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  1. Abstract

    Hydrometeorological impacts due to urbanization for cities close to complex terrain are poorly understood due to the complexities of terrain‐related circulation and urban perturbations of atmospheric flow. In this study, we examine urban impacts on extreme monsoon rainfall and the resultant flooding over central Arizona based on high‐resolution atmospheric and hydrological model simulations. Strong positive rainfall anomalies at the urban‐rural interface downwind of the city are mainly related to dynamic effects (increased surface roughness) on convective outflow boundaries. Urban‐related thermodynamic disturbances slightly increase rain rates over the downtown core of Phoenix. Contrasting rainfall anomalies for two consecutive storm episodes highlight the importance of flow regime analysis in understanding urban impacts on extreme rainfall in complex terrain. Urban‐induced rainfall anomalies result in amplification of flood peak magnitudes by as much as a factor of 2 for Phoenix watersheds. Our results highlight the urban impacts on regional flood hydrology through land‐atmosphere interactions.

  2. Abstract

    Flash flooding in the arid/semiarid southwestern United States is frequently associated with convective rainfall during the North American monsoon. In this study, we examine flood-producing storms in central Arizona based on analyses of dense rain gauge observations and stream gauging records as well as North American Regional Reanalysis fields. Our storm catalog consists of 102 storm events during the period of 1988–2014. Synoptic conditions for flood-producing storms are characterized based on principal component analyses. Four dominant synoptic modes are identified, with the first two modes explaining approximately 50% of the variance of the 500-hPa geopotential height. The transitional synoptic pattern from the North American monsoon regime to midlatitude systems is a critical large-scale feature for extreme rainfall and flooding in central Arizona. Contrasting spatial rainfall organizations and storm environment under the four synoptic modes highlights the role of interactions among synoptic conditions, mesoscale processes, and complex terrains in determining space–time variability of convective activities and flash flood hazards in central Arizona. We characterize structure and evolution properties of flood-producing storms based on storm tracking algorithms and 3D radar reflectivity. Fast-moving storm elements can be important ingredients for flash floods in the arid/semiarid southwestern United States. Contrasting storm properties formore »cloudburst storms highlight the wide spectrum of convective intensities for extreme rain rates in the arid/semiarid southwestern United States and exhibit comparable vertical structures to their counterparts in the eastern United States.

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  3. Abstract

    Urban development, topographic relief, and coastal boundaries can all exert influences on storm hydroclimatology, making rainfall and flood frequency analysis a major challenge. This study explores heterogeneity in extreme rainfall in the Baltimore Metropolitan region at small spatial scales using hydrometeorological analyses of major storm events in combination with hydroclimatological analyses based onstorm catalogsdeveloped using a 16‐year record of high‐resolution bias‐corrected radar rainfall fields. Our analyses demonstrate the potential for rainfall frequency methods using storm catalogs combined with stochastic storm transposition (SST); procedures are implemented for Dead Run, a small (14.3 km2) urban watershed located within the Baltimore Metropolitan area. The results point to the pronounced impact of complex terrain (including the Chesapeake Bay to the east, mountainous terrain to the west and urbanization in the region) on the regional rainfall climatology. Warm‐season thunderstorm systems are shown to be the dominant mechanism for generating extreme, short‐duration rainfall that leads to flash flooding. The SST approach is extended through the implementation of amultiplier fieldthat accounts for spatial heterogeneities in extreme rainfall magnitude. SST‐based analyses demonstrate the need to consider rainfall heterogeneity at multiple scales when estimating the rainfall intensity‐duration‐frequency relationships.

  4. Abstract. The impact of spatial and temporal variability of rainfall on hydrological response remains poorly understood, in particular in urban catchments due to their strong variability in land use, a high degree of imperviousness and the presence of stormwater infrastructure. In this study, we analyze the effect of storm scale, position and movement in relation to basin scale and flow-path network structure on urban hydrological response. A catalog of 279 peak events was extracted from a high-quality observational dataset covering 15 years of flow observations and radar rainfall data for five (semi)urbanized basins ranging from 7.0 to 111.1 km2 in size. Results showed that the largest peak flows in the event catalog were associated with storm core scales exceeding basin scale, for all except the largest basin. Spatial scale of flood-producing storm events in the smaller basins fell into two groups: storms of large spatial scales exceeding basin size or small, concentrated events, with storm core much smaller than basin size. For the majority of events, spatial rainfall variability was strongly smoothed by the flow-path network, increasingly so for larger basin size. Correlation analysis showed that position of the storm in relation to the flow-path network was significantly correlated with peak flow inmore »the smallest and in the two more urbanized basins. Analysis of storm movement relative to the flow-path network showed that direction of storm movement, upstream or downstream relative to the flow-path network, had little influence on hydrological response. Slow-moving storms tend to be associated with higher peak flows and longer lag times. Unexpectedly, position of the storm relative to impervious cover within the basins had little effect on flow peaks. These findings show the importance of observation-based analysis in validating and improving our understanding of interactions between the spatial distribution of rainfall and catchment variability.« less