The Impact of Storm Tracks on Warm-Season Precipitation in the Midwest: Contrasting the 1988 Drought and 1993 Flood

Author(s): Timothy Paul Eichler and Zaitao Pan
Date of Publication: January 2016

To assess the role of cyclone tracks in contributing to floods and droughts, we highlight the role of midlatitude cyclones played in the 1988 drought and the 1993 flood. Our results demonstrate that the 1988 drought featured a poleward-displaced cyclone track with a reduced role for cyclone-induced precipitation, especially in the spring of 1988. The 1993 flood featured a cyclone track from Mexico northeast to Missouri in the spring, while the summer featured two cyclone tracks: one in the southwestern US and the other across Canada linked to the right-entrance and left-exit regions of a strong 200 hPa Jetstream across the upper Midwest. Enhanced 850 hPa inflow from the Caribbean northeast to the Midwest with high precipitable water values occurred in conjunction with the right entrance portion of the 200 hPa Jetstream. Linking storm tracks and the 200 hPa Jetstream to a storm-rain index for the Midwest showed that these extreme events conformed to features of the general circulation normally associated with wet/dry episodes in the warm half of the year. Although El Niño did not play a role in the 1993 flood, the 1988 drought was associated with a poleward displacement of cyclone tracks in response to La Niña.

Citation: Eichler, T.P., & Pan, Z. (2016). The impact of storm tracks on warm-season precipitation in the midwest: Contrasting the 1988 drought and 1993 flood. Advances in Meteorology, 2016.
Team(s): Climate Team