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Impact of tropical cyclones on hydrological extremes in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States: 1950‒2019

Presentation Date
Thursday, December 16, 2021 at 4:00pm
Online Only

Understanding the spatial variability in the hydrological impact of landfalling tropical cyclones (TCs) is critical for current and future risk management of floods/droughts that occur at relatively local to watershed scale. In this context, this study examines the role of TCs in historical floods and droughts, from a climatological perspective, through analyzing the long-term (1950‒2019), spatially distributed observational datasets of hurricane tracks, precipitation, and streamflows over the Mid-Atlantic region. Despite limited contribution of TCs to annual precipitation (<9%), TCs produced the most extreme floods in the record for much of the region, and increased the magnitude of 100-year floods by up to 53%. Despite the flood risk inflicted by TCs, they played a crucial role in alleviation and termination of droughts in this region. With TCs, the dominant hydrological drought (i.e., short-term extreme drought) was reduced by up to 23% in frequency and 25% in duration. Substantial heterogeneity was observed in the distribution of TC-related precipitation and its hydrological impacts, and TC-associated flood-prone and drought-resistant areas showed spatial coherence.

Funding Program Area(s)