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Christopher A. Davis
Barbara G. Brown
Randy Bullock
, and
John Halley-Gotway


The authors use a procedure called the method for object-based diagnostic evaluation, commonly referred to as MODE, to compare forecasts made from two models representing separate cores of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model during the 2005 National Severe Storms Laboratory and Storm Prediction Center Spring Program. Both models, the Advanced Research WRF (ARW) and the Nonhydrostatic Mesoscale Model (NMM), were run without a traditional cumulus parameterization scheme on horizontal grid lengths of 4 km (ARW) and 4.5 km (NMM). MODE was used to evaluate 1-h rainfall accumulation from 24-h forecasts valid at 0000 UTC on 32 days between 24 April and 4 June 2005. The primary variable used for evaluation was a “total interest” derived from a fuzzy-logic algorithm that compared several attributes of forecast and observed rain features such as separation distance and spatial orientation. The maximum value of the total interest obtained by comparing an object in one field with all objects in the comparison field was retained as the quality of matching for that object. The median of the distribution of all such maximum-interest values was selected as a metric of the overall forecast quality.

Results from the 32 cases suggest that, overall, the configuration of the ARW model used during the 2005 Spring Program performed slightly better than the configuration of the NMM model. The primary manifestation of the differing levels of performance was fewer false alarms, forecast rain areas with no observed counterpart, in the ARW. However, it was noted that the performance varied considerably from day to day, with most days featuring indistinguishable performance. Thus, a small number of poor NMM forecasts produced the overall difference between the two models.

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Elizabeth E. Ebert
William A. Gallus Jr.


The contiguous rain area (CRA) method for spatial forecast verification is a features-based approach that evaluates the properties of forecast rain systems, namely, their location, size, intensity, and finescale pattern. It is one of many recently developed spatial verification approaches that are being evaluated as part of a Spatial Forecast Verification Methods Intercomparison Project. To better understand the strengths and weaknesses of the CRA method, it has been tested here on a set of idealized geometric and perturbed forecasts with known errors, as well as nine precipitation forecasts from three high-resolution numerical weather prediction models.

The CRA method was able to identify the known errors for the geometric forecasts, but only after a modification was introduced to allow nonoverlapping forecast and observed features to be matched. For the perturbed cases in which a radar rain field was spatially translated and amplified to simulate forecast errors, the CRA method also reproduced the known errors except when a high-intensity threshold was used to define the CRA (≥10 mm h−1) and a large translation error was imposed (>200 km). The decomposition of total error into displacement, volume, and pattern components reflected the source of the error almost all of the time when a mean squared error formulation was used, but not necessarily when a correlation-based formulation was used.

When applied to real forecasts, the CRA method gave similar results when either best-fit criteria, minimization of the mean squared error, or maximization of the correlation coefficient, was chosen for matching forecast and observed features. The diagnosed displacement error was somewhat sensitive to the choice of search distance. Of the many diagnostics produced by this method, the errors in the mean and peak rain rate between the forecast and observed features showed the best correspondence with subjective evaluations of the forecasts, while the spatial correlation coefficient (after matching) did not reflect the subjective judgments.

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