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Diagnosis of Track Forecast Errors for Tropical Cyclone Rita (2005) Using GEFS Reforecasts

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory/Physical Sciences Division, Boulder, Colorado
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Abstract

Analysis and diagnosis of the track forecasts for Tropical Cyclone (TC) Rita (2005) from the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) reforecast dataset is presented. The operational numerical weather prediction guidance and GEFS reforecasts initialized at 0000 UTC 20–22 September 2005, 2–4 days prior to landfall, were all characterized by a persistent left-of-track error. The numerical guidance indicated a significant threat of landfall for the Houston, Texas, region on 24 September. The largest mass evacuation in U.S. history was ordered, with the evacuation resulting in more fatalities than TC Rita itself. TC Rita made landfall along the Texas–Louisiana coastal zone on 24 September. This study utilizes forecasts from the GEFS reforecast and a high-resolution regional reforecast. The regional reforecast was generated using the Advanced Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting Model (AHW) with the GEFS reforecasts providing the initial and boundary conditions. The results show that TC Rita’s track was sensitive to errors in both the synoptic-scale flow and TC intensity. Within the GEFS reforecast ensemble, the nonrecurving members were characterized by a midlevel subtropical anticyclone that extended too far south and west over the southern United States, and an upper-level cutoff low west and anticyclone east of TC Rita that were too weak. The AHW regional reforecast ensemble further highlighted the role of intensity and steering-layer depth in TC Rita’s track. While the AHW forecast was initialized with a TC that was too weak, the ensemble members that were able to intensify TC Rita more rapidly produced a better track forecast because the TCs followed a deeper steering-layer flow.

Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Thomas J. Galarneau Jr., Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210081, Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail: tom.galarneau.jr@gmail.com

Abstract

Analysis and diagnosis of the track forecasts for Tropical Cyclone (TC) Rita (2005) from the Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) reforecast dataset is presented. The operational numerical weather prediction guidance and GEFS reforecasts initialized at 0000 UTC 20–22 September 2005, 2–4 days prior to landfall, were all characterized by a persistent left-of-track error. The numerical guidance indicated a significant threat of landfall for the Houston, Texas, region on 24 September. The largest mass evacuation in U.S. history was ordered, with the evacuation resulting in more fatalities than TC Rita itself. TC Rita made landfall along the Texas–Louisiana coastal zone on 24 September. This study utilizes forecasts from the GEFS reforecast and a high-resolution regional reforecast. The regional reforecast was generated using the Advanced Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting Model (AHW) with the GEFS reforecasts providing the initial and boundary conditions. The results show that TC Rita’s track was sensitive to errors in both the synoptic-scale flow and TC intensity. Within the GEFS reforecast ensemble, the nonrecurving members were characterized by a midlevel subtropical anticyclone that extended too far south and west over the southern United States, and an upper-level cutoff low west and anticyclone east of TC Rita that were too weak. The AHW regional reforecast ensemble further highlighted the role of intensity and steering-layer depth in TC Rita’s track. While the AHW forecast was initialized with a TC that was too weak, the ensemble members that were able to intensify TC Rita more rapidly produced a better track forecast because the TCs followed a deeper steering-layer flow.

Current affiliation: Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona.

The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation.

Corresponding author address: Thomas J. Galarneau Jr., Department of Atmospheric Sciences, University of Arizona, P.O. Box 210081, Tucson, AZ 85721. E-mail: tom.galarneau.jr@gmail.com
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