Relationship between tropical easterly waves and precipitation during the North American monsoon

William C. Ladwig, David J. Stensrud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Relationships between tropical easterly waves (TEWs) and precipitation over Mexico and the United States are examined during the North American monsoon (NAM). The National Centers for Environmental Prediction-National Center for Atmospheric Research reanalysis data are used to identify 137 TEWs that cross Mexico north of 20°N after monsoon onset over a 31-yr period from 1975 to 2005. Mean precipitation anomalies over two-day periods both before and after TEW passage are determined using Climate Prediction Center daily precipitation analyses. Results indicate that positive precipitation anomalies occur along the west coast of Mexico and extending into the west-central United States in association with TEW passage. Negative precipitation anomalies are found in the south-central United States. These precipitation anomaly patterns share many similarities to precipitation anomaly patterns previously defined in association with gulf surge events. On longer time scales, correlations between the total number of these northern TEWs crossing Mexico and 90-day monsoon period precipitation anomalies are also examined. An out-of-phase relationship is found between monsoon period precipitation anomalies in the southwestern and south-central United States, suggesting that increasing the number of northern TEWs crossing Mexico leads to enhanced monsoon period rainfall in Arizona and New Mexico and reduced monsoon period rainfall in Texas and Oklahoma. Thus, these northern TEWs likely play an important role in producing the distribution of precipitation throughout the NAM region and the south-central United States during the monsoon season, and extended-range predictions of northern TEW frequency may lead to improved seasonal rainfall anomaly forecasts in these regions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)258-271
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Climate
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 15 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science


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