Keellings, D., A. J. Hernandez. 2019. Extreme rainfall associated with Hurricane Maria over Puerto Rico and its connections to climate variability and change . Geophysical Research Letters 46(5): 2964-2973. doi: 10.1029/2019GL082077.
Hurricane Maria was associated with record‐breaking rainfall over Puerto Rico and caused unprecedented flooding and landslides. Here we analyze the extreme rainfall produced by Hurricane Maria using 35 stations with daily precipitation data from 1956–2016. A covariate‐based extreme value analysis point process approach that accounts for natural climate variability and long‐term climate change influences on extreme rainfall is applied. Hurricane Maria produced the single largest maximum rainfall event since 1956 and had the highest total averaged precipitation of 129 storms that have impacted the island since 1956. Return periods for an event of Hurricane Maria’s precipitation magnitude decreased in 48.6% of stations across Puerto Rico and at least halved when averaged across the island. Within the most affected areas it is likely that the probability of precipitation of Maria’s magnitude has increased by a factor greater than 1 (best estimate 4.85) as a result of long‐term climate trends.