The National Centers for Environmental Prediction fine-resolution four-dimensional variational (4DVAR) data assimilation system is used to study the Great Plains tornado outbreak of 3 May 1999. It was found that the 4DVAR method was able to capture very well the important precursors for the tornadic activity, such as upper- and low-level jet streaks, wind shear, humidity field, surface CAPE, and so on. It was also demonstrated that, in this particular synoptic case, characterized by fast-changing mesoscale systems, the model error adjustment played a substantial role. The experimental results suggest that the common practice of neglecting the model error in data assimilation systems may not be justified in synoptic situations similar to this one.
Current affiliation: Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado
Corresponding author address: Dusanka Zupanski, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1375. Email: email@example.com