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Spatial Forecasts of Maximum Hail Size Using Prognostic Model Soundings and HAILCAST

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  • 1 Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • | 2 Prairie and Northern Region, Meteorological Service of Canada, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
  • | 3 Weather Modification Inc., Fargo, North Dakota
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Abstract

Forecasting the occurrence of hail and the maximum hail size is a challenging problem. This paper investigates the feasibility of producing maps of the forecast maximum hail size over the Canadian prairies using 12-h prognostic soundings from an operational NWP model as input for a numerical hail growth model. Specifically, the Global Environmental Multiscale model run by the Canadian Meteorological Center is used to provide the initial data for the HAILCAST model on a 0.5° × 0.5° grid. Maps depicting maximum hail size for the Canadian prairies are generated for 0000 UTC for each day from 1 June to 31 August 2000. The forecast hail-size maps are compared with radar-derived vertically integrated liquid data over southern Alberta and surface hail reports. Verification statistics suggest that the forecast technique is skillful at identifying the occurrence of a hail day versus no-hail day up to 12 h in advance. The technique is also skillful at predicting the main threat areas. The maximum diameter of the hailstones is generally forecast quite accurately when compared with surface observations. However, the technique displays limited skill when forecasting the distribution of hail on a small spatial scale.

Corresponding author address: Julian Charles Brimelow, Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E3, Canada. Email: brimelow@ualberta.ca

Abstract

Forecasting the occurrence of hail and the maximum hail size is a challenging problem. This paper investigates the feasibility of producing maps of the forecast maximum hail size over the Canadian prairies using 12-h prognostic soundings from an operational NWP model as input for a numerical hail growth model. Specifically, the Global Environmental Multiscale model run by the Canadian Meteorological Center is used to provide the initial data for the HAILCAST model on a 0.5° × 0.5° grid. Maps depicting maximum hail size for the Canadian prairies are generated for 0000 UTC for each day from 1 June to 31 August 2000. The forecast hail-size maps are compared with radar-derived vertically integrated liquid data over southern Alberta and surface hail reports. Verification statistics suggest that the forecast technique is skillful at identifying the occurrence of a hail day versus no-hail day up to 12 h in advance. The technique is also skillful at predicting the main threat areas. The maximum diameter of the hailstones is generally forecast quite accurately when compared with surface observations. However, the technique displays limited skill when forecasting the distribution of hail on a small spatial scale.

Corresponding author address: Julian Charles Brimelow, Dept. of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, T6G 2E3, Canada. Email: brimelow@ualberta.ca

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