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  • RELAMPAGO-CACTI: High Impact Weather in Subtropical South America x
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Gimena Casaretto
,
Maria Eugenia Dillon
,
Paola Salio
,
Yanina García Skabar
,
Stephen W. Nesbitt
,
Russ S. Schumacher
,
Carlos Marcelo García
, and
Carlos Catalini

Abstract

Sierras de Córdoba (Argentina) is characterized by the occurrence of extreme precipitation events during the austral warm season. Heavy precipitation in the region has a large societal impact, causing flash floods. This motivates the forecast performance evaluation of 24-h accumulated precipitation and vertical profiles of atmospheric variables from different numerical weather prediction (NWP) models with the final aim of helping water management in the region. The NWP models evaluated include the Global Forecast System (GFS), which parameterizes convection, and convection-permitting simulations of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model configured by three institutions: University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC), Colorado State University (CSU), and National Meteorological Service of Argentina (SMN). These models were verified with daily accumulated precipitation data from rain gauges and soundings during the RELAMPAGO-CACTI field campaign. Generally all configurations of the higher-resolution WRFs outperformed the lower-resolution GFS based on multiple metrics. Among the convection-permitting WRF Models, results varied with respect to rainfall threshold and forecast lead time, but the WRFUIUC mostly performed the best. However, elevation-dependent biases existed among the models that may impact the use of the data for different applications. There is a dry (moist) bias in lower (upper) pressure levels which is most pronounced in the GFS. For Córdoba an overestimation of the northern flow forecasted by the NWP configurations at lower levels was encountered. These results show the importance of convection-permitting forecasts in this region, which should be complementary to the coarser-resolution global model forecasts to help various users and decision-makers.

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Jeremiah O. Piersante
,
Russ. S. Schumacher
, and
Kristen L. Rasmussen

Abstract

Ensemble forecasts using the WRF Model at 20-km grid spacing with varying parameterizations are used to investigate and compare precipitation and atmospheric profile forecast biases in North and South America. By verifying a 19-member ensemble against NCEP Stage-IV precipitation analyses, it is shown that the cumulus parameterization (CP), in addition to precipitation amount and season, had the largest influence on precipitation forecast skill in North America during 2016–17. Verification of an ensemble subset against operational radiosondes in North and South America finds that forecasts in both continents feature a substantial midlevel dry bias, particularly at 700 hPa, during the warm season. Case-by-case analysis suggests that large midlevel error is associated with mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) east of the high terrain and westerly subsident flow from the Rocky and Andes Mountains in North and South America. However, error in South America is consistently greater than North America. This is likely attributed to the complex terrain and higher average altitude of the Andes relative to the Rockies, which allow for a deeper low-level jet and long-lasting MCSs, both of which 20-km simulations struggle to resolve. In the wake of data availability from the RELAMPAGO field campaign, the authors hope that this work motivates further comparison of large precipitating systems in North and South America, given their high impact in both continents.

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