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Jeffrey D. Duda and David D. Turner

Abstract

The Method of Object-based Diagnostic Evaluation (MODE) is used to perform an object-based verification of approximately 1400 forecasts of composite reflectivity from the operational HRRR during April–September 2019. In this study, MODE is configured to prioritize deep, moist convective storm cells typical of those that produce severe weather across the central and eastern United States during the warm season. In particular, attributes related to distance and size are given the greatest attribute weights for computing interest in MODE. HRRR tends to overforecast all objects, but substantially overforecasts both small objects at low-reflectivity thresholds and large objects at high-reflectivity thresholds. HRRR tends to either underforecast objects in the southern and central plains or has a correct frequency bias there, whereas it overforecasts objects across the southern and eastern United States. Attribute comparisons reveal the inability of the HRRR to fully resolve convective-scale features and the impact of data assimilation and loss of skill during the initial hours of the forecasts. Scalar metrics are defined and computed based on MODE output, chiefly relying on the interest value. The object-based threat score (OTS), in particular, reveals similar performance of HRRR forecasts as does the Heidke skill score, but with differing magnitudes, suggesting value in adopting an object-based approach to forecast verification. The typical distance between centroids of objects is also analyzed and shows gradual degradation with increasing forecast length.

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Xu Zhang, Yuhua Yang, Baode Chen, and Wei Huang

Abstract

The quantitative precipitation forecast in the 9-km operational modeling system (without the use of a convection parameterization scheme) at the Shanghai Meteorological Service (SMS) usually suffers from excessive precipitation at the grid scale and less-structured precipitation patterns. Two scale-aware convection parameterizations were tested in the operational system to mitigate these deficiencies. Their impacts on the warm-season precipitation forecast over China were analyzed in case studies and two-month retrospective forecasts. The results from case studies show that the importance of convection parameterization depends on geographical regions and weather regimes. Considering a proper magnitude of parameterized convection can produce more realistic precipitation distribution and reduce excessive gridscale precipitation in southern China. In northeast and southwest China, however, the convection parameterization plays an insignificant role in precipitation forecast because of strong synoptic-scale forcing. A statistical evaluation of the two-month retrospective forecasts indicates that the forecast skill for precipitation in the 9-km operational system is improved by choosing proper convection parameterization. This study suggests that improvement in contemporary convection parameterizations is needed for their usage for various meteorological conditions and reasonable partitioning between parameterized and resolved convection.

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Evan A. Kalina, Isidora Jankov, Trevor Alcott, Joseph Olson, Jeffrey Beck, Judith Berner, David Dowell, and Curtis Alexander

Abstract

The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh Ensemble (HRRRE) is a 36-member ensemble analysis system with 9 forecast members that utilizes the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (ARW-WRF) dynamic core and the physics suite from the operational Rapid Refresh/High-Resolution Rapid Refresh deterministic modeling system. A goal of HRRRE development is a system with sufficient spread among members, comparable in magnitude to the random error in the ensemble mean, to represent the range of possible future atmospheric states. HRRRE member diversity has traditionally been obtained by perturbing the initial and lateral boundary conditions of each member, but recent development has focused on implementing stochastic approaches in HRRRE to generate additional spread. These techniques were tested in retrospective experiments and in the May 2019 Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Experiment (HWT-SE). Results show a 6%–25% increase in the ensemble spread in 2-m temperature, 2-m mixing ratio, and 10-m wind speed when stochastic parameter perturbations are used in HRRRE (HRRRE-SPP). Case studies from HWT-SE demonstrate that HRRRE-SPP performed similar to or better than the operational High-Resolution Ensemble Forecast system, version 2 (HREFv2), and the nonstochastic HRRRE. However, subjective evaluations provided by HWT-SE forecasters indicated that overall, HRRRE-SPP predicted lower probabilities of severe weather (using updraft helicity as a proxy) compared to HREFv2. A statistical analysis of the performance of HRRRE-SPP and HREFv2 from the 2019 summer convective season supports this claim, but also demonstrates that the two systems have similar reliability for prediction of severe weather using updraft helicity.

Open access
Valerio Capecchi

Abstract

We investigate the potential added value of running three limited-area ensemble systems (with the WRF, Meso-NH, and MOLOCH models and a grid spacing of approximately 2.5 km) for two heavy-precipitation events in Italy. Such high-resolution ensembles include an explicit treatment of convective processes and dynamically downscale the ECMWF global ensemble predictions, which have a grid spacing of approximately 18 km. The predictions are verified against rain gauge data, and their accuracy is evaluated over that of the driving coarser-resolution ensemble system. Furthermore, we compare the simulation speed (defined as the ratio of simulation length to wall-clock time) of the three limited-area models to estimate the computational effort for operational convection-permitting ensemble forecasting. We also study how the simulation wall-clock time scales with increasing numbers of computing elements (from 36 to 1152 cores). Objective verification methods generally show that convection-permitting forecasts outperform global forecasts for both events, although precipitation peaks remain largely underestimated for one of the two events. Comparing simulation speeds, the MOLOCH model is the fastest and the Meso-NH is the slowest one. The WRF Model attains efficient scalability, whereas it is limited for the Meso-NH and MOLOCH models when using more than 288 cores. We finally demonstrate how the model simulation speed has the largest impact on a joint evaluation with the model performance because the accuracy of the three limited-area ensembles, amplifying the forecasting capability of the global predictions, does not differ substantially.

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Ravi P. Shukla and J. L. Kinter

Abstract

This study examines the possible relationship between predictions of weekly and biweekly averages of 10-m winds at 3-week lead time and interannual variability over the western Pacific and Indian Ocean (WP-IO) using Climate Forecast System version 2 (CFSv2) reforecasts for period 1979–2008. There is a large temporal correlation between forecasts and reanalyses for zonal, meridional, and total wind magnitudes at 10 m over most of WP-IO for the average of weeks 1 and 2 (W1 and W2) in reforecasts initialized in January (JIR) and May (MIR). The model has some correlations that exceed 95% confidence in some portions of WP-IO in week 3 (W3) but no skill in week 4 (W4) over most of the region. The model depicts prediction skill in the 14-day average of weeks 3–4 (W3–4) over portions of WP-IO, similar to the level of skill in W3. The amplitude of interannual variability (IAV) for 10-m winds in W1 of JIR and MIR is close to that in reanalyses. As lead time increases, the amplitude of IAV of 10-m winds gradually decreases over WP-IO in reforecasts, in contrast to behavior in reanalyses. The amplitude of IAV of predicted 10-m winds in W3–4 over WP-IO is equivalent to that in W3 and W4 in reforecasts. In contrast, the amplitude of IAV in W3–4 in January and May of the reanalysis is much smaller than IAV of W3 and W4. Therefore, one of the possible causes for prediction skill in W3–4 over subregions of WP-IO is due to a reduction of IAV bias in W3–4 in comparison to IAV bias in W3 and W4.

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Regula Keller, Jan Rajczak, Jonas Bhend, Christoph Spirig, Stephan Hemri, Mark A. Liniger, and Heini Wernli

Abstract

Statistical postprocessing is applied in operational forecasting to correct systematic errors of numerical weather prediction models (NWP) and to automatically produce calibrated local forecasts for end-users. Postprocessing is particularly relevant in complex terrain, where even state-of-the-art high-resolution NWP systems cannot resolve many of the small-scale processes shaping local weather conditions. In addition, statistical postprocessing can also be used to combine forecasts from multiple NWP systems. Here we assess an ensemble model output statistics (EMOS) approach to produce seamless temperature forecasts based on a combination of short-term ensemble forecasts from a convection-permitting limited-area ensemble and a medium-range global ensemble forecasting model. We quantify the benefit of this approach compared to only postprocessing the high-resolution NWP. The multimodel EMOS approach (“mixed EMOS”) is able to improve forecasts by 30% with respect to direct model output from the high-resolution NWP. A detailed evaluation of mixed EMOS reveals that it outperforms either one of the single-model EMOS versions by 8%–12%. Temperature forecasts at valley locations profit in particular from the model combination. All forecast variants perform worst in winter (DJF); however, calibration and model combination improves forecast quality substantially. In addition to increasing skill as compared to single-model postprocessing, it also enables us to seamlessly combine multiple forecast sources with different time horizons (and horizontal resolutions) and thereby consolidates short-term to medium-range forecasting time horizons in one product without any user-relevant discontinuity.

Open access
Timothy D. Mitchell and Joanne Camp

Abstract

The Conway–Maxwell–Poisson distribution improves the precision with which seasonal counts of tropical cyclones may be modeled. Conventionally the Poisson is used, which assumes that the formation and transit of tropical cyclones is the result of a Poisson process, such that their frequency distribution has equal mean and variance (“equi-dispersion”). However, earlier studies of observed records have sometimes found overdispersion, where the variance exceeds the mean, indicating that tropical cyclones are clustered in particular years. The evidence presented here demonstrates that at least some of this overdispersion arises from observational inhomogeneities. Once this is removed, and particularly near the coasts, there is evidence for equi-dispersion or underdispersion. To more accurately model numbers of tropical cyclones, we investigate the use of the Conway–Maxwell–Poisson as an alternative to the Poisson that represents any dispersion characteristic. An example is given for East China where using it improves the skill of a prototype seasonal forecast of tropical cyclone landfall.

Open access
Julia Jeworrek, Gregory West, and Roland Stull

Abstract

Physics parameterizations in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model are systematically varied to investigate precipitation forecast performance over the complex terrain of southwest British Columbia (BC). Comparing a full year of modeling data from over 100 WRF configurations to station observations reveals sensitivities of precipitation intensity, season, location, grid resolution, and accumulation window. The choice of cumulus and microphysics parameterizations is most important. The WSM5 microphysics scheme yields competitive verification scores when compared to more sophisticated and computationally expensive parameterizations. Although the scale-aware Grell–Freitas cumulus parameterization performs better for summertime convective precipitation, the conventional Kain–Fritsch parameterization better simulates wintertime frontal precipitation, which contributes to the majority of the annual precipitation in southwest BC. Finer grid spacings have lower relative biases and a more realistic spread in precipitation intensity distribution, yet higher relative standard deviations of their errors—they produce finer spatial differences and local extrema. Finer resolutions produce the best fraction of correct-to-incorrect forecasts across all precipitation intensities, whereas the coarser 27-km domain yields the highest hit rates and equitable threat scores. Verification metrics improve greatly with longer accumulation windows—hourly precipitation values are prone to double-penalty issues, while longer accumulation windows compensate for timing errors but lose information about short-term precipitation intensities. This study provides insights regarding WRF precipitation performance in complex terrain across a wide variety of configurations, using metrics important to a range of end users.

Open access
Andrew Hazelton, Zhan Zhang, Bin Liu, Jili Dong, Ghassan Alaka, Weiguo Wang, Tim Marchok, Avichal Mehra, Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan, Xuejin Zhang, Morris Bender, Vijay Tallapragada, and Frank Marks

Abstract

NOAA’s Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS) is an evolving FV3-based hurricane modeling system that is expected to replace the operational hurricane models at the National Weather Service. Supported by the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP), global-nested and regional versions of HAFS were run in real time in 2019 to create the first baseline for the HAFS advancement. In this study, forecasts from the global-nested configuration of HAFS (HAFS-globalnest) are evaluated and compared with other operational and experimental models. The forecasts by HAFS-globalnest covered the period from July through October during the 2019 hurricane season. Tropical cyclone (TC) track, intensity, and structure forecast verifications are examined. HAFS-globalnest showed track skill superior to several operational hurricane models and comparable intensity and structure skill, although the skill in predicting rapid intensification was slightly inferior to the operational model skill. HAFS-globalnest correctly predicted that Hurricane Dorian would slow and turn north in the Bahamas and also correctly predicted structural features in other TCs such as a sting jet in Hurricane Humberto during extratropical transition. Humberto was also a case where HAFS-globalnest had better track forecasts than a regional version of HAFS (HAFS-SAR) due to a better representation of the large-scale flow. These examples and others are examined through comparisons with airborne tail Doppler radar from the NOAA WP-3D to provide a more detailed evaluation of TC structure prediction. The results from this real-time experiment motivate several future model improvements, and highlight the promise of HAFS-globalnest for improved TC prediction.

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Theodore W. Letcher, Sandra L. LeGrand, and Christopher Polashenski

Abstract

Blowing snow presents substantial risk to human activities by causing severe visibility degradation and snow drifting. Furthermore, blowing snow presents a weather forecast challenge since it is not generally simulated in operational weather forecast models. In this study, we apply a physically based blowing snow model as a diagnostic overlay to output from a reforecast WRF simulation of a significant blowing snow event that occurred over the northern Great Plains of the United States during the winter of 2019. The blowing snow model is coupled to an optics parameterization that estimates the visibility reduction by blowing snow. This overlay is qualitatively evaluated against false color satellite imagery from the GOES-16 operational weather satellite and available surface visibility observations. The WRF-simulated visibility is substantially improved when incorporating blowing snow hydrometeors. Furthermore, the model-simulated plume of blowing snow roughly corresponds to the blowing snow plumes visible in the satellite imagery. Overall, this study illustrates how a blowing snow diagnostic model can aid weather forecasters in making blowing snow visibility forecasts, and demonstrates how the model can be evaluated against satellite imagery.

Open access