precipitation in the olympic peninsula of washington state
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Precipitation in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. Robert Houze and Socorro Medina Department of Atmospheric Sciences University of Washington. Cold-Season Algorithm GV meeting, Fort Collins, 9 Nov 2009. The Olympic Peninsula is a natural “precipitation laboratory” .

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precipitation in the olympic peninsula of washington state

Precipitation in the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State

Robert Houze and Socorro Medina

Department of Atmospheric Sciences

University of Washington

Cold-Season Algorithm GV meeting, Fort Collins, 9 Nov 2009

the olympic peninsula is a natural precipitation laboratory
The Olympic Peninsula is a natural “precipitation laboratory”
  • Persistent southwesterly flow during the winter provides a reliable source of moisture
  • Extremely large precipitation accumulation produced as the moist SWly flow impinges on coastal terrain
  • Low 0ºC level rain at low elevations, snow at higher levels
the olympic peninsula is a natural precipitation laboratory3
The Olympic Peninsula is a natural “precipitation laboratory”
  • Persistent southwesterly flow during the winter provides a reliable source of moisture

NCEP long-term mean sea level pressure (mb) for winter (December to January) and topography

the olympic peninsula is a natural precipitation laboratory4
Maximum The Olympic Peninsula is a natural “precipitation laboratory”
  • Extremely large precipitation accumulation produced as the moist SWly flow impinges on coastal terrain

Annual average precipitation (PRISM)

the olympic peninsula is a natural precipitation laboratory5
Frequency of occurrence

0°C level

The Olympic Peninsula is a natural “precipitation laboratory”
  • Low 0ºC level  rain at low elevations, snow at higher ones

Distribution of Nov-Jan 0°C level for flow that is onshore and moist at low levels (KUIL sounding)Mean 0°C level during storms = 1.5 kmSee this full range in individual storms!

Plot provided by Justin Minder

resources and experience in the region
Resources and experience in the region
  • 1965-2000: Cascade Project, CYCLES, COAST
  • 2001: IMPROVE field experiment
  • 2004-2008: Detailed observing network across a southwestern Olympics ridge
  • 2009: NOAA Mobile Atmospheric River Monitoring System in Westport
  • 2012: NWS Coastal radar expected to be in place
  • Ongoing: Regional Environmental Prediction
resources and experience in the region7
Resources and experience in the region
  • 2001: IMPROVE field experiment (Stoelinga et al. 2003)

Coastline 

resources and experience in the region8
Detailed gauge network

SNOTEL

RAWS sites

COOP site

Anemometers

Disdrometers

Resources and experience in the region
  • 2004-2008: Detailed observing network across a southwestern Olympics ridge (Minder et al. 2008)
resources and experience in the region9
Resources and experience in the region
  • 2009: NOAA Mobile Atmospheric River Monitoring System in Westport

Data from vertically-pointing S-band radar

Signal-to-

noise ratio

Height

Radial

velocity

Height

Time

resources and experience in the region10
Resources and experience in the region
  • 2012: NWS Coastal radar expected to be in place

Example of Olympic Mountain

slopes views from coastal radar

Dark gray areas indicate regions where

the 0.5° elevation scans are blocked

Current radar

coverage

Radar coverage

with coastal radar

resources and experience in the region11
Resources and experience in the region
  • Ongoing: Regional Environmental Prediction-- WRF, hydrology, air quality, etc (Mass et al. 2003)

Real-time mesoscale numerical simulations

dx = 36 km

dx = 4 km

resources and experience in the region12
Resources and experience in the region
  • Ongoing: Regional Environmental Prediction-- WRF, hydrology, air quality, etc (Mass et al. 2003)

Real-time simulations with 1.33 km spatial resolutionwill be available shortly!

resources and experience in the region13
Resources and experience in the region
  • Ongoing: Regional Environmental Prediction-- WRF, hydrology, air quality, etc (Mass et al. 2003)

Long period of continuous mesoscale simulations provides model climatology

e.g., 5-yr MM5 Nov-Jan precipitation climatology (mm)

Verified by gauges: Minder et al. 2008

resources and experience in the region14
Resources and experience in the region
  • Ongoing: Regional Environmental Prediction-- WRF, hydrology, air quality, etc (Mass et al. 2003)

Ensemble forecasting 

probabilistic information

e.g., probability that the

precipitation accumulated

in a 3 h period > 0.1in

resources and experience in the region15
Resources and experience in the region
  • Ongoing: Regional Environmental Prediction-- WRF, hydrology, air quality, etc (Mass et al. 2003)

Hydrological prediction:

Mesoscale numerical

output drives a distributed

hydrological model 

basin streamflow forecast

possible field experiment configuration
Coastal

Radar

Possible field experiment configuration

NPOL would have an unimpeded view of the Quinault valley and the Olympic mountains

conclusions
Conclusions
  • The Olympic Peninsula is an ideal natural precipitation laboratory given:
    • Persistence of moist flow, complex terrain, huge precipitation amounts, and low 0°C level
  • The existing and planned resources and the past experience in this region provide a strong framework for a field campaign
acknowledgment
Acknowledgment

This research was supported by NASA grant NNX07AD59G and NSF grant ATM-08205586

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