event could produce enough precipitation to make water year 2017 the wettest year recorded by the Northern Sierra 8-station index

SSMI Integrated Water Vapor (IWV)

Valid 10-11 April 2017

Click IVT or IWV image to see loop of 0-51 hour GFS forecast

Valid 1200 UTC 11 April – 1500 UTC 11 April 2017

A second AR with a separate parent low-pressure system is forecast to merge with the current AR, which could prolong AR conditions over portions of Northern CA


 

 

 

 

Summary provided by C. Hecht and F.M. Ralph; 1 PM PT Tuesday 11 April 2017

How Many Atmospheric Rivers Have Hit the U.S. West Coast During the Remarkably Wet Water Year 2017?

How Many Atmospheric Rivers Have Hit the U.S. West Coast During the Remarkably Wet Water Year 2017?

April 6, 2017

It has been well established that much of the west coast receives roughly 30-50% of its annual precipitation from landfalling atmospheric rivers. One of the goals of CW3E is to provide timely information on atmospheric rivers and their impacts on water in the West. The analysis presented here is based upon examination of AR conditions on each day from 1 October 2016 through 31 March 2017. Research-based criteria for AR identification have been used, especially the strength of integrated vapor transport (IVT). ARs are also ranked according to a simple scale introduced in 2016 (see inset in the graphic for the scaling).

As would be expected, one reason this winter has been so wet in the west is the large number of landfalling ARs. In addition, a large fraction of these events has been strong, or even extreme, in magnitude, and have caused serious flooding, and incidents like the Oroville Dam spillway issue.

Contacts: F. Martin Ralph, Chad Hecht, Brian Kawzenuk

There have been 45 total atmospheric rivers that have made landfall over the U.S. West coast from 1 October to 31 March 2017. Of the 45 total ARs, 10 have been Weak, 20 have been Moderate, 12 have been Strong, and 3 have been Extreme (Based on IVT magnitude). 1/3 of the landfalling ARs have been “strong” or “extreme”.

The large number of ARs that have made landfall over the U.S. West Coast have produced large amounts of precipitation. The Northern Sierra 8-station index is currently at 83.4 inches, which is just 5.1 inches below the wettest year on record with seven months remaining in the water year. The graphic below, from the California Department of Water Resources, highlights this information.

Odds of Reaching 100% Water Year Precipitation – Apr Update

Odds of Reaching 100% of Normal Precipitation for Water Year 2017 (April Update)

April 6, 2017

Contribution from Dr. M.D. Dettinger, USGS

The odds shown here are the odds of precipitation in the rest of the water year (after March 2017) totaling a large enough amount to bring the water-year total to equal or exceed the percentage of normal listed. “All Yrs” odds based on monthly divisional precipitation totals from water year 1896-2015. Numbers in parenthesis are the corresponding odds if precipitation through March had been precisely normal (1981-2010 baseline).

Click here for a pdf file of this information.

 

 

 

How these probabilities were estimated:

At the end of a given month, if we know how much precipitation has fallen to date (in the water year), the amount of precipitation that will be required to close out the water year (on Sept 30) with a water-year total equal to the long-term normal is just that normal amount minus the amount received to date. Thus the odds of reaching normal by the end of the water year are just the odds of precipitation during the remaining of the year equaling or exceeding that remaining amount.

To arrive at the probabilities shown, the precipitation totals for the remaining months of the water year were tabulated in the long-term historical record and the number of years in which that precipitation total equaled or exceeded the amount still needed to reach normal were counted. The fraction of years that at least reached that threshold is the probability estimate. This simple calculation was performed for a full range of possible starting months (from November thru September) and for a wide range of initial (year-to-date) precipitation conditions. The calculation was also made for the probabilities of reaching 75% of normal by end of water year, 125%, and 150%, to ensure that the resulting tables of probabilities cover almost the full range of situations that will come up in the future.

[One key simplifying assumption goes into estimating the probabilities this way: The assumption that the amount of precipitation that will fall in the remainder of a water year does not depend on the amount that has already fallen in that water year to date. This assumption was tested for each month of the year by correlating historical year-to-date amounts with the remainder-of-the-year amounts, and the resulting correlations were never statistically significantly different from zero, except possibly when the beginning month is March, for which there is a small positive correlation between Oct-Mar and Apr-Sept precipitation historically.]

Contact: Michael Dettinger (USGS)