The 4 June 1999 Derecho Event: A Particularly Difficult Challenge for Numerical Weather Prediction

William A. Gallus Jr. Department of Geological and Atmospheric Science, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

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James Correia Jr. Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

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Isidora Jankov Department of Geological and Atmospheric Science, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa

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Abstract

Warm season convective system rainfall forecasts remain a particularly difficult forecast challenge. For these events, it is possible that ensemble forecasts would provide helpful information unavailable in a single deterministic forecast. In this study, an intense derecho event accompanied by a well-organized band of heavy rainfall is used to show that for some situations, the predictability of rainfall even within a 12–24-h period is so low that a wide range of simulations using different models, different physical parameterizations, and different initial conditions all fail to provide even a small signal that the event will occur. The failure of a wide range of models and parameterizations to depict the event might suggest inadequate representation of the initial conditions. However, a range of different initial conditions also failed to lead to a well-simulated event, suggesting that some events are unlikely to be predictable with the current observational network, and ensemble guidance for such cases may provide limited additional information useful to a forecaster.

Corresponding author address: William A. Gallus Jr., Dept. of Geological and Atmospheric Science, Iowa State University, 3025 Agronomy Hall, Ames, IA 50011. Email: wgallus@iastate.edu

Abstract

Warm season convective system rainfall forecasts remain a particularly difficult forecast challenge. For these events, it is possible that ensemble forecasts would provide helpful information unavailable in a single deterministic forecast. In this study, an intense derecho event accompanied by a well-organized band of heavy rainfall is used to show that for some situations, the predictability of rainfall even within a 12–24-h period is so low that a wide range of simulations using different models, different physical parameterizations, and different initial conditions all fail to provide even a small signal that the event will occur. The failure of a wide range of models and parameterizations to depict the event might suggest inadequate representation of the initial conditions. However, a range of different initial conditions also failed to lead to a well-simulated event, suggesting that some events are unlikely to be predictable with the current observational network, and ensemble guidance for such cases may provide limited additional information useful to a forecaster.

Corresponding author address: William A. Gallus Jr., Dept. of Geological and Atmospheric Science, Iowa State University, 3025 Agronomy Hall, Ames, IA 50011. Email: wgallus@iastate.edu

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