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Mesoscale Model Simulations of Three Heavy Precipitation Events in the Western Mediterranean Region

Romualdo RomeroMeteorology Group, Department of Physics, University of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

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Clemente RamisMeteorology Group, Department of Physics, University of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

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Sergio AlonsoMeteorology Group, Department of Physics, University of the Balearic Islands, Palma de Mallorca, Spain

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Charles A. Doswell IIINOAA/ERL National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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David J. StensrudNOAA/ERL National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma

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Abstract

A mesoscale numerical model with parameterized moist convection is applied to three cases involving heavy rainfall in the western Mediterranean region. Forecast precipitation fields, although not perfect when compared to the observations of rainfall, appear to have sufficient information to be considered useful forecasting guidance. The results illustrate that a good simulation for this type of event in a region with complex topography is strongly dependent on a good initialization and prediction of the low-level flow and water vapor distribution.

For two of the cases that have a marked synoptic-scale contribution, the simulations give reasonably accurate predictions of the precipitation distribution, although the amounts are generally underestimated. The third case exhibits relatively subtle synoptic-scale forcing and is dominated by isolated convective storms (mostly over the sea) that also produced severe thunderstorms (including tornadoes), and the prediction of precipitation is not as promising. Overall, the results are encouraging in terms of potential application of mesoscale models operationally in the western Mediterranean region. Additional experiments beyond the “control” simulations have been performed to isolate the influence of orography and water vapor flux from the Mediterranean Sea on the model simulations. This factor separation indicates that both effects can be important contributors to a successful forecast. Suggestions are offered for future efforts in pursuing the application of mesoscale models to this forecast problem.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Charles A. Doswell III, National Severe Storms Laboratory, 1313 Halley Circle, Norman, OK 73069.

Email: doswell@nssl.noaa.gov

Abstract

A mesoscale numerical model with parameterized moist convection is applied to three cases involving heavy rainfall in the western Mediterranean region. Forecast precipitation fields, although not perfect when compared to the observations of rainfall, appear to have sufficient information to be considered useful forecasting guidance. The results illustrate that a good simulation for this type of event in a region with complex topography is strongly dependent on a good initialization and prediction of the low-level flow and water vapor distribution.

For two of the cases that have a marked synoptic-scale contribution, the simulations give reasonably accurate predictions of the precipitation distribution, although the amounts are generally underestimated. The third case exhibits relatively subtle synoptic-scale forcing and is dominated by isolated convective storms (mostly over the sea) that also produced severe thunderstorms (including tornadoes), and the prediction of precipitation is not as promising. Overall, the results are encouraging in terms of potential application of mesoscale models operationally in the western Mediterranean region. Additional experiments beyond the “control” simulations have been performed to isolate the influence of orography and water vapor flux from the Mediterranean Sea on the model simulations. This factor separation indicates that both effects can be important contributors to a successful forecast. Suggestions are offered for future efforts in pursuing the application of mesoscale models to this forecast problem.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Charles A. Doswell III, National Severe Storms Laboratory, 1313 Halley Circle, Norman, OK 73069.

Email: doswell@nssl.noaa.gov

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