Thursday, June 10, 2010

Rain, Rain and More Rain...

Most of my posts this week have revolved around the heavy rain producing systems that have been traversing Texas the past few days, and one way that you can anticipate rainfall potential for a given area (by taking a look at precipitable water values).

Once an event is unfolding, there are also several tools that I like to use to monitor actual rainfall.  One is the 1-hour, 3-hour and Storm Total precipitation products generated by local NEXRAD sites.  The Storm Total Precipitation image shown below is via GRLevel3:
While NEXRAD isn't perfect at estimating rainfall, it does give you a very good idea as to where more concentrated areas of heavy precipitation are taking place.  

Another tool is to use satellite imagery as a source of precipitation estimates during an ongoing convective (thunderstorm) event.  The NOAA Satellite and Information Service (also known as the SSD - Satellite Service Division) is an excellent source of satellite based precipitation products during an ongoing event.

The SSD will issue several text and graphics-based products during an active convective/precipitation event.  Such products usually consist of a text bulletin, accompanied by a corresponding, computer/human-generated graphic.

You can also become part of the action when it comes to reporting ground-truth rainfall totals.  One such group that I'm a member of, CoCoRaHS, allows you to observe and report rain, hail and snow information on their website to share with others (including the National Weather Service) for reporting and verification.  The official CoCoRaHS rain gauge is one of the most accurate that I've ever owned.  You can purchase one here.

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