Two methods for assimilating radar reflectivity into deterministic convection-allowing forecasts were compared: an operationally used, computationally less expensive cloud analysis (CA) scheme and a relatively more expensive, but rigorous, ensemble Kalman filter–variational hybrid method (EnVar). These methods were implemented in the Nonhydrostatic Multiscale Model on the B-grid and were tested on 10 cases featuring high-impact deep convective storms and heavy precipitation. A variety of traditional, neighborhood-based, and features-based verification metrics support that the EnVar produced superior free forecasts compared to the CA procedure, with statistically significant differences extending up to 9 h into the forecast. Despite being inferior, the CA scheme was able to provide benefit compared to not assimilating radar reflectivity at all, but limited to the first few forecast hours. While the EnVar is able to partially suppress spurious convection by assimilating 0-dBZ reflectivity observations directly, the CA is not designed to reduce or remove hydrometeors. As a result, the CA struggles more with suppression of spurious convection in the first-guess field, which resulted in high-frequency biases and poor forecast evolution, as illustrated in a few case studies. Additionally, while the EnVar uses flow-dependent ensemble covariances to update hydrometers, thermodynamic, and dynamic variables simultaneously when the reflectivity is assimilated, the CA relies on a radar reflectivity-derived latent heating rate that is applied during a separate digital filter initialization (DFI) procedure to introduce deep convective storms into the model, and the results of CA are shown to be sensitive to the window length used in the DFI.
© 2019 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).