Heavy February Rainfall


Bermuda Weather Service Radar showing moderate to heavy rain stalled over Bermuda. Friday, February 15th, 2013 12:13pm local time.
Bermuda Weather Service Radar showing moderate to heavy rain stalled over Bermuda. Friday, February 15th, 2013 12:13pm local time.

In what was perhaps the wettest single February day on record, 3.29″ of rain fell at the Bermuda Weather Service office at the airport on Friday the 15th of February. Certainly in the last decade, no single day’s precipitation totalled more than 3″ in February.

Rainfall totals of this magnitude are typically reserved for Spring, Summer, and Autumn when deep tropical maritime air masses interact with slow moving fronts or tropical cyclones pass nearby. Another unusual characteristic of this event was that it largely occurred along a slow moving warm front so rainfall rates weren’t that extreme for a prolonged period of time. Despite this, there were some bursts that did generally reach 2-4″/hr.

Few reports of flooding came in. They were limited to ponding on the roadways in low lying areas. The bulk of the heavy rain fell as tides were receding which may have helped in keeping flooding to a minimum. Of course, the tides combined with the relative drought – at this point Bermuda was in a year to date deficit of about 4.5″ (an entire month’s worth). This departure from normal was almost entirely erased by this rainfall event. Although we are no longer in a short term meteorological drought, longer term hydrological and agricultural implications may still exist from the drought of the last few years.  However, this continues the trend of the bulk of the precipitation falling all at once. This is something that I will look into in further detail in a future post.

My Personal Weather Station observed 3.10″ of rain. Similar rainfall totals likely occurred across the island – this event was more regional than local because of its origins along a slow moving front, and the precipitation being derived more from regional scale mechanical lifting along that front, than convective lifting which can be more chaotic.

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