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Jacob T. Radford
and
Gary M. Lackmann

Abstract

We used object-oriented verification and self-organizing maps (SOMs) to identify patterns in environmental parameters correlating with mesoscale snowband predictive skill by the High-Resolution Ensemble Forecast (HREF) system between 2017 and 2022. First, HREF snowband forecasts for 305 banding events were verified based on similarities between forecast and observed feature properties. HREF members performed comparably, demonstrating large positional errors, but the non-time-lagged High-Resolution Rapid Refresh member demonstrated the greatest overall skill. Observed banding events were clustered by 500-hPa geopotential height anomalies, mean sea level pressure, vertical velocity, frontogenesis, and saturation equivalent potential vorticity from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts Reanalysis version 5 using SOMs. Clusters reaffirmed the presence of midlevel frontogenesis, ascent, and reduced stability in most banding cases, and the predominant synoptic environments conducive to band development. Clusters were compared to determine whether patterns in the variables were correlated with predictive skill. Strength of upward motion was correlated with skill, with the strongest upward motion cases verifying 10% better than the weakest upward motion cases due to smaller positional error. Additionally, events with a single region of strong upward motion verified better than events with disorganized, but comparably intense, upward motion. The magnitude of frontogenesis was uncorrelated with skill, but events with more upright frontogenesis collocated with the band centroid were better predicted than events with shallower slopes and low-level frontogenesis displaced toward warmer air. The skill variance associated with different vertical motion magnitudes could assist forecasters in modulating forecast confidence, while the most common types of errors documented here may be beneficial to model developers in refining HREF member snowfall forecasts.

Significance Statement

High-resolution numerical weather prediction (NWP) models generally have limited predictive skill for mesoscale snowband forecasts. Even so, some snowbands are forecast by NWP models with much greater skill than others. In this work, we apply artificial intelligence to group snowband events based on atmospheric conditions and then determine whether different groups are easier or harder for models to predict. Identification of these groups could help forecasters know when to trust or be skeptical of NWP output and help developers improve snowband formation processes in NWP models.

Restricted access
Yan Ji
,
Xiefei Zhi
,
Luying Ji
, and
Ting Peng

Abstract

Forecasts produced by EPSs provide the potential state of the future atmosphere and quantify uncertainty. However, the raw ensemble forecasts from a single EPS are typically characterized by underdispersive predictions, especially for precipitation that follows a right-skewed gamma distribution. In this study, censored and shifted gamma distribution ensemble model output statistics (CSG-EMOS) is performed as one of the state-of-the-art methods for probabilistic precipitation postprocessing across China. Ensemble forecasts from multiple EPSs, including the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, and the Met Office, are collected as raw ensembles. A conditional CSG EMOS (Cond-CSG-EMOS) model is further proposed to calibrate the ensemble forecasts for heavy-precipitation events, where the standard CSG-EMOS is insufficient. The precipitation samples from the training period are divided into two categories, light- and heavy-precipitation events, according to a given precipitation threshold and prior ensemble forecast. Then individual models are, respectively, optimized for adequate parameter estimation. The results demonstrate that the Cond-CSG-EMOS is superior to the raw EPSs and the standard CSG-EMOS, especially for the calibration of heavy-precipitation events. The spatial distribution of forecast skills shows that the Cond-CSG-EMOS outperforms the others over most of the study region, particularly in North and Central China. A sensitivity testing on the precipitation threshold shows that a higher threshold leads to better outcomes for the regions that have more heavy-precipitation events, i.e., South China. Our results indicate that the proposed Cond-CSG-EMOS model is a promising approach for the statistical postprocessing of ensemble precipitation forecasts.

Significance Statement

Heavy-precipitation events are of highly socioeconomic relevance. But it remains a great challenge to obtain high-quality probabilistic quantitative precipitation forecasting (PQPF) from the operational ensemble prediction systems (EPSs). Statistical postprocessing is commonly used to calibrate the systematic errors of the raw EPSs forecasts. However, the non-Gaussian nature of precipitation and the imbalance between the size of light- and heavy-precipitation samples add to the challenge. This study proposes a conditional postprocessing method to improve PQPF of heavy precipitation by performing calibration separately for light and heavy precipitation, in contrast to some previous studies. Our results indicate that the conditional model mitigates the underestimation of heavy precipitation, as well as with a better calibration for the light- and moderate-precipitation.

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Jacob T. Radford
and
Gary M. Lackmann

Abstract

Mesoscale snowbands are impactful winter weather phenomena but are challenging to predict due to small-scale forcings and ingredients. Previous work has established that even deterministic convection-allowing models (CAMs) often struggle to represent these features with much precision and recommended the application of ingredients-based or probabilistic forecast strategies. Based on these recommendations, we develop and evaluate four different models for forecasting snowbands. The first model, referred to as the “HREF threshold probability” model, detects band development in High-Resolution Ensemble Forecast (HREF) system members’ 1000-m simulated reflectivities, then uses these detections to calculate a snowband probability. The second model is a random forest incorporating features explicitly linked to snowbands, such as the detection of bands in each HREF member and statistical summaries of simulated reflectivity and the categorical snow field. The third model is a random forest model incorporating snowband ingredients, such as midtropospheric frontogenesis, moist symmetric stability, and vertical velocity. Last, the fourth model combines the features of the explicit and implicit random forests. Binary band predictions based upon the HREF threshold probability model resulted in a critical success index 27% higher than the average HREF member. The explicit feature random forest model further improved performance by an additional 11%, with statistics of the reflectivity field holding the most predictive value. The implicit and combined random forests slightly underperformed the explicit random forest, perhaps due to a large number of noisy, correlated features. Ultimately, we demonstrate that simple probabilistic snowband forecasting strategies can yield substantial improvements over deterministic CAMs.

Significance Statement

Mesoscale snowbands have the potential for major societal impacts but are difficult to predict due to their small spatial scales. Previous work has shown that individual high-resolution numerical weather prediction (NWP) models struggle to predict whether or not a snowband will occur. In this work, we evaluate whether a probabilistic forecast strategy using high-resolution ensemble NWP output leads to improved snowband forecasts, and whether we can gain additional predictive skill by combining this output with artificial intelligence (AI) methods. AI can also help us understand the environmental factors associated with snowbands and compare environmental importance in forecasting to just using the model output snowfall forecasts explicitly.

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Christopher J. Slocum
and
John A. Knaff

Abstract

The 48-h intensity forecasts for Hurricane Pamela (2021) from numerical weather prediction models, statistical–dynamical aids, and forecasters were a major forecast bust with Pamela making landfall as a minor rather than major hurricane. From the satellite presentation, Pamela exhibited a symmetric pattern referred to as central cold cover (CCC) in the subjective Dvorak intensity technique. Per the technique, the CCC pattern is accompanied by arrested development in intensity despite the seemingly favorable convective signature. To understand forecast uncertainty during occurrences, central cold cover frequency from 2011 to 2021 is documented. From these cases, composites of longwave infrared brightness temperatures from geostationary satellites for CCC cases are presented, and the surrounding tropical cyclone large-scale environment is quantified and compared with other tropical cyclones at similar latitudes and intensities. These composites show that central cold cover has a consistent presentation, but varies in the preceding hours for storms that eventually intensify or weaken. And, the synoptic-scale environment surrounding the tropical cyclone thermodynamically supports the vigorous deep convection associated with CCC. Finally, intensity forecast errors from numerical weather prediction models and statistical–dynamical aids are examined in comparison to similar tropical cyclones. This work shows that guidance struggles during CCC cases with intensity errors from these models being in the lowest percentiles of performance, particularly for 24- and 36-h forecasts.

Significance Statement

The appearance of symmetric cold clouds near the center of developing tropical cyclones is most often associated with future intensification. This simple relationship is widely used by statistical tropical cyclone intensity forecast models. Here, we reexamine and confirm that one subjectively determined nighttime cold cyclone cloud pattern termed the “central cold cover” pattern in Vern Dvorak’s seminal technique for estimating tropical cyclone intensity from infrared satellite images is indeed related to slow or arrested development, and represents a failure mode for these simple forecast models.

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Boyan Hu
,
Pinhong Hui
,
Jinfeng Ding
, and
Jianping Tang

Abstract

On 13 November 2019, seven commercial aircraft of China Eastern Airlines encountered nine severe-or-greater clear-air turbulence (CAT) events over central and eastern China within 12 h (0000–1200 UTC). These events mainly occurred at altitudes between 6.0 and 6.7 km. A high-resolution nested numerical simulation is carried out using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model to investigate the generation mechanism of these CAT events, with a horizontal resolution of 1 km over the inner domain. In addition, seven CAT diagnostics with outstanding performances are employed for the mechanism analysis. The WRF Model can reasonably reproduce both synoptic-scale systems (Siberian high and upper-level jet stream) and local vertical structures (temperature, dewpoint temperature, and wind field). The simulation indicates that an upper-level front–jet system with a remarkable meridional temperature gradient intensifies over central and eastern China, with the maximum wind speed increasing from 59.0 to 67.3 m s−1. The intensification of the front–jet system induces the tropopause folding, and nine localized CAT events occur in the region with large vertical wind shear (VWS) (1.55 × 10−2–2.53 × 10−2 s−1) and small Richardson numbers (Ri) (0.42–0.85) below the cyclonic side of the jet stream. Diagnostic analysis reveals that Kelvin–Helmholtz instability plays an important role in CAT generation, while convective and inertial instability is not directly associated with CAT generation in this study. A typical flight case with continuous CAT events also suggests that large VWS (greater than 1.3 × 10−2 s−1) accompanied with small Ri (less than 1) favors CAT generation in a front–jet system environment.

Significance Statement

A high-resolution nested numerical simulation is carried out using the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model to investigate the generation mechanism of nine severe-or-greater clear-air turbulence (CAT) events over central and eastern China. Intensification of a front–jet system induces tropopause folding, and nine CAT events occur in the region with large vertical wind shear (greater than 1.55 × 10−2 s−1) and small Richardson numbers (less than 0.85) below the cyclonic side of the jet stream. Kelvin–Helmholtz instability plays an important role in the CAT generation, rather than convective and inertial instability.

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Kathryn M. Newman
,
Barbara Brown
,
John Halley Gotway
,
Ligia Bernardet
,
Mrinal Biswas
,
Tara Jensen
, and
Louisa Nance

Abstract

Tropical cyclone (TC) forecast verification techniques have traditionally focused on track and intensity, as these are some of the most important characteristics of TCs and are often the principal verification concerns of operational forecast centers. However, there is a growing need to verify other aspects of TCs as process-based validation techniques may be increasingly necessary for further track and intensity forecast improvements as well as improving communication of the broad impacts of TCs including inland flooding from precipitation. Here we present a set of TC-focused verification methods available via the Model Evaluation Tools (MET) ranging from traditional approaches to the application of storm-centric coordinates and the use of feature-based verification of spatially defined TC objects. Storm-relative verification using observed and forecast tracks can be useful for identifying model biases in precipitation accumulation in relation to the storm center. Using a storm-centric cylindrical coordinate system based on the radius of maximum wind adds additional storm-relative capabilities to regrid precipitation fields onto cylindrical or polar coordinates. This powerful process-based model diagnostic and verification technique provides a framework for improved understanding of feedbacks between forecast tracks, intensity, and precipitation distributions. Finally, object-based verification including land masking capabilities provides even more nuanced verification options. Precipitation objects of interest, either the central core of TCs or extended areas of rainfall after landfall, can be identified, matched to observations, and quickly aggregated to build meaningful spatial and summary verification statistics.

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Marcus Johnson
,
Ming Xue
, and
Youngsun Jung

Abstract

A proof-of-concept systematic evaluation of convective hazards is applied to short-term (1–6 h) forecasts using the Morrison, National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), Predicted Particle Properties (P3), and Thompson two-moment microphysics schemes for the 2018 NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Forecasting Experiment (HWT SFE) period (hereafter “MORR,” “NSSL,” “P3,” and “THOM” experiments, respectively). Four convective line cases are highlighted to elaborate on relative experiment biases/skill. Composite reflectivity and 1-h accumulated precipitation are examined to determine storm coverage/precipitation biases/skill utilizing point-based verification with a neighborhood. Simulated 1–6-km updraft helicity and observed 3–6-km azimuthal shear and MESH are examined to consider simulated rotation and hail core prediction with object-based scores. Over the full season, MORR displays little overall storm coverage bias relative to NSSL, P3, and THOM underprediction. The equitable threat score (ETS) and fractions skill score (FSS) of P3 are lower than the other experiments. P3 and THOM underpredict convective regions with intense reflectivity relative to MORR and NSSL overprediction. All experiments underpredict precipitation amounts. P3 light precipitation FSS is lower than other experiments. Rotation object verification exhibits sensitivity to microphysics experiments, as microphysics has an indirect influence on storm dynamics. While P3 has the largest hail object underprediction, all experiments grossly overpredict the number of hail objects in convective line cases despite forecast objects defined with the same product (MESH) and threshold as observations. The importance of microphysics ice parameterization and ongoing scheme updates highlight the need to apply this verification framework to optimal/updated schemes before optimizing ensemble design.

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Salomé Antoine
,
Rachel Honnert
,
Yann Seity
,
Benoît Vié
,
Frédéric Burnet
, and
Pauline Martinet

Abstract

This paper evaluates fog forecasts of a new AROME configuration dedicated to fog thanks to observations of the recent field campaign SOuth westFOGs 3Dimensions (SOFOG3D). This new configuration takes advantage of an upgraded horizontal and vertical resolution of a two-moment microphysical scheme [Liquid Ice Multiple Aerosols (LIMA)], and of the inclusion of a parameterization of the droplet’s deposition onto vegetation. A statistical study conducted over the 6 months of the SOFOG3D field campaign allowed the evaluation of the quality of fog forecasts produced by this new configuration to compare it to the current operational configuration of AROME. The main findings are as follows: the new configuration forecasts more fog events, with a few more false alarms, but improved the amount of fog events with low top height and with a low water content, underestimated by the reference configuration. The importance of the first level height for a good representation of the first few meters above the ground is crucial to improve the fog formation forecast. A delay of fog dissipation in the morning was highlighted in operational simulations and slightly reduced thanks to LIMA. This two-moment scheme produced thinner fogs, with less water content. These are more realistic, compared with observations, and thinner fog is also easier for solar radiation to dissipate.

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Jordan R. Bell
,
Emily F. Wisinski
,
Andrew L. Molthan
,
Christopher J. Schultz
,
Emma Gilligan
, and
Kaylee G. Sharp

Abstract

Hail and damaging winds are two threats associated with intense and severe thunderstorms that traverse the Midwest and Great Plains during the primary growing season. In certain severe thunderstorm events, large swaths of agricultural crops are impacted, allowing the damage to be viewed from multiple satellite remote sensing platforms. Previous studies have focused on analyzing individual hail and wind damage swaths (HWDSs) using satellite remote sensing, but these swaths have never been officially archived or documented. This lack of documentation has made it difficult to analyze the spatial extent and temporal frequency of HWDSs from year to year. This study utilizes daily true color imagery from MODIS aboard NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites and daily local storm reports from the Storm Prediction Center to build a database of HWDSs occurring in the months of May–August, for years 2000–20. This database identified 1646 HWDSs in 12 states throughout the Midwest and Great Plains, confirmed through a combination of archived severe weather warnings, radar information, and official storm reports. For each entry in the HWDS database, a geospatial outline is provided along with the most likely date of first visible damage from MODIS imagery as well as the physical characteristics and time of occurrence estimated from available warnings. This study also provides a summary of the radar characteristics for a portion of the database. This database will further the understanding of severe weather damage by hail and wind to agriculture to help understand the frequency of these events and assist in mapping the impacted areas.

Significance Statement

Hail and wind damage swaths (HWDSs) frequently occur during the primary growing season throughout the Midwest and Great Plains but are not yet officially documented or tracked like other severe weather impacts (e.g., tornadoes and derechos). This study describes the creation of a 21-yr HWDS event database using archived daily storm reports and daily true color satellite imagery. Once the database was completed and underwent quality checks, the research team identified spatial and temporal trends from the confirmed swaths.

Open access
Eric Gilleland
,
Domingo Muñoz-Esparza
, and
David D. Turner

Abstract

When testing hypotheses about which of two competing models is better, say A and B, the difference is often not significant. An alternative, complementary approach, is to measure how often model A is better than model B regardless of how slight or large the difference. The hypothesis concerns whether or not the percentage of time that model A is better than model B is larger than 50%. One generalized test statistic that can be used is the power-divergence test, which encompasses many familiar goodness-of-fit test statistics, such as the loglikelihood-ratio and Pearson X 2 tests. Theoretical results justify using the χ k 1 2 distribution for the entire family of test statistics, where k is the number of categories. However, these results assume that the underlying data are independent and identically distributed, which is often violated. Empirical results demonstrate that the reduction to two categories (i.e., model A is better than model B versus model B is better than A) results in a test that is reasonably robust to even severe departures from temporal independence, as well as contemporaneous correlation. The test is demonstrated on two different example verification sets: 6-h forecasts of eddy dissipation rate (m2/3 s−1) from two versions of the Graphical Turbulence Guidance model and for 12-h forecasts of 2-m temperature (°C) and 10-m wind speed (m s−1) from two versions of the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model. The novelty of this paper is in demonstrating the utility of the power-divergence statistic in the face of temporally dependent data, as well as the emphasis on testing for the “frequency-of-better” alongside more traditional measures.

Open access