Influences of upper air characteristics along the coast of California upon wintertime (November-April) precipitation in the Sierra Nevada are investigated. Precipitation events in the Sierra Nevada region occur mostly during wintertime, irrespective of station location (leeside or wihdside) and elevation. Most precipitation episodes in the region are associated with moist southwesterly winds (coming from the southwest direction) and also tend to occur when the 700-mbar temperature at the upwind direction is close to -2??C. This favored wind direction and temperature signify the importance of both moisture transport and orographic lifting in augmenting precipitation in the region. By utilizing the observed dependency of the precipitation upon the upper air conditions, a linear model is formulated to quantify the precipitation observed at different sites as a function of moisture transport. The skill of the model increases with timescale of aggregation, reaching more than 50% variance explained at an aggregation period of 5-7 days. This indicates that upstream air moisture transport can be used to estimate the precipitation totals in the Sierra Nevada region. Copyright 1999 by the American Geophysical Union.
Additional publication details
Precipitation structure in the Sierra Nevada of California during winter