Atmospheric rivers (ARs) are long and narrow regions in the atmosphere of enhanced integrated water vapor transport (IVT) and can produce extreme precipitation and high societal impacts. Reliable and skillful forecasts of landfalling ARs in the western United States are critical to hazard preparation and aid in decision support activities, such as Forecast-Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO). The purpose of this study is to compare the cool-season water year skill of the NCEP Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) and ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) forecasts of IVT along the U.S. West Coast for 2017–20. The skill is analyzed using probability-over-threshold forecasts of IVT magnitudes ≥ 250 kg m−1 s−1 (P250) using contingency table skill metrics in coastal Northern California and along the west coast of North America. Analysis of P250 with lead time (dProg/dt) found that the EPS provided ∼1 day of additional lead time for situational awareness over the GEFS at lead times of 6–10 days. Forecast skill analysis highlights that the EPS leads over the GEFS with success ratios 0.10–0.15 higher at lead times > 6 days for P250 thresholds of ≥25% and ≥50%, while event-based skill analysis using the probability of detection (POD) found that both models were largely similar with minor latitudinal variations favoring higher POD for each model in different locations along the coast. The relative skill of the EPS over the GEFS is largely attributed to overforecasting by the GEFS at longer lead times and an increase in the false alarm ratio.
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the efficacy of the NCEP Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) and the ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) in forecasting enhanced water vapor transport along the U.S. West Coast commonly associated with landfalling atmospheric rivers and heavy precipitation. The ensemble models allow us to calculate the probability that enhanced water vapor transport will occur, thereby providing situational awareness for decision-making, such as in hazard mitigation and water resource management. The results of this study indicate that the EPS model is on average more skillful than the GEFS model at lead times of ∼6–10 days with a higher success ratio and lower false alarm ratio.
Cordeira’s current affiliation: Center for Western Weather and Water Extremes, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego, San Diego, California.
© 2022 American Meteorological Society. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).