Climate Dynamics

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 343–351 | Cite as

The Atlantic multidecadal oscillation and extreme daily precipitation over the US and Mexico during the hurricane season

  • Scott Curtis


The tail of the distribution of daily precipitation for August–September–October was examined over the United States and Mexico in relation to the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). As expected from previous studies linking the AMO to hurricane activity, Florida and the coastal Southeast US showed an increase in precipitation intensity when the Atlantic was in a warm phase (AMO+). Also during AMO+ Northwest Mexico was dry and exhibited a reduction of extreme events and the Mid-Atlantic Appalachian Mountains showed evidence of an increase in heavy precipitation compared to when the Atlantic was cool. It is proposed that the aforementioned decadal variations in extreme rainfall are forced by changes in the large-scale surface winds and air temperature in conjunction with the AMO. Namely, an anomalous cyclonic circulation is observed off the Southeast coast, leading to a reduction of moisture flux into the decaying North American monsoon, and an increase in moisture flux into the Mid-Atlantic. Further, the Mid-Atlantic shows a relatively strong increase in the mid-tropospheric lapse rate. Thus, the unique combination of low-level humidity, potential instability, and elevated topography are consistent with an enhanced risk of intense rainfall during AMO+.


Atlantic multidecadal oscillation Precipitation Extremes Drought Atmospheric circulation 



This work is supported by a NASA Energy and Water Cycle Study (NEWS) grant. The author would like to thank the Thomas Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University for a College Research Award, which made the study possible. The author would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Atmospheric Science Laboratory, Department of GeographyEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA

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