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Ensemble Probabilistic Forecasts of a Tornadic Mesoscale Convective System from Ensemble Kalman Filter Analyses Using WSR-88D and CASA Radar Data

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  • 1 School of Meteorology, and Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 2 Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma
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Abstract

This study examines the ability of a storm-scale numerical weather prediction (NWP) model to predict precipitation and mesovortices within a tornadic mesoscale convective system that occurred over Oklahoma on 8–9 May 2007, when the model is initialized from ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) analyses including data from four Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) X-band and five Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) S-band radars. Ensemble forecasts are performed and probabilistic forecast products generated, focusing on prediction of radar reflectivity (a proxy of quantitative precipitation) and mesovortices (an indication of tornado potential).

Assimilating data from both the CASA and WSR-88D radars for the ensemble and using a mixed-microphysics ensemble during data assimilation produces the best probabilistic mesovortex forecast. The use of multiple microphysics schemes within the ensemble aims to address at least partially the model physics uncertainty and effectively plays a role of flow-dependent inflation (in precipitation regions) during EnKF data assimilation. The ensemble predicts with high probability (approximately 0.65) the near-surface mesovortex associated with the first of three reported tornadoes. Though a bias toward stronger precipitation is noted in the ensemble forecasts, all experiments produce skillful probabilistic forecasts of radar reflectivity on a 0–3-h time scale as evaluated by multiple probabilistic verification metrics. These results suggest that both the inclusion of CASA radar data and use of a mixed-microphysics ensemble during EnKF data assimilation positively impact the skill of 2–3-h ensemble forecasts of mesovortices, despite having little impact on the quality of precipitation forecasts (analyzed in terms of predicted radar reflectivity), and are important steps toward an operational EnKF-based ensemble analysis and probabilistic forecast system to support convective-scale warn-on-forecast operations.

Corresponding author address: Nathan Snook, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, 120 David Boren Blvd., Room 4104, Norman, OK 73072. E-mail: nsnook@ou.edu

Abstract

This study examines the ability of a storm-scale numerical weather prediction (NWP) model to predict precipitation and mesovortices within a tornadic mesoscale convective system that occurred over Oklahoma on 8–9 May 2007, when the model is initialized from ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) analyses including data from four Engineering Research Center for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA) X-band and five Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) S-band radars. Ensemble forecasts are performed and probabilistic forecast products generated, focusing on prediction of radar reflectivity (a proxy of quantitative precipitation) and mesovortices (an indication of tornado potential).

Assimilating data from both the CASA and WSR-88D radars for the ensemble and using a mixed-microphysics ensemble during data assimilation produces the best probabilistic mesovortex forecast. The use of multiple microphysics schemes within the ensemble aims to address at least partially the model physics uncertainty and effectively plays a role of flow-dependent inflation (in precipitation regions) during EnKF data assimilation. The ensemble predicts with high probability (approximately 0.65) the near-surface mesovortex associated with the first of three reported tornadoes. Though a bias toward stronger precipitation is noted in the ensemble forecasts, all experiments produce skillful probabilistic forecasts of radar reflectivity on a 0–3-h time scale as evaluated by multiple probabilistic verification metrics. These results suggest that both the inclusion of CASA radar data and use of a mixed-microphysics ensemble during EnKF data assimilation positively impact the skill of 2–3-h ensemble forecasts of mesovortices, despite having little impact on the quality of precipitation forecasts (analyzed in terms of predicted radar reflectivity), and are important steps toward an operational EnKF-based ensemble analysis and probabilistic forecast system to support convective-scale warn-on-forecast operations.

Corresponding author address: Nathan Snook, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, 120 David Boren Blvd., Room 4104, Norman, OK 73072. E-mail: nsnook@ou.edu
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