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An Investigation of Large Cross-Track Errors in North Atlantic Tropical Cyclones in the GEFS and ECMWF Ensembles

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  • 1 School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, Stony Brook University, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York
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Abstract

The largest medium-range (72–120 h) cross-track errors (CTE) of tropical cyclone (TC) forecasts from the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) over the northern Atlantic Ocean are examined for the 2008–16 seasons. The 38 unique forecasts within the upper quartile of most negative CTEs (i.e., left-of-track bias larger than 250 km by 72 h) do not have a clear common source of steering error, although 12 of the forecasts involve the underprediction of a weak upper-level trough to the west of the TC by 36 h. Meanwhile, at least 18 of the 36 most positive CTEs (right-of-track bias) are associated with TCs embedded in the southwest extent of a subtropical ridge, the strength of which is increasingly underpredicted during the first 24 h of the forecast. Excessive height falls north of the TC are driven by overpredicted divergence aloft, which corresponds to overpredicted TC outer-core convection. The convection is triggered by a 5%–20% overprediction of near-TC moisture and instability in the initial conditions. Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model simulations are run at 36-, 12-, and 4-km grid spacing for select right-of-track cases, using the GEFS for initial and lateral boundary conditions. The 36-km WRF reproduces the same growth of errors as the GEFS because of, in part, sharing the same stability and moisture errors in the initial conditions. Changes in the convective parameterization affect how quickly these errors grow by affecting how much convection spins up. The addition of a 4-km nest with no convective parameterization causes the errors to grow ~20% faster, resulting in an even larger right-of-track error.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Brian A. Colle, brian.colle@stonybrook.edu

Abstract

The largest medium-range (72–120 h) cross-track errors (CTE) of tropical cyclone (TC) forecasts from the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) over the northern Atlantic Ocean are examined for the 2008–16 seasons. The 38 unique forecasts within the upper quartile of most negative CTEs (i.e., left-of-track bias larger than 250 km by 72 h) do not have a clear common source of steering error, although 12 of the forecasts involve the underprediction of a weak upper-level trough to the west of the TC by 36 h. Meanwhile, at least 18 of the 36 most positive CTEs (right-of-track bias) are associated with TCs embedded in the southwest extent of a subtropical ridge, the strength of which is increasingly underpredicted during the first 24 h of the forecast. Excessive height falls north of the TC are driven by overpredicted divergence aloft, which corresponds to overpredicted TC outer-core convection. The convection is triggered by a 5%–20% overprediction of near-TC moisture and instability in the initial conditions. Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model simulations are run at 36-, 12-, and 4-km grid spacing for select right-of-track cases, using the GEFS for initial and lateral boundary conditions. The 36-km WRF reproduces the same growth of errors as the GEFS because of, in part, sharing the same stability and moisture errors in the initial conditions. Changes in the convective parameterization affect how quickly these errors grow by affecting how much convection spins up. The addition of a 4-km nest with no convective parameterization causes the errors to grow ~20% faster, resulting in an even larger right-of-track error.

© 2021 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Brian A. Colle, brian.colle@stonybrook.edu
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