Southeastern Section–56th Annual Meeting (29–30 March 2007)

Paper No. 5
Presentation Time: 1:00 PM-5:00 PM


RAMSAY, Daniel B., Geology, Berry College, Mount Berry, GA 30149 and JOVANELLY, Tamie J., Geology, Berry College, P.O. Box 495036, Rome, GA 30149-5036,

The goal of this study is to determine if minimal elevation changes (~275 m) affect the distribution patterns of precipitation along Lavender Mountain, located on Berry College campus. The rain shadow effect has been extensively studied in the western United States, but little research explores precipitation patterns along the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.

Our data collection begins with measuring rainfall up and over Lavender Mountain. An east to west transect of 12 rain gauges were installed over a 6.1 km distance. The rain gauges start at the base of Lavender Mountain at 225 msl and are placed in increments of increasing elevation (~ every 46 msl) along the slope of the ridge. The gauges are monitored after each precipitation event. A weather station on campus provides comparison data such as pressure, wind speed and direction, and relative humidity.

The preliminary data collected in this study identifies how local precipitation patterns and localized changes in topography are related. It may be discovered that while westerly winds cause moisture lift and possibly enhance rainfall on the western side, the topographic relief of the mountain is not enough to produce a localized rain-shadow effect on the eastern side. Also, relationships between elevation and precipitation may depend strongly on the wind direction for a particular storm.

Continued research on the climatic influence of small-scale topographical features in the Appalachians will aid in forecasters' abilities to predict local weather more accurately. Application of the data collected in this study to a space-time model will explore the linking of precipitation patterns to the physical causes which produce them. More precise knowledge of precipitation patterns surrounding mountain ranges would also benefit local farmers as well as water management planners.