Subseasonal Potential Predictability of Horizontal Water Vapor Transport and Precipitation Extremes in the North Pacific

Timothy B. Higgins aDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

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Aneesh C. Subramanian aDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

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Will E. Chapman bNational Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

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David A. Lavers cEuropean Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting, Reading, United Kingdom

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Andrew C. Winters aDepartment of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, Colorado

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Abstract

Accurate forecasts of weather conditions have the potential to mitigate the social and economic damages they cause. To make informed decisions based on forecasts, it is important to determine the extent to which they could be skillful. This study focuses on subseasonal forecasts out to a lead time of four weeks. We examine the differences between the potential predictability, which is computed under the assumption of a “perfect model,” of integrated vapor transport (IVT) and precipitation under extreme conditions in subseasonal forecasts across the northeast Pacific. Our results demonstrate significant forecast skill of extreme IVT and precipitation events (exceeding the 90th percentile) into week 4 for specific areas, particularly when anomalously wet conditions are observed in the true model state. This forecast skill during weeks 3 and 4 is closely associated with a zonal extension of the North Pacific jet. These findings of the source of skillful subseasonal forecasts over the U.S. West Coast could have implications for water management in these regions susceptible to drought and flooding extremes. Additionally, they may offer valuable insights for governments and industries on the U.S. West Coast seeking to make informed decisions based on extended weather prediction.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to understand the differences between the ability to predict high amounts of the transport of water vapor and precipitation over the North Pacific 3 and 4 weeks into the future. The results indicate that differences do exist in a region that is relevant to precipitation on the U.S. West Coast. To physically explain why differences in predictability exist, the relationship between weekly extremes of the extension of the jet stream, IVT, and precipitation over the North Pacific is explored. These findings may impact decisions relevant to water management on the U.S. West Coast susceptible to drought and flooding extremes.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Timothy B. Higgins, timothy.higgins@colorado.edu

Abstract

Accurate forecasts of weather conditions have the potential to mitigate the social and economic damages they cause. To make informed decisions based on forecasts, it is important to determine the extent to which they could be skillful. This study focuses on subseasonal forecasts out to a lead time of four weeks. We examine the differences between the potential predictability, which is computed under the assumption of a “perfect model,” of integrated vapor transport (IVT) and precipitation under extreme conditions in subseasonal forecasts across the northeast Pacific. Our results demonstrate significant forecast skill of extreme IVT and precipitation events (exceeding the 90th percentile) into week 4 for specific areas, particularly when anomalously wet conditions are observed in the true model state. This forecast skill during weeks 3 and 4 is closely associated with a zonal extension of the North Pacific jet. These findings of the source of skillful subseasonal forecasts over the U.S. West Coast could have implications for water management in these regions susceptible to drought and flooding extremes. Additionally, they may offer valuable insights for governments and industries on the U.S. West Coast seeking to make informed decisions based on extended weather prediction.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to understand the differences between the ability to predict high amounts of the transport of water vapor and precipitation over the North Pacific 3 and 4 weeks into the future. The results indicate that differences do exist in a region that is relevant to precipitation on the U.S. West Coast. To physically explain why differences in predictability exist, the relationship between weekly extremes of the extension of the jet stream, IVT, and precipitation over the North Pacific is explored. These findings may impact decisions relevant to water management on the U.S. West Coast susceptible to drought and flooding extremes.

© 2024 American Meteorological Society. This published article is licensed under the terms of the default AMS reuse license. For information regarding reuse of this content and general copyright information, consult the AMS Copyright Policy (www.ametsoc.org/PUBSReuseLicenses).

Corresponding author: Timothy B. Higgins, timothy.higgins@colorado.edu
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