Frequency analysis of the 7-8 December 2010 extreme precipitation in the Panama Canal Watershed

TitleFrequency analysis of the 7-8 December 2010 extreme precipitation in the Panama Canal Watershed
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2013
AuthorsShamir E, Georgakakos KP, Murphy MJ
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Date Published2013/02
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0022-1694
Accession NumberWOS:000315008300012
Keywordsatlantic; caribbean rainfall; Catastrophic event; Extreme value analysis; Generalized Extreme Value distribution; Generalized Pareto distribution; Panama Canal Watershed

The 7-8 December 2010 rainfall event in Panama produced record rainfall and streamflow that are about twice as much as for the previously observed large event in record, In this study we ask whether before the occurrence of this rainfall event, a return period estimate using the historical record and the commonly used statistical asymptotic distributions of extreme values could have indicated that such an event is probable. We examined the daily and 24-h mean areal rainfall over the entire Panama Canal Watershed with the Generalized Extreme Value, Gumbel, and Generalized Pareto distributions using the maximum likelihood approach for the parameter and uncertainty bounds estimation. We found that the solutions that maximized the log likelihood for these three distributions yield return period estimates that are larger than 2000 years. These return periods imply that the 2010 rainfall event was practically unforeseen. It is only the careful implementation of these distributions with full uncertainty analysis to define confidence intervals that yields estimates of return periods with substantial probabilities for such an event to occur. The GEV was found to be the most adequate distribution for this analysis, and the commonly-used Gumbel distribution, although indicated a good fit to the annual maxima series, attributed an extremely low probability for the occurrence of this event. (C) 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Short TitleJ. Hydrol.
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