Browse

You are looking at 71 - 80 of 3,179 items for :

  • Weather and Forecasting x
  • Refine by Access: All Content x
Clear All
Joseph Martin
,
Adam Monahan
, and
Michael Sigmond

Abstract

This study assesses the forecast skill of the Canadian Seasonal to Interannual Prediction System (CanSIPS), version 2, in predicting Arctic sea ice extent on both the pan-Arctic and regional scales. In addition, the forecast skill is compared to that of CanSIPS, version 1. Overall, there is a net increase of forecast skill when considering detrended data due to the changes made in the development of CanSIPSv2. The most notable improvements are for forecasts of late summer and autumn target months that have been initialized in the months of April and May that, in previous studies, have been associated with the spring predictability barrier. By comparison of the skills of CanSIPSv1 and CanSIPSv2 to that of an intermediate version of CanSIPS, CanSIPSv1b, we can attribute skill differences between CanSIPSv1 and CanSIPSv2 to two main sources. First, an improved initialization procedure for sea ice initial conditions markedly improves forecast skill on the pan-Arctic scale as well as regionally in the central Arctic, Laptev Sea, Sea of Okhotsk, and Barents Sea. This conclusion is further supported by analysis of the predictive skill of the sea ice volume initialization field. Second, the change in model combination from CanSIPSv1 to CanSIPSv2 (exchanging the constituent CanCM3 model for GEM-NEMO) improves forecast skill in the Bering, Kara, Chukchi, Beaufort, East Siberian, Barents, and the Greenland–Iceland–Norwegian (GIN) Seas. In Hudson and Baffin Bay, as well as the Labrador Sea, there is limited and unsystematic improvement in forecasts of CanSIPSv2 as compared to CanSIPSv1.

Open access
Weiguo Wang
,
Jongil Han
,
Fanglin Yang
,
John Steffen
,
Bin Liu
,
Zhan Zhang
,
Avichal Mehra
, and
Vijay Tallapragada

Abstract

A modification to the mixing length formulation in a planetary boundary layer (PBL) scheme is introduced to improve the intensity forecast of tropical cyclones (TCs) in a basin-scale Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS) for the real-time experiment in 2021. The 2020 basin-scale HAFS with the physics suite of the NCEP operational Global Forecast System performs well in terms of the reduced root-mean-square (RMS) errors in track and intensity except for the mean intensity bias, compared with NCEP operational hurricane models. To address the large intensity bias issue, the vertical mixing length near the surface used in the PBL scheme is increased to follow the similarity theory, consistent with that used in the surface layer scheme. Test results show that the RMS error and bias in intensity are further reduced without the degradation of the track forecast. An idealized one-dimensional TC PBL model is used to understand the model response to the modification, indicating that the radial wind is strengthened to dynamically balance the enhanced downward momentum mixing. This is also exhibited in the case study of a three-dimensional HAFS simulation, with the improved vertical distribution of the simulated wind speed in the eyewall area. Given the improvement, the modification has been implemented in one of the configurations of the first version of the operational HAFS at NCEP. Finally, the adjustment of the parameterization of diffusion and mixing in TC simulations is discussed.

Significance Statement

A modification to the mixing length formulation in a PBL scheme is described, which improves the intensity forecast of tropical cyclones simulated in the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS). Retrospective tests indicate that the modification can reduce the root-mean-square error and bias of the simulated TC intensity by 5%–10% and 50%, respectively. This modification has been implemented in one of the operational configurations of HAFS, version 1, at NCEP, improving the hurricane model guidance.

Restricted access
Devon J. Healey
and
Matthew S. Van Den Broeke

Abstract

While prior research has shown that characteristics of the supercell environment can indicate the likelihood of tornadogenesis, it is common for tornadic and nontornadic supercells to coexist in seemingly similar environments. Thus, some small-scale factors must support tornadogenesis in some supercells and not in others. In this study we examined polarimetric radar signatures of proximate pretornadic and nontornadic supercells in seemingly similar environments to determine if these radar signatures can indicate which proximate supercells are pretornadic and which are nontornadic. We gathered a collection of proximity supercell groups and developed a method to quantify environmental similarity between storms. Using this method, we selected pretornadic–nontornadic supercell pairs in close proximity in space and time having the most similar environments. These pairs were run through an automated tracking algorithm that quantifies polarimetric signatures in each supercell. Supercells with larger differential reflectivity (Z DR) column areas were more likely to become tornadic within the next 30 min compared to neighboring supercells with smaller Z DR column areas. In about two-thirds of pairs, the pretornadic supercell had a larger Z DR column area than the nontornadic supercell prior to its maximum low-level rotation, which is consistent with much prior work. The Z DR arcs could not discriminate between pretornadic and nontornadic supercells, and hailfall area was larger in pretornadic supercells. The separation distance between the specific differential phase (K DP) foot and the Z DR arc was larger in pretornadic supercells, yet was a limited result due to the small sample size used for comparison.

Significance Statement

Atmospheric conditions often indicate whether certain thunderstorms will produce tornadoes. However, sometimes multiple thunderstorms exist in a similar environment, and some produce tornadoes while others do not. Weather radar can identify signatures within thunderstorms that may give some indication of vertical motion, size sorting, and precipitation distributions. When multiple thunderstorms exist in a similar environment, there may be differences in these radar signatures that may indicate which thunderstorms are most likely to become tornadic. The key finding from this study is that pretornadic storms have larger radar-inferred updraft areas than neighboring nontornadic storms.

Restricted access
Jiafen Hu
,
Jidong Gao
,
Chengsi Liu
,
Guifu Zhang
,
Pamela Heinselman
, and
Jacob T. Carlin

Abstract

Assimilating radar reflectivity into convective-scale NWP models remains a challenging topic in radar data assimilation. A primary reason is that the reflectivity forward observation operator is highly nonlinear. To address this challenge, a power transformation function is applied to the WRF Model’s hydrometeor and water vapor mixing ratio variables in this study. Three 3D variational data assimilation experiments are performed and compared for five high-impact weather events that occurred in 2019: (i) a control experiment that assimilates reflectivity using the original hydrometeor mixing ratios as control variables, (ii) an experiment that assimilates reflectivity using power-transformed hydrometeor mixing ratios as control variables, and (iii) an experiment that assimilates reflectivity and retrieved pseudo–water vapor observations using power-transformed hydrometeor and water vapor mixing ratios (qυ ) as control variables. Both qualitative and quantitative evaluations are performed for 0–3-h forecasts from the five cases. The analysis and forecast performance in the two experiments with power-transformed mixing ratios is better than the control experiment. Notably, the assimilation of pseudo–water vapor with power-transformed qυ as an additional control variable is found to improve the performance of the analysis and short-term forecasts for all cases. In addition, the convergence rate of the cost function minimization for the two experiments that use the power transformation is faster than that of the control experiments.

Significance Statement

The effective use of radar reflectivity observations in any data assimilation scheme remains an important research topic because reflectivity observations explicitly include information about hydrometeors and also implicitly include information about the distribution of moisture within storms. However, it is difficult to assimilate reflectivity because the reflectivity forward observation operator is highly nonlinear. This study seeks to identify a more effective way to assimilate reflectivity into a convective-scale NWP model to improve the accuracy of predictions of high-impact weather events.

Restricted access
Jeffrey D. Duda
and
David D. Turner

Abstract

The object-based verification procedure described in a recent paper by Duda and Turner was expanded herein to compare forecasts of composite reflectivity and 6-h precipitation objects between the two most recent operational versions of the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model, versions 3 and 4, over an expanded set of warm season cases in 2019 and 2020. In addition to analyzing all objects, a reduced set of forecast–observation object pairs was constructed by taking the best forecast match to a given observation object for the purposes of bias-reduction and unequivocal object comparison. Despite the apparent signal of improved scalar metrics such as the object-based threat score in HRRRv4 compared to HRRRv3, no statistically significant differences were found between the models. Nonetheless, many object attribute comparisons revealed indications of improved forecast performance in HRRRv4 compared to HRRRv3. For example, HRRRv4 had a reduced overforecasting bias for medium- and large-sized reflectivity objects, and all objects during the afternoon. HRRRv4 also better replicated the distribution of object complexity and aspect ratio. Results for 6-h precipitation also suggested superior performance in HRRRv4 over HRRRv3. However, HRRRv4 was worse with centroid displacement errors and more severely overforecast objects with a high maximum precipitation amount. Overall, this exercise revealed multiple forecast deficiencies in the HRRR, which enables developers to direct development efforts on detailed and specific endeavors to improve model forecasts.

Significance Statement

This work builds upon the authors’ prior work in assessing model forecast quality using an alternative verification method—object-based verification. In this paper we verified two versions of the same model (one an upgrade from the other) that were making forecasts covering the same time window, using the object-based verification method. We found that the updated model was not statistically significantly better, although there were indications it performed better in certain aspects such as capturing the change in the number of storms during the daytime. We were able to identify specific problem areas in the models, which helps us direct model developers in their efforts to further improve the model.

Restricted access
Cameron Bertossa
,
Peter Hitchcock
,
Arthur DeGaetano
, and
Riwal Plougonven

Abstract

A previous study has shown that a large portion of subseasonal-to-seasonal European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) ensemble forecasts for 2-m temperature exhibit properties of univariate bimodality, in some locations occurring in over 30% of forecasts. This study introduces a novel methodology to identify “bimodal events,” meteorological events that trigger the development of spatially and temporally correlated bimodality in forecasts. Understanding such events not only provides insight into the dynamics of the meteorological phenomena causing bimodal events, but also indicates when Gaussian interpretations of forecasts are detrimental. The methodology that is developed allows one to systematically characterize the spatial and temporal scales of the derived bimodal events, and thus uncover the flow states that lead to them. Three distinct regions that exhibit high occurrence rates of bimodality are studied: one in South America, one in the Southern Ocean, and one in the North Atlantic. It is found that bimodal events in each region appear to be triggered by synoptic processes interacting with geographically specific processes: in South America, bimodality is often related to Andes blocking events; in the Southern Ocean, bimodality is often related to an atmospheric Rossby wave interacting with sea ice; and in the North Atlantic, bimodality is often connected to the displacement of a persistent subtropical high. This common pattern of large-scale circulation anomalies interacting with local boundary conditions suggests that any deeper dynamical understanding of these events should incorporate such interactions.

Significance Statement

Repeatedly running weather forecasts with slightly different initial conditions provides some information on the confidence of a forecast. Occasionally, these sets of forecasts spread into two distinct groups or modes, making the “typical” interpretation of confidence inappropriate. What leads to such a behavior has yet to be fully understood. This study contributes to our understanding of this process by presenting a methodology that identifies coherent bimodal events in forecasts of near-surface air temperature. Applying this methodology to a database of such forecasts reveals several key dynamical features that can lead to bimodal events. Exploring and understanding these features is crucial for saving forecasters’ resources, creating more skillful forecasts for the public, and improving our understanding of the weather.

Restricted access
Paul D. Mykolajtchuk
,
Keenan C. Eure
,
David J. Stensrud
,
Yunji Zhang
,
Steven J. Greybush
, and
Matthew R. Kumjian

Abstract

On 28 April 2019, hourly forecasts from the operational High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model consistently predicted an isolated supercell storm late in the day near Dodge City, Kansas, that subsequently was not observed. Two convection-allowing model (CAM) ensemble runs are created to explore the reasons for this forecast error and implications for severe weather forecasting. The 40-member CAM ensembles are run using the HRRR configuration of the WRF-ARW Model at 3-km horizontal grid spacing. The Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation (GSI)-based ensemble Kalman filter is used to assimilate observations every 15 min from 1500 to 1900 UTC, with resulting ensemble forecasts run out to 0000 UTC. One ensemble only assimilates conventional observations, and its forecasts strongly resemble the operational HRRR with all ensemble members predicting a supercell storm near Dodge City. In the second ensemble, conventional observations plus observations of WSR-88D radar clear-air radial velocities, WSR-88D diagnosed convective boundary layer height, and GOES-16 all-sky infrared brightness temperatures are assimilated to improve forecasts of the preconvective environment, and its forecasts have half of the members predicting supercells. Results further show that the magnitude of the low-level meridional water vapor flux in the moist tongue largely separates members with and without supercells, with water vapor flux differences of 12% leading to these different outcomes. Additional experiments that assimilate only radar or satellite observations show that both are important to predictions of the meridional water vapor flux. This analysis suggests that mesoscale environmental uncertainty remains a challenge that is difficult to overcome.

Significance Statement

Forecasts from operational numerical models are the foundation of weather forecasting. There are times when these models make forecasts that do not come true, such as 28 April 2019 when successive forecasts from the operational High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model predicted a supercell storm late in the day near Dodge City, Kansas, that subsequently was not observed. Reasons for this forecast error are explored using numerical experiments. Results suggest that relatively small changes to the prestorm environment led to large differences in the evolution of storms on this day. This result emphasizes the challenges to operational severe weather forecasting and the continued need for improved use of all available observations to better define the atmospheric state given to forecast models.

Restricted access
Kevin M. Lupo
,
Craig S. Schwartz
, and
Glen S. Romine

Abstract

Cutoff lows are often associated with high-impact weather; therefore, it is critical that operational numerical weather prediction systems accurately represent the evolution of these features. However, medium-range forecasts of upper-level features using the Global Forecast System (GFS) are often subjectively characterized by excessive synoptic progressiveness, i.e., a tendency to advance troughs and cutoff lows too quickly downstream. To better understand synoptic progressiveness errors, this research quantifies seven years of 500-hPa cutoff low position errors over the globe, with the goal of objectively identifying regions where synoptic progressiveness errors are common and how frequently these errors occur. Specifically, 500-hPa features are identified and tracked in 0–240-h 0.25° GFS forecasts during April 2015–March 2022 using an objective cutoff low and trough identification scheme and compared to corresponding 500-hPa GFS analyses. In the Northern Hemisphere, cutoff lows are generally underrepresented in forecasts compared to verifying analyses, particularly over continental midlatitude regions. Features identified in short- to long-range forecasts are generally associated with eastward zonal position errors over the conterminous United States and northern Asia, particularly during the spring and autumn. Similarly, cutoff lows over the Southern Hemisphere midlatitudes are characterized by an eastward displacement bias during all seasons.

Significance Statement

Cutoff lows are often associated with high-impact weather, including excessive rainfall, winter storms, and severe weather. GFS forecasts of cutoff lows over the United States are often subjectively noted to advance cutoff lows too quickly downstream, and thus limit forecast skill in potentially impactful scenarios. Therefore, this study quantifies the position error characteristics of cutoff lows in recent GFS forecasts. Consistent with typically anecdotal impressions of cutoff low position errors, this analysis demonstrates that cutoff lows over North America and central Asia are generally associated with an eastward position bias in medium- to long-range GFS forecasts. These results suggest that additional research to identify both environmental conditions and potential model deficiencies that may exacerbate this eastward bias would be beneficial.

Restricted access
Nikolay V. Balashov
,
Amy K. Huff
, and
Anne M. Thompson

Abstract

The use of probabilistic forecasting has been growing in a variety of disciplines because of its potential to emphasize the degree of uncertainty inherent in a prediction. Interpretation of probabilistic forecasts, however, is oftentimes difficult, deterring users who may benefit from such forecasts. To encourage broader use of probabilistic forecasts in the field of air quality, a process for interpreting forecasts from a statistical probabilistic air quality surface ozone model [the Regression in Self Organizing Map (REGiS)] is demonstrated. Four procedures to convert probabilistic to deterministic forecasts are explored for the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, metropolitan area. These procedures calibrate the predicted probability of daily maximum 8-h-average ozone exceeding a standard value by 1) estimating climatological relative frequency, 2) establishing a probability of an exceedance threshold as 50%, 3) maximizing the threat score, and 4) determining the unit bias ratio. REGiS is trained using 2000–11 ozone-season (1 May–30 September) data, calibrated using 2012–14 data, and evaluated using 2015–18 data. Assessment of the calibration data with the Pierce skill score suggests an exceedance threshold based on climatological relative frequency for the conversion from probabilistic to deterministic forecasts. Calibrated REGiS generally compares well to predictions from the U.S. national air quality model and operational “expert” forecasts over the evaluation period. For other probabilistic models and situations, different procedures of converting probabilistic to deterministic forecasts may be more beneficial. The methods presented in this paper represent an approach for operational air quality forecasters seeking to use probabilistic model output to support forecasts designed to protect public health.

Significance Statement

Because probabilistic forecasting is becoming more prevalent in the field of air quality, the purpose of this article is to draw attention to the importance of defining a framework to accurately interpret these forecasts. This work shows that 1) probabilistic forecasts are potentially more useful to forecasters when converted into deterministic forecasts and 2) that some conversion methods are more skillful than others. It is recommended that, if it begins to produce probabilistic air quality products, the National Weather Service should implement some of the strategies presented herein to help with the interpretation of such forecasts.

Restricted access
Andrew Brown
,
Andrew Dowdy
,
Todd P. Lane
, and
Stacey Hitchcock

Abstract

Regional understanding of severe surface winds produced by convective processes [severe convective winds (SCWs)] is important for decision-making in several areas of society, including weather forecasting and engineering design. Meteorological studies have demonstrated that SCWs can occur due to a number of different mesoscale and microscale processes, in a range of large-scale atmospheric environments. However, long-term observational studies of SCW characteristics often have not considered this diversity in physical processes, particularly in Australia. Here, a statistical clustering method is used to separate a large dataset of SCW events, measured by automatic weather stations around Australia, into three types, associated with strong background wind, steep lapse rate, and high moisture environments. These different types of SCWs are shown to have different seasonal and spatial variations in their occurrence, as well as different measured wind gust, lightning, and parent-storm characteristics. In addition, various convective diagnostics are tested in their ability to discriminate between measured SCW events and nonsevere events, with significant variations in skill between event types. Differences in environmental conditions and wind gust characteristics between event types suggests potentially different physical processes for SCW production. These findings are intended to improve regional understanding of severe wind characteristics, as well as environmental prediction of SCWs in weather and climate applications, by considering different event types.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to improve regional understanding of different types of severe wind events in Australia, specifically those associated with atmospheric convection. We did this by constructing a dataset of 413 severe convective wind events, using weather station and radar data within 20 regions around Australia. We then split those events into three different types, based on the environmental conditions that they occur within. We found that each event type tends to occur at different times of the year and in different regions, while also having different wind gust and lightning characteristics. In addition, the atmospheric conditions that are helpful for prediction of severe wind events differs between each type. These results are intended to be useful for prediction of severe wind events associated with convection and assessing their variability, characteristics, and impacts, in both weather forecasting and climate analysis.

Restricted access