Colorado’s biggest storms can happen anytime, CU-Boulder-NOAA study finds

first_imgShare Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail Published: May 19, 2015 Audio ScriptColorado’s biggest storms can happen anytime, CU-Boulder-NOAA study finds5/20/2015                                                                 Kelly MahoneyPeople tend to think of weather in terms of seasons being drier or wetter than others, but according to a new study extreme precipitation events of rain, hail or snow can happen anywhere and anytime of the year in Colorado, says atmospheric scientist Kelly Mahoney, lead author of the study.CUT 1 “Colorado’s extreme precipitation can occur in any season and, really, at all elevations across the state. So trying to assign extreme events to a certain season isn’t necessarily a good thing to do here in Colorado. (:12) Very big storms can happen during any season and for those reasons it’s important for decision makers to understand that impacts such as flooding are a nearly year-round risk across the state.” (:24)Mahoney is a scientist with the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Science, a partnership between CU-Boulder and NOAA. She says the study was done to improve the understanding of the state’s extreme event climatology.CUT 2 “Because even in regions where you think you have a strong seasonal signal the data actually show that the heavy precipitation events can happen outside of this sort of expected time. (:10) And that sort of logic is what we were kind of speaking to in this paper. That we really don’t obey the law of averages in Colorado when you come to the extremes.” (:18)Researchers found that the central mountains, along the crest of the Continental Divide, defied assumptions that the biggest storm events would happen during the winter, says Mahoney.CUT 3 “Along the spine of the Continental Divide there’s really no clear pattern. The common belief—based on sort of historical averages—is that winter storms at the state’s highest elevations will produce big snow events. And that’s not necessarily what we found. (:15) Instead, high-elevation intense events have occurred during all months of the year there – again in those one-day totals – including the summer, which is interesting, because the precipitation at that time of the year is more likely to be rain and therefore more of a flood risk.” (:29)And the September 2013 flooding along the Front Range, says Mahoney, is more evidence that big storms can happen out of season.CUT 4 “After the September 2013 floods the sort of knee jerk reaction from a lot of people was, ‘Whoa! This happened in September. September is not a wet month for the Front Range.’ And that’s true when you look at seasonal averages. (:13) However, when you look at those precipitation ingredients coming together, September actually makes a lot of sense for our heavy one-day totals. So while it wasn’t typical, it certainly wasn’t unprecedented. There have been other past events in September.” (:28)For the study, researchers selected precipitation data from 130 weather observation stations throughout Colorado that had a record of at least 30 years of daily data between 1950 and 2010. At each station, the 10 largest daily rain totals were identified and used to characterize Colorado’s extreme precipitation by season. The study also includes researchers from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Colorado State University and the U.S. Geological Survey. -CU-last_img

Posts Tagged with… , , , , , , , , , , ,

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *