Drop-Size Distribution Variations Associated with Different Storm Types in Southeast Texas Academic Article uri icon


  • Drop-size distributions (DSDs) provide important microphysical information about rainfall and are used in rainfall estimates from radar. This study utilizes a four-year DSD dataset of 163 rain events obtained using a JossWaldvogel impact disdrometer located in southeast Texas. A seasonal comparison of the DSD data shows that small (~1 mm diameter) drops occur more frequently in winter and fall, whereas summer and spring months see an increase in the relative frequency of medium and large (~>2 mm diameter) drops, with notable interannual variability in all seasons. Each rain event is classified by dynamic forcing and radar precipitation structure to more directly link environmental and storm organization properties to storm microphysics. Cold fronts and upper-level disturbances account for 80% of the rain events, whereas warm fronts, weakly forced situations, and tropical cyclones comprise the other 20%. Warm frontal storms and upper-level disturbances have smaller drops compared to the climatological DSD for southeast Texas, whereas the more dynamically vigorous cold fronts and weakly forced environments have larger drops. Tropical cyclones generally produce smaller drops than the climatology, but their DSD anomalies are sensitive to what part of the storm is sampled. Regardless of dynamic forcing, storms with precipitation structures that are mostly deep convective or stratiform rain formed from deep convection have larger drops, whereas stratiform rain formed from non-deep convection has smaller drops. Reflectivity-rain rate (Z-R) relationships that account for dynamic forcing and precipitation structures improve rainfall estimates compared to climatological Z-R relationships despite a wide spread in Z-R relationships by storm.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Hopper, L., Schumacher, C., Humes, K., & Funk, A.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Hopper, Larry J Jr||Schumacher, Courtney||Humes, Karen||Funk, Aaron

publication date

  • December 2020