Climatology of extreme daily precipitation in Colorado and its diverse spatial and seasonal variability

Journal of Hydrometeorology
By: , and 



The climatology of Colorado’s historical extreme precipitation events shows a remarkable degree of seasonal and regional variability. Analysis of the largest historical daily precipitation totals at COOP stations across Colorado by season indicates that the largest recorded daily precipitation totals have ranged from less than 60 mm day−1 in some areas to more than 250 mm day−1 in others. East of the Continental Divide, winter events are rarely among the top 10 events at a given site, but spring events dominate in and near the foothills; summer events are most common across the lower-elevation eastern plains, while fall events are most typical for the lower elevations west of the Divide. The seasonal signal in Colorado’s central mountains is complex; high-elevation intense precipitation events have occurred in all months of the year, including summer, when precipitation is more likely to be liquid (as opposed to snow), which poses more of an instantaneous flood risk. Notably, the historic Colorado Front Range daily rainfall totals that contributed to the damaging floods in September 2013 occurred outside of that region’s typical season for most extreme precipitation (spring–summer). That event and many others highlight the fact that extreme precipitation in Colorado has occurred historically during all seasons and at all elevations, emphasizing a year-round statewide risk.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Climatology of extreme daily precipitation in Colorado and its diverse spatial and seasonal variability
Series title Journal of Hydrometeorology
DOI 10.1175/JHM-D-14-0112.1
Volume 16
Issue 2
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher American Meteorological Society
Publisher location Boston, MA
Contributing office(s) National Research Program - Western Branch
Description 12 p.
First page 781
Last page 792
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details