Extreme rainfall in Texas: Patterns and predictability

John W. Nielsen-Gammon, Fuqing Zhang, Andrew M. Odins, Boksoon Myoung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

53 Scopus citations


Extreme rainfall, with storm total precipitation exceeding 500 mm, occurs several times per decade in Texas. According to a compositing analysis, the large-scale weather patterns associated with extreme rainfall events involve a northward deflection of the tropical trade winds into Texas, with deep southerly winds extending into the middle troposphere. One such event, the July 2002 South-Central Texas flood, is examined in detail. This particular event was associated with a stationary upper-level trough over central Texas and northern Mexico that established a steady influx of tropical moisture from the south. While the onset of the event was triggered by destabilization caused by an upper-level vortex moving over the northeast Mexican coast, a succession of upper-level processes allowed the event to become stationary over south-central Texas and produce heavy rain for several days. While the large-scale signatures of such extreme rain events evolve slowly, the many interacting processes at smaller scales make numerical forecasts highly sensitive to details of the simulations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)340-364
Number of pages25
JournalPhysical Geography
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Environmental Science
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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