Tropical cyclone rainfall over Puerto Rico and its relations to environmental and storm-specific factors
José J. Hernández Ayala and Corene J. Matyas
Article first published online: 17 Sep 2015 International Journal of Climatology
ABSTRACT: Although tropical cyclone rainfall (TCR) is common over Puerto Rico, the factors that cause this rain to vary from one storm to another have not been studied. The aim of this article is to understand how storm-specific characteristics including storm location, duration, storm centre proximity to land, intensity, horizontal translation speed (HTS) and environmental factors like moisture and vertical wind shear affect TCR variability over Puerto Rico. TCR was determined at rain gauge locations for days when storms were within a 500 km radius of Puerto Rico. The station data were then used to calculate an island-averaged total rainfall value for 86 storms during 1970–2010. The maximum observed rainfall was also examined. Correlation analyses of the individual predictors, principal component regression (PCR) procedures and Mann–Whitney U tests identified precipitable water, storm centre proximity to land, mid-level relative humidity (MRH), duration, HTS and longitude as the predictors with the strongest influence on rainfall. The PCR showed that a component comprised of precipitable water, MRH and longitude accounted for more than 60% in TCR variability. When an additional component comprised of storm duration, storm centre proximity to land and translation speed was considered, the PCR model explained 70% (52%) of the variability in mean (maximum) TCR. Key threshold values for high rainfall across Puerto Rico are a storm centre distance of 233 km or less and moisture exceeding 44.5 mm of precipitable water and 44.5% of relative humidity with forward speeds of 6.4ms−1 or less. Extreme rainfall at a single location can occur when a TC’s centre is over 450 km away.
Read the full publication at International Journal of Climatology