Evaluation of NEXRAD Stage III precipitation data over a semiarid region

Hongjie Xie, Xiaobing Zhou, Jan M.H. Hendrickx, Enrique R. Vivoni, Huade Guan, Yong Q. Tian, Eric E. Small

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


This study examines NEXRAD Stage III product (hourly, cell size 4 km by 4 km) for its ability in estimating precipitation in central New Mexico, a semiarid area. A comparison between Stage III and a network of gauge precipitation estimates during 1995 to 2001 indicates that Stage III (1) overestimates the hourly conditional mean (CM) precipitation by 33 percent in the monsoon season and 55 percent in the nonmonsoon season; (2) overestimates the hourly CM precipitation for concurrent radar-gauge pairs (nonzero value) by 13 percent in the monsoon season and 6 percent in the nonmonsoon season; (3) overestimates the seasonal precipitation accumulation by 11 to 88 percent in monsoon season and underestimates by 18 to 89 percent in the nonmonsoon season; and (4) either overestimates annual precipitation accumulation up to 28.2 percent or underestimates it up to 11.9 percent. A truncation of 57 to 72 percent of the total rainfall hours is observed in the Stage III data in the nonmonsoon season, which may be the main cause for both the underestimation of the radar rainfall accumulation and the lower conditional probability of radar rainfall detection in the nonmonsoon season. The study results indicate that the truncation caused loss of small rainfall amounts (events) is not effectively corrected by the real-time rain gauge calibration that can adjust the rainfall rates but cannot recover the truncated small rainfall events. However, the truncation error in the monsoon season may be suppressed due to the larger rainfall rate and/or combined effect of overestimates by bright band and hail contaminations, virga, advection, etc. In general, improvement in NEXRAD performance since the monsoon season in 1998 is observed, which is consistent with the systematic improvement in the NEXRAD network. JAWRA

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)237-256
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of the American Water Resources Association
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Precipitation
  • Rain gauge
  • Statistics
  • Time series analysis
  • Truncation error

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology
  • Water Science and Technology
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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