Results of Monthly and Seasonal Gauge vs. Radar Rainfall Comparisons in the Texas Panhandle


  • William L Woodley Woodley Weather Consultants Littleton, CO
  • Roni Drori Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem
  • Daniel Rosenfeld Hebrew University of Jerusalem Jerusalem
  • Scott Orr High Plains Underground Water Conservation District Lubbock, Texas
  • George Bomar Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission Austin, Texas


Gauge and radar estimates of monthly and seasonal (April-September in 1999 and 2000) convective rainfall were compared for a large network in the Texas Panhandle. In 2000, the network, covering approximately 3.6 x 10^4 km^2 (1.4 x 10^4 mi^2), contained 505 fence-post rain gauges with individual, subterranean, collector reservoirs at a density of one gage per 72 km^2 (29 mi^2). These were read monthly to produce area-averaged rain totals, obtained by dividing the gauge sums by the number of gauges in the network. The gauges were not read in September 2000 because of negligible rainfall. Comparable radar-estimated rainfalls for the same time periods were generated using merged, basescan, 15-min, NEXRAD radar reflectivity data supplied by the National Weather Service through WSI, Inc. and the Global Hydrology Resource Center. The gauges vs. radar comparisons were made on the basis of rain patterning and area averages. The Z-R relationship used to relate radar reflectivity (Z) to rainfall rate (R) Z = 300R^1.4, which is the equation used in standard NEXRAD practice. Because all of the rain gauges could not be read on a single day, the gauges do not provide an absolute basis of reference for comparison with the radar estimates, which were made in time periods that matched the average date of the gauge readings. The gauge and radar monthly rain patterns agreed in most instances, although the agreement in August 2000 was poor. The monthly correlations of gauge and radar rain amounts were 0.86 in 1999, 0.96 in 2000 and 0.93 for the two years combined. The radar tended to underestimate heavy rain months and overestimate those with light rain. The radar overestimate for months with light rain may be due to evaporative losses beneath the level of the radar scan as the drops fell through dry air to the ground. The period of comparison affected the results. The area-average gauge vs. radar comparisons made on a monthly basis agreed to within 20% on 5 of the 11 months.




Scientific Papers