Average Recurrence Interval for Colorado, Wyoming, and Nebraska storm of July 21, 2015

The weather conditions last Tuesday, July 21, 2015, over the borders of northern Colorado, southeastern Wyoming, and western Nebraska were ripe for the formation of thunderstorms. The Weather Prediction Center (WPC) surface analysis for 21Z, or 3pm MDT, shows a high pressure system situated over western Colorado with a stationary front over the Front Range. The thunderstorms associated with this stationary front produced significant rain which caused flooding in southeastern Wyoming. The radiosonde for the morning of the 21st shows winds at the surface coming from the south and winds aloft from the west. The surface streamlines also show southerly winds originating in the Gulf of Mexico and continuing through Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. The southerly winds provided the moisture necessary to produce the magnitude of rains that occurred.
Surface Analysis 20150721

Sounding_2015072112Streamlines_2015072112

The local National Weather Service (NWS) office in Cheyenne issued a flash flood warning for southwestern Banner County and northeastern Laramie County at 1:39pm which was valid through 5:30pm. The warning was instigated by heavy rain indicated on Doppler radar. See full warning here.

 

Flood_warning_20150721

To capture this event and determine its rarity by using the state of the science POLARIS QPE, satellite data, quality controlled rain gauges, and innovative algorithms a MetStorm™ run was generated. MetStorm™ was run for a 48-hour period from July 21st at 8am through July 23rd at 8am.  MetStorm™ determined the maximum 1-hour rainfall to be an impressive 3.3″ and the maximum 24-hour raingfall to be 5.61″.

From a frequency perspective, this storm was statistically rare. MetStorm™'s Average Recurrence Interval (ARI) for the 1-hour max of 3.3" was 402.46 years, meaning that there is a 0.2% chance of receiving 3.3" in 1-hour in any given year at this location. The ARI for the 24-hour max of 5.61", on the other hand, has a return period of 728.92 years, or 0.1% of occurring on any given year. While the flooding produced by the rainfall of these storms was minor, it was still a very rare event to occur in this location. 

ARI_metstorm201527_1hr_max_ppt ARI_metstorm201527_24hr_max_ppt

Please note that the maps presented here are preliminary and will be updated when new data become available.  If you are interested in this product, or any other product from our MetStorm™ Precipitation Analysis tool, please contact us at media@metstat.com or through our contacts page at http://metstat.com/contact-us/.

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-MetStat Team