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The Impact of Large-Scale Forcing on Skill of Simulated Convective Initiation and Upscale Evolution with Convection-Allowing Grid Spacings in the WRF

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  • 1 Department of Geological and Atmospheric Science, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa
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Abstract

A set of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) was simulated using the Weather Research and Forecasting model with 3-km grid spacing to investigate the skill at predicting convective initiation and upscale evolution into an MCS. Precipitation was verified using equitable threat scores (ETSs), the neighborhood-based fractions skill score (FSS), and the Method of Object-Based Diagnostic Evaluation. An illustrative case study more closely examines the strong influence that smaller-scale forcing features had on convective initiation.

Initiation errors for the 36 cases were in the south-southwest direction on average, with a mean absolute displacement error of 105 km. No systematic temporal error existed, as the errors were approximately normally distributed. Despite earlier findings that quantitative precipitation forecast skill in convection-parameterizing simulations is a function of the strength of large-scale forcing, this relationship was not present in the present study for convective initiation. However, upscale evolution was better predicted for more strongly forced events according to ETSs and FSSs. For the upscale evolution, the relationship between ETSs and object-based ratings was poor. There was also little correspondence between object-based ratings and the skill at convective initiation. The lack of a relationship between the strength of large-scale forcing and model skill at forecasting initiation is likely due to a combination of factors, including the strong role of small-scale features that exert an influence on initiation, and potential errors in the analyses used to represent observations. The limit of predictability of individual convective storms on a 3-km grid must also be considered.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-13-00005.s1.

Current affiliation: University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.

Corresponding author address: Jeff Duda, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, National Weather Center, Rm. 2500, 120 David Boren Blvd., Norman, OK 73072-7309. E-mail: jeffduda319@gmail.com

Abstract

A set of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) was simulated using the Weather Research and Forecasting model with 3-km grid spacing to investigate the skill at predicting convective initiation and upscale evolution into an MCS. Precipitation was verified using equitable threat scores (ETSs), the neighborhood-based fractions skill score (FSS), and the Method of Object-Based Diagnostic Evaluation. An illustrative case study more closely examines the strong influence that smaller-scale forcing features had on convective initiation.

Initiation errors for the 36 cases were in the south-southwest direction on average, with a mean absolute displacement error of 105 km. No systematic temporal error existed, as the errors were approximately normally distributed. Despite earlier findings that quantitative precipitation forecast skill in convection-parameterizing simulations is a function of the strength of large-scale forcing, this relationship was not present in the present study for convective initiation. However, upscale evolution was better predicted for more strongly forced events according to ETSs and FSSs. For the upscale evolution, the relationship between ETSs and object-based ratings was poor. There was also little correspondence between object-based ratings and the skill at convective initiation. The lack of a relationship between the strength of large-scale forcing and model skill at forecasting initiation is likely due to a combination of factors, including the strong role of small-scale features that exert an influence on initiation, and potential errors in the analyses used to represent observations. The limit of predictability of individual convective storms on a 3-km grid must also be considered.

Supplemental information related to this paper is available at the Journals Online website: http://dx.doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-13-00005.s1.

Current affiliation: University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma.

Corresponding author address: Jeff Duda, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms, University of Oklahoma, National Weather Center, Rm. 2500, 120 David Boren Blvd., Norman, OK 73072-7309. E-mail: jeffduda319@gmail.com

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