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Yukitaka Ohashi
and
Kazuki Hara

Abstract

This study attempted to forecast the morning fog expansion (MFE), commonly referred to as the “sea of clouds,” utilizing an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm. The radiation fog phenomenon that contributes to the sea of clouds is caused by various weather conditions. Hence, the MFE was predicted using datasets from public meteorological observations and a mesoscale numerical model (MSM). In this study, a machine-learning technique, the gradient boosting method, was adopted as the AI algorithm. The Miyoshi Basin in Japan, renowned for its MFE, was selected as the experimental region. Training models were developed using datasets from October, November, and December 2018–2021. Subsequently, these models were applied to forecast MFE in 2022. The model employing the upper atmospheric prediction data from the MSM demonstrated the highest robustness and accuracy among the proposed models. For untrained data in the fog season during 2022, the model was confirmed to be sufficiently reliable for forecasting MFE, with a high hit rate of 0.935, a low Brier score of 0.119, and a high Area Under the Curve (AUC) of 0.944. Furthermore, the analysis of the importance of the features elucidated that the meteorological factors, such as synoptic-scale weak wind, temperatures close to the dew-point temperature, and the absence of middle-level cloud cover at midnight, strongly contribute to the MFE. Therefore, the incorporation of upper-level meteorological elements improves the forecast accuracy for MFE.

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Feimin Zhang
,
Shang Wan
,
Shuanglong Jin
, and
Hao Wang

Abstract

Data assimilation is an important approach to improve the prediction performance of near-surface wind and wind power. Based on four-dimensional variational technique, this study proposes an approach to improve near-surface wind and wind power prediction by extracting and assimilating the principal components of cabin radar radial wind observations installed at wind turbine within wind farm. The verification for a series of cases under strong and weak vertical wind shear conditions indicates that, compared to the simulations without assimilation, the predicted ultra-short term (0–4 h) mean absolute error of near-surface wind and single turbine wind power could be reduced by 0.09–1.17 m s−1 and 53–209 kW after the assimilation of radial wind directly, while by 0.33–1.38 m s−1 and 62–239 kW after the assimilation of principal components. These illustrate that assimilating the principal components of radial wind is superior to assimilating radial wind directly, and could obviously reduce prediction error.

Further investigation suggests that extracting the principal components of radial wind has marginal influences on the density and distribution of observations, but could obviously reduce the fluctuation of the observations and the correlation among the observations. The prediction improvement by assimilating the principal components of radial wind is essentially due to the assimilation of low-frequency and low-correlation information involved in the observations.

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Andrew C. Winters
,
Nick P. Bassill
,
John R. Gyakum
, and
Justin R. Minder

Abstract

The St. Lawrence River Valley experiences a variety of precipitation types (p-types) during the cold season, such as rain, freezing rain, ice pellets, and snow. These varied precipitation types exert considerable impacts on aviation, road transportation, power generation and distribution, and winter recreation, and are shaped by diverse multiscale processes that interact with the region’s complex topography. This study utilizes ERA5 reanalysis data, a surface cyclone climatology, and hourly station observations from Montréal, Québec and Burlington, VT, during October–April 2000–2018 to investigate the spectrum of synoptic-scale weather regimes that induce cold season precipitation across the St. Lawrence River Valley. In particular, k-means clustering and self-organizing maps (SOMs) are used to classify cyclone tracks passing near the St. Lawrence River Valley, and their accompanying thermodynamic profiles, into a set of event types that include a U.S. East Coast track, a Central U.S. track, and two Canadian clipper tracks. Composite analyses are subsequently performed to reveal the synoptic-scale environments and the characteristic p-types that most frequently accompany each event type. GEFSv12 reforecasts are then used to examine the relative predictability of cyclone characteristics and the local thermodynamic profile associated with each event type at 0–5-day forecast lead times. The analysis suggests that forecasted cyclones near the St. Lawrence River Valley develop too quickly and are located left-of-track relative to the reanalysis on average, which has implications for forecasts of the local thermodynamic profile and p-type across the region when the temperature is near 0°C.

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Jorge L. García-Franco
,
Chia-Ying Lee
,
Suzana J. Camargo
,
Michael K. Tippett
,
Neljon G. Emlaw
,
Daehyun Kim
,
Young-Kwon Lim
, and
Andrea Molod

Abstract

This paper analyzes the climatology, prediction skill, and predictability of tropical cyclones (TCs) in NASA’s Global Earth Observing System Subseasonal to Seasonal (GEOS-S2S) forecast system version 2. GEOS reasonably simulates the number and spatial distribution of TCs compared to observations except in the Atlantic where the model simulates too few TCs due to low genesis rates in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. The environmental conditions, diagnosed through a genesis potential index, do not clearly explain model biases in the genesis rates, especially in the Atlantic. At the storm-scale, GEOS reforecasts replicate several key aspects of the thermodynamic and dynamic structure of observed TCs, such as a warm core and the secondary circulation. The model, however, fails to simulate an off-center eyewall when evaluating vertical velocity, precipitation and moisture. The analysis of prediction skill of TC genesis and occurrence shows that GEOS has comparable skill to other global models in WMO S2S archive and that its skill could be further improved by increasing the ensemble size. After calibration, GEOS forecasts are skillful in the Western North Pacific and Southern Indian Ocean up to 20 days in advance. A model-based predictability analysis demonstrates the importance of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) as a source of predictability of TC occurrence beyond the 14 day lead-time. Forecasts initialized under strong MJO conditions show evidence of predictability beyond week 3. However, due to model biases in the forecast distribution there are notable gaps between MJO-related prediction skill and predictability which require further study.

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P. W. Miller
,
C. Li
,
K. Xu
,
S. Caparotta
, and
R.V. Rohli

Abstract

On 13 April 2021, a mesoscale convective system (MCS) swept across the southeastern Louisiana coast, capsizing the 39-m Seacor Power roughly 7 km from shore and leaving 13 mariners drowned or missing. In addition to the severe straight-line winds that sank the vessel, sustained surface winds >20 m s−1 behind the leading convection persisted well after the main convective band, inhibiting search and rescue efforts. Though complete historical fatality statistics are unavailable, the 13 deaths associated with this event likely represent one of the deadliest severe convective weather events in modern U.S. maritime history. This analysis integrates in-situ, remotely sensed, and reanalysis datasets to reconstruct the 2021 Seacor Power accident as well as ascertain its depiction in day-of operational convection-allowing model (CAM) guidance. Results suggest that the MCS formed along an unanalyzed coastal boundary and developed a strong meso-high to the east of the wreck as it moved offshore. The resulting zonally oriented pressure gradient directed stiff easterly winds over the wreck for several hours, even as the squall line had propagated well away from the coast. This multi-hour period of severe weather along the Louisiana coast was relatively well resolved by morning-of CAM guidance, providing optimism that future such events may be anticipated with the lead times required by vulnerable sea craft to reach safe harbor. Future severe convective weather watches containing marine zones might include a “marine” section detailing the potential sea conditions, analogous to the “aviation” section in current severe weather watches.

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Audrey Casper
,
Emma S. Nuss
,
Christine M. Baker
,
Melissa Moulton
, and
Gregory Dusek

Abstract

Rip currents, fast offshore-directed flows, are the leading cause of death and rescues on surf beaches worldwide. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) seeks to minimize this threat by providing rip-current hazard likelihood forecasts based on environmental conditions from the Nearshore Wave Prediction System. Rip currents come in several types, including bathymetric rip currents that form when waves break on sandbars interspersed with channels and transient rip currents that form when there are breaking waves coming from multiple directions. The NOAA model was developed and tested in an area where bathymetric rip currents may be the most prevalent type of rip current. Therefore, model performance in regions where other types of rip currents (e.g., transient rip currents) may be more ubiquitous remains unknown. To investigate the efficacy of the NOAA model guidance in the context of different rip-current types, we compared modeled rip-current probabilities with physical-based parameterizations of bathymetric and transient rip-current speeds. We also compared these probabilities to lifeguard observations of bathymetric and transient rip currents from Salt Creek Beach, California, in summer and fall 2021. We found that the NOAA model skillfully predicts a wide range of hazardous parameterized bathymetric speeds but generally underpredicts hazardous transient rip-current speeds and the hazardous rip currents observed at Salt Creek Beach. Our results demonstrate how wave parameters, including directional spread, may serve as environmental indicators of rip-current hazard. By evaluating factors that influence the skill of modeled rip-current predictions, we strive toward improved rip-current hazard forecasting.

Significance Statement

The purpose of this study is to evaluate how well the NOAA rip-current hazard model predicts different rip-current types. Accurate forecasting of rip currents is important because rip currents are the leading cause of death and rescues at surf beaches worldwide. By comparing the performance of the NOAA model to parameterized rip-current speed and lifeguard observations of rip-current strength, we highlighted the model’s decreased ability to predict hazardous transient rip currents compared to hazardous bathymetric rip currents. Because bathymetric and transient rip currents are driven by different environmental conditions, an improved hazard model must be sensitive to these different conditions to predict a greater range of hazardous rip currents.

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Timothy D. Corrie III
,
Bart Geerts
,
Tatiana G. Smirnova
,
Stanley G. Benjamin
,
Michael Charnick
,
Matthew Brothers
,
Siwei He
,
Zachary J. Lebo
, and
Eric P. James

Abstract

Blowing snow is a hazard for motorists because it may rapidly reduce visibility. Numerical weather prediction models in the United States do not capture the movement of snow once it reaches the ground, but visibility reductions due to blowing snow can be diagnosed based on model-predicted land surface and environmental conditions that correlate with blowing snow occurrence. A recently developed diagnostic framework for forecasting blowing snow concentration and the associated visibility reduction is applied to High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) and Rapid Refresh Forecast System (RRFS) model output including surface snow conditions to predict surface visibility reduction due to blowing snow. Twelve blowing snow events around Wyoming from 2018 to 2023 are examined. The analysis shows that visibility reductions due to blowing snow tend to be overpredicted, caused by the initial assumption of full driftability of the snowpack. This study refines the aging of the blowing snow reservoir with two methods. The first method estimates driftability based on time-varying snow density from the RUC Land-Surface Model (RUC LSM) used in the HRRR and experimental RRFS models and is evaluated in a real-time context with the RRFS model. The second, complementary method diagnoses snowpack driftability using a process-based approach that requires data for recent snowfall, wind speed, and skin temperature. Compared to the full driftability assumption, this method shows limited improvements in forecasting skill. In order to improve model-based diagnosis of visibility reduction due to blowing snow, empirical work is needed to determine the relation between snowpack driftability and the recent history of snowfall and other weather conditions.

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Fei Peng
,
Xiaoli Li
, and
Jing Chen

Abstract

Stochastic representations of model uncertainties are of great importance for the performance of ensemble prediction systems (EPSs). The stochastically perturbed parametrization tendencies (SPPT) scheme with a single-scale random pattern has been used in the operational global EPS of China Meteorological Administration (CMA-GEPS) since 2018. To deal with deficiencies in this operational single-scale SPPT scheme, a combined scheme based on the multi-scale SPPT (mSPPT) scheme and the stochastically perturbed parameterization for the planetary boundary layer (SPP-PBL) scheme is developed. In the combined scheme, the mSPPT component aims to expand model uncertainties characterized by SPPT at mesoscale, synoptic scale, and planetary scale. The SPP-PBL component with six vital parameters is used to capture uncertainties in PBL processes, which is under-represented by SPPT for the tapering treatment within PBL. Comparisons between the operational SPPT scheme and the mSPPT scheme reveal that the mSPPT scheme can generate more improvements in both ensemble reliability and forecast skills mainly in tropics. Besides, additional benefits from SPP-PBL on top of mSPPT are shown to be primarily distributed in tropics at the lower layers below 850 hPa and surface. Furthermore, the combined scheme of mSPPT and SPP-PBL is suggested to yield better spread-error relationships and forecast skills than the operational SPPT scheme in terms of objective verification scores for standard upper-air variables and surface parameters. A case study for the extreme precipitation event on 20 July 2021 in Henan Province of China also demonstrates the better ability of the combined scheme in forecasting the precipitation intensity and location.

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John D. Horel
and
James T. Powell

Abstract

While many studies have examined intense rainfall and flash flooding during the North American monsoon (NAM) in Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico, less attention has focused on the NAM’s extension into southwestern Utah. This study relates flash flood reports and Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) precipitation across southwestern Utah to atmospheric moisture content and instability analyses and forecasts from the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model during the 2021–23 monsoon seasons. MRMS quantitative precipitation estimates over southwestern Utah during the summer depend largely on the areal coverage from the KICX WSR-88D radar near Cedar City, Utah. Those estimates are generally consistent with the limited number of precipitation gauge reports in the region except at extended distances from the radar. A strong relationship is evident between days with widespread precipitation and afternoons with above-average precipitable water (PWAT) and convective available potential energy (CAPE) estimated from HRRR analyses across the region. Time-lagged ensembles of HRRR forecasts (initialization times from 0300 to 0600 UTC) that are 13–18 h prior to the afternoon period when convection is initiating (1800–2100 UTC) are useful for situational awareness of widespread precipitation events after adjusting for underprediction of afternoon CAPE. Improved skill is possible using random forest classification relying only on PWAT and CAPE to predict days experiencing excessive (upper quartile) precipitation. Such HRRR predictions may be useful for forecasters at the Salt Lake City National Weather Service Forecast Office to assist in issuing flash flood potential statements for visitors to national parks and other recreational areas in the region.

Significance Statement

Summer flash floods in southwestern Utah are a risk to area residents and millions of visitors annually to the region’s national parks, monuments, and recreational areas. The likelihood of flash floods within the region’s catchments depends on the intense afternoon and early evening convection initiated by lift and instability primarily due to terrain–flow interactions over elevated plateaus and mountains. Forecasts at lead times of 13–18 h of moisture and instability from the operational High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model have the potential to predict summer afternoons that are likely to have increased risks for higher rainfall amounts across southwestern Utah, although they are not expected to predict the likelihood of flash floods in any specific locale.

Open access
Timothy J. Wagner
,
Ralph A. Petersen
,
Richard D. Mamrosh
,
Jordan Gerth
,
Curtis H. Marshall
, and
James M. O’Sullivan

Abstract

Aircraft-based observations (ABOs) are an important component of the global observation system. Observations of pressure, temperature, and wind are obtained from thousands of routine commercial flights daily via the Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay (AMDAR) program, while a subset of approximately 145 aircraft globally (and 135 within the conterminous United States) also produces observations of water vapor from the Water Vapor Sensing System–II (WVSS–II). Aircraft equipped with WVSS–II provide the basic parameters as radiosonde observations throughout most of the troposphere, often at higher temporal and spatial frequency. Since these aircraft are operated according to the demands of passenger and cargo, the availability of aircraft profiles varies significantly in space and time, with more profiles during daytime and early evening than overnight, more profiles on weekdays than weekends, and more during the summer months. The number of available profiles was significantly impacted by reductions in travel during the COVID-19 pandemic but has recovered substantially. The potential for aircraft profiles to support the operational radiosonde network is explored, including the effect of various spatial and temporal matching criteria. Radiosonde launches at 0000 UTC that are well aligned with aircraft profiles are found across the conterminous United States, but well-covered 1200 UTC launches are strongly biased to the east. ABO coverage of asynoptic launch times is also explored. The busiest sites usually have multiple compatible aircraft profiles at both synoptic and asynoptic times. This redundancy lends robustness to the observation network and enables forecasters to monitor atmospheric evolution more continuously throughout the day.

Significance Statement

Some commercial aircraft make the same observations as weather balloons, but there is not a good record of how frequently these observations are made at specific locations. This paper does a census of where the airplane profile observations are most likely to be found and shows where they are duplicating weather balloon observations and where they are filling in the gaps in the weather balloon network.

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