Document Type


Publication Date

December 2014


In Part I of this paper, the optimal ranking regime (ORR) method was used to identify intradecadal to multidecadal (IMD) regimes in U.S. climate division temperature data during 1896–2012. Here, the method is used to test for annual and seasonal precipitation regimes during that same period. Water-year mean streamflow rankings at 125 U.S. Hydro-Climatic Data Network gauge stations are also evaluated during 1939–2011. The precipitation and streamflow regimes identified are compared with ORR-derived regimes in the Pacific decadal oscillation (PDO), the Atlantic multidecadal oscillation (AMO), and indices derived from gridded SST anomaly (SSTA) analysis data. Using a graphic display approach that allows for the comparison of IMD climate regimes in multiple time series, an interdecadal cycle in western precipitation is apparent after 1980, as is a similar cycle in northwestern streamflow. Before 1980, IMD regimes in northwestern streamflow and annual precipitation are in approximate antiphase with the PDO. One of the clearest IMD climate signals found in this analysis are post-1970 wet regimes in eastern U.S streamflow and annual precipitation, as well as in fall [September–November (SON)] precipitation. Pearson correlations between time series of annual and seasonal precipitation averaged over the eastern United States and SSTA analysis data show relatively extensive positive correlations between warming tropical SSTA and increasing fall precipitation. The possible Pacific and northern Atlantic roots of the recent eastern U.S. wet regime, as well as the general characteristics of U.S. climate variability in recent decades that emerge from this analysis and that of Part I, are discussed.


This article originally appeared in Journal of Climate in Volume 27 and can be found online at this link

© Copyright 2014 American Meteorological Society (AMS). Permission to use figures, tables, and brief excerpts from this work in scientific and educational works is hereby granted provided that the source is acknowledged. Any use of material in this work that is determined to be “fair use” under Section 107 of the U.S. Copyright Act September 2010 Page 2 or that satisfies the conditions specified in Section 108 of the U.S. Copyright Act (17 USC §108, as revised by P.L. 94-553) does not require the AMS’s permission. Republication, systematic reproduction, posting in electronic form, such as on a web site or in a searchable database, or other uses of this material, except as exempted by the above statement, requires written permission or a license from the AMS. Additional details are provided in the AMS Copyright Policy, available on the AMS Web site located at ( or from the AMS at 617-227-2425 or