Increased fall precipitation in the southeastern US driven by higher-intensity, frontal precipitation

Bishop, Daniel Alexander; Williams, A. Park; Seager, Richard

During 1895‐2018, fall precipitation increased by nearly 40% in the southeastern United States north of the Gulf of Mexico due to increased circulation around the western North Atlantic Subtropical High, which enhanced moisture transports into the region. We find here that these increases in southeastern U.S. fall precipitation manifested almost entirely as increases in precipitation intensity, not frequency. Further, the enhanced moisture transports increased precipitation totals far more on the highest‐intensity precipitation days than on the lower‐intensity days, leading to nearly all of the increase to be delivered on extreme (top‐5% intensity) precipitation days. Eighty‐seven percent of the fall precipitation increase was driven by non‐tropical storms (mostly frontal), not tropical cyclones, though the proportion of precipitation falling as either storm type did not change. Further research is needed to evaluate whether these observed precipitation increases are likely to continue, stabilize, or reverse.

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Geophysical Research Letters