An analysis of intra-event precipitation variability for the United States (1980-2010)

David M. Brommer, Randall Cerveny, Robert Balling

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

1 Scopus citations


Hourly precipitation data were collected from 143 first-order US weather stations during the period from 1980 to 2009 to assess the internal distribution of precipitation events lasting at least three hours. A total of 46,595 individual precipitation events were identified and evaluated using the mean, standard deviation, skewness, kurtosis, and the number of peaks occurring within an event. Mean event duration is longest along the West and Northwest coasts, the Mid-South, the Mid-Atlantic, and the Northeast; while shorter-duration events are more frequent in the Rocky Mountains, the Southwest, and the Great Plains. Mean event precipitation and standard deviation are greatest along the Gulf Coast and decrease inland. Precipitation events are positively skewed, indicating that more precipitation tends to occur earlier in the event. The most positively-skewed events are also located in regions flanking the Gulf of Mexico, while less-skewed events are common in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions. Event kurtosis is negative throughout the entire USA, with the highest negative values generally west of the Front Range, where cyclonic development and transition produce more evenly distributed precipitation within storms. Intra-event precipitation maxima were also evaluated, with western Florida and the desert Southwest having the greatest number per event.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)456-470
Number of pages15
JournalPhysical Geography
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2013


  • Climatology
  • Precipitation
  • Storm duration
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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