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Application of the NCEP Ensemble Prediction System to Medium-Range Forecasting in South Africa: New Products, Benefits, and Challenges

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  • 1 South African Weather Service, Pretoria, South Africa
  • | 2 National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Camp Springs, Maryland
  • | 3 South African Weather Service, Pretoria, South Africa
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Abstract

The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Ensemble Forecasting System (EFS) is used operationally in South Africa for medium-range forecasts up to 14 days ahead. The use of model-generated probability forecasts has a clear benefit in the skill of the 1–7-day forecasts. This is seen in the forecast probability distribution being more successful in spanning the observed space than a single deterministic forecast and, thus, substantially reducing the instances of missed events in the forecast. In addition, the probability forecasts generated using the EFS are particularly useful in estimating confidence in forecasts. During the second week of the forecast the EFS is used as a heads-up for possible synoptic-scale events and also for predicting average weather conditions and probability density distributions of some elements such as maximum temperature and wind. This paper assesses the medium-range forecast process and the application of the NCEP EFS at the South African Weather Service. It includes a description of the various medium-range products, adaptive bias-correction methods applied to the forecasts, verification of the forecast products, and a discussion on the various challenges that face researchers and forecasters alike.

Corresponding author address: Warren J. Tennant, South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Pretoria 0001, South Africa. Email: warren.tennant@weathersa.co.za

Abstract

The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Ensemble Forecasting System (EFS) is used operationally in South Africa for medium-range forecasts up to 14 days ahead. The use of model-generated probability forecasts has a clear benefit in the skill of the 1–7-day forecasts. This is seen in the forecast probability distribution being more successful in spanning the observed space than a single deterministic forecast and, thus, substantially reducing the instances of missed events in the forecast. In addition, the probability forecasts generated using the EFS are particularly useful in estimating confidence in forecasts. During the second week of the forecast the EFS is used as a heads-up for possible synoptic-scale events and also for predicting average weather conditions and probability density distributions of some elements such as maximum temperature and wind. This paper assesses the medium-range forecast process and the application of the NCEP EFS at the South African Weather Service. It includes a description of the various medium-range products, adaptive bias-correction methods applied to the forecasts, verification of the forecast products, and a discussion on the various challenges that face researchers and forecasters alike.

Corresponding author address: Warren J. Tennant, South African Weather Service, Private Bag X097, Pretoria 0001, South Africa. Email: warren.tennant@weathersa.co.za

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