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Charles M. Kuster, Barry R. Bowers, Jacob T. Carlin, Terry J. Schuur, Jeff W. Brogden, Robert Toomey, and Andy Dean

Abstract

Decades of research have investigated processes that contribute to downburst development, as well as identified precursor radar signatures that can accompany these events. These advancements have increased downburst predictability, but downbursts still pose a significant forecast challenge, especially in low-shear environments that produce short-lived single and multicell thunderstorms. Additional information provided by dual-polarization radar data may prove useful in anticipating downburst development. One such radar signature is the K DP core (where K DP is the specific differential phase), which can indicate processes such as melting and precipitation loading that increase negative buoyancy and can result in downburst development. Therefore, K DP cores associated with 81 different downbursts across 10 states are examined to explore if this signature could provide forecasters with a reliable and useable downburst precursor signature. The K DP core characteristics near the environmental melting layer, vertical gradients of K DP, and environmental conditions were quantified to identify any differences between downbursts of varying intensities. The analysis shows that 1) K DP cores near the environmental melting layer are a reliable signal that a downburst will develop; 2) while using K DP cores to anticipate an impending downburst’s intensity is challenging, larger K DP near the melting layer and larger vertical gradients of K DP are more commonly associated with strong downbursts than weak ones; 3) downbursts occurring in environments with less favorable conditions for downbursts are associated with higher magnitude K DP cores, and 4) K DP cores evolve relatively slowly (typically longer than 15 min), which makes them easily observable with the 5-min volumetric updates currently provided by operational radars.

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J. V. Ratnam, Masami Nonaka, and Swadhin K. Behera

Abstract

The machine learning technique, namely artificial neural networks (ANN), is used to predict the surface air temperature (SAT) anomalies over Japan in the winter months of December, January, and February for the period 1949/50–2019/20. The predictions are made for the four regions Hokkaido, North, Central, and West of Japan. The inputs to the ANN model are derived from the anomaly correlation coefficients among the SAT anomalies over the regions of Japan and the global SAT and sea surface temperature anomalies. The results are validated using anomaly correlation coefficient (ACC) skill scores with the observation. It is found that the ANN predictions over Hokkaido have higher ACC skill scores compared to the ACC scores over the other three regions. The ANN-predicted SAT anomalies are compared with that of ensemble mean of eight of the North American Multimodel Ensemble (NMME) models besides comparing them with the persistent anomalies. The ANN predictions over all the four regions have higher ACC skill scores compared to the NMME model skill scores in the common period of 1982/83–2018/19. The ANN-predicted SAT anomalies also have higher hit rate and lower false alarm rate compared to the NMME-predicted SAT anomalies. All these indicate that the ANN model is a promising tool for predicting the winter SAT anomalies over Japan.

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Michelle L. L'Heureux, Michael K. Tippett, and Emily J. Becker

Abstract

The relation between the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and California precipitation has been studied extensively and plays a prominent role in seasonal forecasting. However, a wide range of precipitation outcomes on seasonal timescales are possible, even during extreme ENSO states. Here, we investigate prediction skill and its origins on subseasonal timescales. Model predictions of California precipitation are examined using Subseasonal Experiment (SubX) reforecasts for the period 1999–2016, focusing on those from the Flow-Following Icosahedral Model (FIM). Two potential sources of subseasonal predictability are examined: the tropical Pacific Ocean and upper-level zonal winds near California. In both observations and forecasts, the Niño-3.4 index exhibits a weak and insignificant relationship with daily to monthly averages of California precipitation. Likewise, model tropical sea surface temperature and outgoing longwave radiation show only minimal relations with California precipitation forecasts, providing no evidence that flavors of El Niño or tropical modes substantially contribute to the success or failure of subseasonal forecasts. On the other hand, an index for upper-level zonal winds is strongly correlated with precipitation in observations and forecasts, across averaging windows and lead times. The wind index is related to ENSO, but the correlation between the wind index and precipitation remains even after accounting for ENSO phase. Intriguingly, the Niño 3.4 index and California precipitation show a slight but robust negative statistical relation after accounting for the wind index.

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Makenzie J. Krocak, Matthew D. Flournoy, and Harold E. Brooks

Abstract

Increasing tornado warning skill in terms of the probability of detection and false alarm ratio remains an important operational goal. Although many studies have examined tornado warning performance in a broad sense, less focus has been placed on warning performance within sub-daily convective events. In this study, we use the NWS tornado verification database to examine tornado warning performance by order-of-tornado within each convective day. We combine this database with tornado reports to relate warning performance to environmental characteristics. On convective days with multiple tornadoes, the first tornado is warned significantly less often than the middle and last tornadoes. More favorable kinematic environmental characteristics, like increasing 0–1-km shear and storm-relative helicity, are associated with better warning performance related to the first tornado of the convective day. Thermodynamic and composite parameters are less correlated to warning performance. During tornadic events, over half of false alarms occur after the last tornado of the day decays, and false alarms are twice as likely to be issued during this time than before the first tornado forms. These results indicate that forecasters may be better “primed” (or more prepared) to issue warnings on middle and last tornadoes of the day, and must overcome a higher threshold to warn on the first tornado of the day. To overcome this challenge, using kinematic environmental characteristics and intermediate products on the watch-to-warning scale may help.

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Sean Ernst, Joe Ripberger, Makenzie J. Krocak, Hank Jenkins-Smith, and Carol Silva

Abstract

Although severe weather forecast products, such as the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) convective outlook, are much more accurate than climatology at day-to-week time scales, tornadoes and severe thunderstorms claim dozens of lives and cause billions of dollars in damage every year. While the accuracy of this outlook has been well documented, less work has been done to explore the comprehension of the product by non-expert users like the general public. This study seeks to fill this key knowledge gap by collecting data from a representative survey of U.S. adults in the lower 48 states about their use and interpretation of the SPC convective outlook. Participants in this study were asked to rank the words and colors used in the outlook from least to greatest risk, and their answers were compared through visualizations and statistical tests across multiple demographics. Results show that the US public ranks the outlook colors similarly to their ordering in the outlook but switch the positions of several of the outlook words as compared to the operational product. Logistic regression models also reveal that more numerate individuals more correctly rank the SPC outlook words and colors. These findings suggest that the words used in the convective outlook may confuse non-expert users, and that future work should continue to use input from public surveys to test potential improvements in the choice of outlook words. Using more easily understood words may help to increase the outlook’s decision support value and potentially reduce the harm caused by severe weather events.

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Charles R. Sampson, Efren A. Serra, John A. Knaff, and Joshua H. Cossuth

Abstract

The U.S. Navy is keenly interested in analyses and predictions of waves at sea due to their effects on important tasks such as shipping, base preparedness and disaster relief. U.S. Tropical Cyclone (TC) Forecast Centers routinely disseminate wind probabilities consistent with official TC forecasts worldwide, but do not do the same for wave forecasts. These probabilities are especially important at longer leads where TC forecast accuracy diminishes. This work describes global wave probabilities consistent with both the official TC forecasts and their wind probabilities. Real-time runs for 84 TCs between May 2018 and March 2019, with probabilities generated for 12-ft and 18-ft significant wave heights are used to calculate verification statistics. This results in 347, 319, 261, 214, 155, and 112 verification cases at lead times of 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 days where each verification case consists of a 20x20 degree latitude longitude grid around the verifying TC position. When compared with wave probabilities generated solely by a global numerical weather prediction model, the wind probability-based algorithm demonstrates improved consistency with official forecasts and provides additional benefits. Those benefits include an improved capability to discriminate between 12-ft and 18-ft significant wave events and non-events. The verification statistics also shows that the wind probability-based algorithm has a consistent high bias. How these biases can be reduced in future efforts is also discussed.

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Yang Lyu, Xiefei Zhi, Shoupeng Zhu, Yi Fan, and Mengting Pan

Abstract

In this study, two pattern projection methods, i.e., the Stepwise Pattern Projection Method (SPPM) and the newly proposed Neighborhood Pattern Projection Method (NPPM), are investigated to improve forecast skills of daily maximum and minimum temperatures (Tmax and Tmin) over East Asia with lead times of 1–7 days. Meanwhile, the decaying averaging method (DAM) is conducted in parallel for comparison. These post-processing methods are found to effectively calibrate the temperature forecasts on the basis of the raw ECMWF output. Generally, the SPPM is slightly inferior to the DAM, while its insufficiency decreases with increasing lead times. The NPPM shows manifest superiority for all lead times, with the mean absolute errors of Tmax and Tmin decreased by ~0.7°C and ~0.9°C, respectively. Advantages of the two pattern projection methods are both mainly concentrated on the high-altitude areas such as the Tibetan Plateau, where the raw ECMWF forecasts show most conspicuous biases. In addition, aiming at further assessments of these methods on extreme event forecasts, two case experiments are carried out towards a heat wave and a cold surge, respectively. The NPPM is retained as the optimal with the highest forecast skills, which reduces most of the biases to < 2°.C for both Tmax and Tmin over all the lead days. In general, the statistical pattern projection methods are capable of effectively eliminating spatial biases in forecasts of surface air temperature. Compared with the initial SPPM, the NPPM not only produces more powerful forecast calibrations, but also provides more pragmatic calculations and greater potential economic benefits in practical applications.

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Kosuke Ono

Abstract

This study extends Bayesian model averaging (BMA) to a form suitable for time series forecasts. BMA is applied to a three-member ensemble for temperature forecasts with a 1-h interval time series at specific stations. The results of such an application typically have a problematic characteristic. BMA weights assigned to ensemble members fluctuate widely within a few hours because BMA optimizations are independent at each lead time, which is incompatible with the spatiotemporal continuity of meteorological phenomena. To ameliorate this issue, a degree of correlation among different lead times is introduced by the extension of latent variables to lead times adjacent to the target lead time for the calculation of BMA weights and variances. This extension approach stabilizes the BMA weights, improving the performance of deterministic and probabilistic forecasts. Also, an investigation of the effects of this extension technique on the shapes of forecasted probability density functions showed that the extension approach offers advantages in bimodal cases. This extension technique may show promise in other applications to improve the performance of forecasts by BMA.

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Aaron J. Hill and Russ S. Schumacher

Abstract

Approximately seven years of daily initializations from the convection-allowing National Severe Storms Laboratory Weather Research and Forecasting model are used as inputs to train random forest (RF) machine learning models to probabilistically predict instances of excessive rainfall. Unlike other hazards, excessive rainfall does not have an accepted definition, so multiple definitions of excessive rainfall and flash flooding – including flash flood reports and 24-hr average recurrence intervals (ARIs) – are used to explore RF configuration forecast sensitivities. RF forecasts are analogous to operational Weather Prediction Center (WPC) day-1 Excessive Rainfall Outlooks (EROs) and their resolution, reliability, and skill are strongly influenced by rainfall definitions and how inputs are assembled for training. Models trained with 1-y ARI exceedances defined by the Stage-IV (ST4) precipitation analysis perform poorly in the northern Great Plains and southwest U.S., in part due to a high bias in the number of training events in these regions. Increasing the ARI threshold to 2 years or removing ST4 data from training, optimizing forecast skill geographically, and spatially averaging meteorological inputs for training generally results in improved CONUS-wide RF forecast skill. Both EROs and RF forecasts have seasonal skill – poor forecasts in the late fall and winter and skillful forecasts in the summer and early fall. However, the EROs are consistently and significantly better than their RF counterparts, regardless of RF configuration, particularly in the summer months. The results suggest careful consideration should be made when developing ML-based probabilistic precipitation forecasts with convection-allowing model inputs, and further development is necessary to consider these forecast products for operational implementation.

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Makenzie J. Krocak and Harold E. Brooks

Abstract

While many studies have looked at the quality of forecast products, few have attempted to understand the relationship between them. We begin to consider whether or not such an influence exists by analyzing storm-based tornado warning product metrics with respect to whether they occurred within a severe weather watch and, if so, what type of watch they occurred within.

The probability of detection, false alarm ratio, and lead time all show a general improvement with increasing watch severity. In fact, the probability of detection increased more as a function of watch-type severity than the change in probability of detection during the time period of analysis. False alarm ratio decreased as watch type increased in severity, but with a much smaller magnitude than the difference in probability of detection. Lead time also improved with an increase in watch-type severity. Warnings outside of any watch had a mean lead time of 5.5 minutes, while those inside of a particularly dangerous situation tornado watch had a mean lead time of 15.1 minutes. These results indicate that the existence and type of severe weather watch may have an influence on the quality of tornado warnings. However, it is impossible to separate the influence of weather watches from possible differences in warning strategy or differences in environmental characteristics that make it more or less challenging to warn for tornadoes. Future studies should attempt to disentangle these numerous influences to assess how much influence intermediate products have on downstream products.

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