Extreme Precipitation over the West Coast of North America: Is There a Trend?

Clifford Mass, Adam Skalenakis, Michael Warner
2011 Journal of Hydrometeorology  
Heavy precipitation and the resulting flooding are the most serious weather-related hazards over the west coast of North America. This paper analyzes the trends in heavy precipitation for the period 1950-2009 by examining the decadal distributions of the top 60, 40, and 20 two-day precipitation events for a collection of stations along the coastal zone of the United States and British Columbia, as well as the decadal distribution of maximum daily discharge for unregulated rivers from northern
more » ... lifornia to Washington State. During the past 60 years there has been a modest increase in heavy precipitation events over southern and central coastal California, a decline in heavy events from northern California through the central Oregon coast, a substantial increase in major events over Washington, and a modest increase over coastal British Columbia. Most of these trends are not significantly different from zero at the 95% level. The trends in maximum daily discharge of unregulated rivers are consistent with the above pattern, with increasing discharges over the past three decades over Washington and northern Oregon and declines over the remainder of Oregon and northern California. Finally, the above trends in heavy rainfall and daily discharge are compared to the future patterns indicated by general circulation models under various global warming scenarios.
doi:10.1175/2010jhm1341.1 fatcat:nym7n57gyfegjowxu3v5nyou4a