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Briana E. Stewart, Jason M. Cordeira, and F. Martin Ralph

Abstract

Atmospheric Rivers (ARs) are long and narrow regions in the atmosphere of enhanced integrated water vapor transport (IVT) and can produce extreme precipitation and high societal impacts. Reliable and skillful forecasts of landfalling ARs in the Western US are critical to hazard preparation and aid in decision support activities, such as Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations. The purpose of this study is to compare the cool-season water year skill of the NCEP Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS) and ECMWF Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) forecasts of IVT along the U.S. West Coast for 2017–2020. The skill is analyzed using probability-over-threshold forecasts of IVT magnitudes ≥250 kg m−1 s−1 (P250) using contingency table skill metrics in coastal northern California and along the west coast of North America. Analysis of P250 with lead-time (dProg/dt) found the EPS provided ~1-day of additional lead-time for situational awareness over the GEFS at lead times of 6–10-days. Forecast skill analysis highlights that the EPS leads over the GEFS with success ratios 0.10 to 0.15 higher at lead times >6 days for P250 thresholds of ≥25% and ≥50%, while event-based skill analysis using the probability of detection (POD) found that both models were largely similar with minor latitudinal variations favoring higher POD for each model in different locations along the coast. The relative skill of the EPS over the GEFS is largely attributed to over-forecasting by the GEFS at longer lead times and an increase in the false alarm ratio.

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Bong-Chul Seo, Marcela Rojas, Felipe Quintero, Witold F. Krajewski, and Dong Ha Kim

Abstract

This study demonstrates an approach to expand and improve the current prediction capability of the National Water Model (NWM). The primary objective is to examine potential benefit of real-time local stage measurements in streamflow prediction, particularly for local communities that do not benefit from the improved streamflow forecasts due to the current data assimilation (DA) scheme. The proposed approach incorporates real-time local stage measurements into the NWM streamflow DA procedure by using synthetic rating curves (SRC) developed based on an established open channel flow model. For streamflow DA and its evaluation, we used six-year (2016–2021) data collected from 140 United States Geological Survey (USGS) stations, where quality-assured rating curves are consistently maintained (verification stations), and 310 stage-only stations operated by the Iowa Flood Center and the USGS in Iowa. The evaluation result from NWM’s current DA configuration based on the USGS verification stations indicated that DA improves streamflow prediction skills significantly downstream from the station locations. This improvement tends to increase as drainage scale becomes larger. The result from the new DA configuration including all stage-only sensors showed expanded domain of improved predictions, compared to those from the open-loop simulation. This reveals that the real-time low-cost stage sensors are beneficial for streamflow prediction, particularly at small basins, while their utility appears to be limited at large drainage areas because of the inherent limitations of lidar-based channel geometry used for the SRC development. The framework presented in this study can be readily applied to include numerous stage-only stream gauges nationwide in the NWM modeling and forecasting procedures.

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Brian J. Squitieri and William A. Gallus Jr.

Abstract

The degree of improvement in convective representation in NWP with horizontal grid spacings finer than 3 km remains debatable. While some research suggests sub-km horizontal grid spacing is needed to resolve details of convective structures, other studies have shown that decreasing grid spacing from 3-4 km to 1-2 km offers little additional value for forecasts of deep convection. In addition, few studies exist to show how changes in vertical grid spacing impact thunderstorm forecasts, especially when horizontal grid spacing is simultaneously decreased. The present research investigates how warm-season central U.S. simulated MCS cold pools for eleven observed cases are impacted by decreasing horizontal grid spacing from 3 to 1 km while increasing the vertical levels from 50 to 100 in WRF runs. 3 km runs with 100 levels produced the deepest and most negatively buoyant cold pools compared to all other grid spacings since updrafts were more poorly resolved, resulting in a higher flux of rearward-advected frozen hydrometeors, whose melting processes were augmented by the finer vertical grid spacing, which better resolved the melting layer. However, the more predominant signal among all eleven cases was for more expansive cold pools in 1 km runs, where the stronger and more abundant updrafts focused along the MCS leading line supported a larger volume of concentrated rearward hydrometeor advection and resultant latent cooling at lower levels.

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Brian J. Squitieri and William A. Gallus Jr.

Abstract

Several past studies have demonstrated improvement in forecasting convective precipitation by decreasing model grid spacing to the point of explicitly resolving deep convection. Real-case convective modeling studies have attempted to identify what model grid spacing feasibly provides the most optimal forecast given computational constraints. While part I of this manuscript investigated changes in MCS cold pool characteristics with varied vertical and horizontal grid spacing, part II explores changes in skill for MCS spatial placement, forward speed, and QPFs among runs with decreased horizontal and vertical grid spacing by employing the same WRF-ARW runs as in part I. QPF forecast skill significantly improved for later portions of the MCS life cycle when decreasing horizontal grid spacing from 3 to 1 km with the part-double-moment Thompson microphysics scheme. Some improvements were present in QPFs with higher precipitation amounts in the early stages of MCSs simulated with the single-moment WSM6 microphysics scheme. However, significant improvements were not common with MCS placement or QPF of the entire precipitation swath with either the Thompson or WSM6 schemes, suggesting that the benefit to MCS QPFs with decreased horizontal grid spacings is limited. Furthermore, increasing vertical resolution from 50 to 100 levels worsened WSM6 scheme QPF skill in some cases, suggesting that choices of or improvement in model physics may be equally or more positively impactful to NWP forecasts than grid spacing changes.

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Jean-François Caron and Mark Buehner

The approach of applying different amounts of horizontal localization to different ranges of background-error covariance horizontal scales as proposed by Buehner and Shlyaeva (2015) was recently implemented in the four-dimensional ensemble-variational (4DEnVar) data assimilation scheme of the global deterministic prediction system (GDPS) at Environment and Climate Change Canada operations. To maximize the benefits from this approach to reduce the sampling noise in the ensemble-derived background-error covariances, it was necessary to adopt a new weighting between the climatological and flow-dependent covariances that increases significantly the role of the latter. Thus, in December 2021 the GDPS became the first operational global deterministic medium-range weather forecasting system to rely completely on flow-dependent covariances in the troposphere and the lower stratosphere. The experiments that led to the adoption of these two related changes and their impacts on the forecasts up to 7 days for various regions of the globe during the boreal summer of 2019 and winter of 2020 are presented here. It is also illustrated that relying more on ensemble-derived covariances amplifies the positive impacts on the GDPS when the background ensemble generation strategy is improved.

Open access
Li Jia, Fumin Ren, Chenchen Ding, and Mingyang Wang

Abstract

The Dynamical–Statistical–Analog Ensemble Forecast model for landfalling typhoon precipitation (DSAEF_LTP) was developed as a supplementary method to numerical weather prediction (NWP). A successful strategy for improving the forecasting skill of the DSAEF_LTP model is to include as many relevant variables as possible in the generalized initial value (GIV) of this model. In this study, a new variable, TC translation speed, is incorporated into the DSAEF_LTP model, producing a new version of this model named DSAEF_LTP-4. Then, the best scheme of the model for South China is obtained by applying this model to the forecast of the accumulated rainfall of thirteen landfalling tropical cyclones (LTCs) that occurred over South China during 2012–2014. In addition, the forecast performance of the best scheme is estimated by forecast experiments with eight LTCs in 2015–2016 over South China, and then compared to that of the other versions of the DSAEF_LTP model and three NWP models (i.e., ECMWF, GFS and T639). Results show further the improved performance of the DSAEF_LTP-4 model in simulating precipitation of ≥ 250 and ≥ 100 mm. However, the forecast performance of DSAEF_LTP-4 is less satisfactory than DSAEF_LTP-2. This mainly because of a large proportion of TCs with anomalous tracks and more sensitivity to the characteristics of experiment samples of DSAEF_LTP-4. Of significance is that the DSAEF_LTP model performs better than three NWP models for LTCs with typical tracks.

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Ryohei Kato, Shingo Shimizu, Tadayasu Ohigashi, Takeshi Maesaka, Ken-ichi Shimose, and Koyuru Iwanami

Meso-γ-scale (2–20 km) local heavy rain (LHR) can cause fatalities through the sudden rise of rivers and flooding of roads. To help prevent this loss of life, we developed prediction methods for these types of meteorological hazards. We assimilated ground-based cloud radar (Ka-band radar) data that can capture cloud droplets before raindrops form and attempted to predict LHR with a cloud resolving numerical weather prediction (NWP) model. High-temporal (1-min interval) three-dimensional cloud-radar data obtained through special observation were assimilated using a water vapor nudging method in the pre-rain stage of an LHR-causing cumulonimbus. While rainfall was not predicted by the NWP model without assimilation, LHR was predicted approximately 20 min after the conclusion of cloud-radar data assimilation cycling. Results suggest that NWP with cloud-radar data assimilation in the pre-rain stage has great potential for predicting LHR, and can lead to an early evacuation warning and subsequent evacuation of vulnerable populations.

Open access
Szymon PorĘba, Mateusz Taszarek, and Zbigniew Ustrnul

Abstract

The relationship between convective parameters derived from ERA5 and cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning flashes from the PERUN network in Poland was evaluated. All flashes detected between 2002 and 2019 were divided into intensity categories based on a peak 1-min CG lightning flash rate and were collocated with proximal profiles from ERA5 to assess their climatological variability. Thunderstorms in Poland are the most frequent in July, between 1400 and 1600 UTC and over the southeastern parts of the country. The highest median of most unstable convective available potential energy (MUCAPE) for CG lightning flash events is from June to August, between 1400 and 1600 UTC (around 900 J kg−1), whereas patterns in 0–6-km wind shear [deep-layer shear (DLS)] are reversed, with the highest median values during winter and night (around 25 m s−1). The best overlap of MUCAPE and DLS (MUWMAXSHEAR parameter) is in July–August, typically between 1400 and 2000 UTC with median values of around 850 m2 s−2. Thunderstorms in Poland are the most frequent in MUCAPE below 1000 J kg−1, and DLS between 8 and 15 m s−1. Along with increasing MUCAPE and DLS, peak CG lightning flash rates increase as well. Compared to DLS, MUCAPE is a more important parameter in forecasting any lightning activity, but when these two are combined together (MUWMAXSHEAR) they are more reliable in distinguishing between thunderstorms producing small and high CG lightning flash rates. Our results also indicate that higher CG lightning flash rates result in thunderstorms more frequently associated with severe weather reports (hail, tornado, wind).

Significance Statement

Each year severe thunderstorms produce considerable material losses and lead to deaths across central Europe; thus, a better understanding of local storm climatologies and their accompanying environments is important for operational forecasters, emergency managers, and risk estimation. In this research we address this issue by analyzing 18 years of lightning intensity data and collocated atmospheric environments. Thunderstorms in Poland are the most frequent in July between 1400 and 1600 UTC and form typically in environments with low atmospheric instability and moderate vertical shear of the horizontal wind. The probability for storms producing intense lightning increases when both of these environmental parameters reach higher values.

Open access
Wei Wang

Abstract

A scale-aware convective parameterization based on the Tiedtke scheme is developed and tested in the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model and the Model for Prediction Across Scales (MPAS) for a few convective cases at grid sizes in the ranges of 1.5–4.5 km. These tests demonstrate that the scale-aware scheme effectively reduces the outcome of deep convection by decreasing the convective portion of the total surface precipitation. When compared to the model runs that use microphysics without the cumulus parameterization at these grid sizes, the modified Tiedtke scheme is shown to improve some aspects of the precipitation forecasts. When the scheme is applied on a variable mesh in MPAS, it handles the convection across the mesh transition zones smoothly.

Significance Statement

Representing convection accounting for variations in the size of grid mesh is crucial in numerical models with variable resolutions, and in precipitation events where convection is not well depicted even by a model mesh of a few kilometers. Many convective parameterizations have already considered this grid-size dependency. This paper fills a gap by applying the same concept to a different convective parameterization, and evaluating it in a few precipitation forecast scenarios.

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David C. Dowell, Curtis R. Alexander, Eric P. James, Stephen S. Weygandt, Stanley G. Benjamin, Geoffrey S. Manikin, Benjamin T. Blake, John M. Brown, Joseph B. Olson, Ming Hu, Tatiana G. Smirnova, Terra Ladwig, Jaymes S. Kenyon, Ravan Ahmadov, David D. Turner, Jeffrey D. Duda, and Trevor I. Alcott

Abstract

The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) is a convection-allowing implementation of the Advanced Research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF-ARW) Model with hourly data assimilation that covers the conterminous United States and Alaska and runs in real time at the NOAA/National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). Implemented operationally at NOAA/NCEP in 2014, the HRRR features 3-km horizontal grid spacing and frequent forecasts (hourly for CONUS and 3-hourly for Alaska). HRRR initialization is designed for optimal short-range forecast skill with a particular focus on the evolution of precipitating systems. Key components of the initialization are radar-reflectivity data assimilation, hybrid ensemble-variational assimilation of conventional weather observations, and a cloud analysis to initialize stratiform cloud layers. From this initial state, HRRR forecasts are produced out to 18 h every hour, and out to 48 h every 6 h, with boundary conditions provided by the Rapid Refresh system. Between 2014 and 2020, HRRR development was focused on reducing model bias errors and improving forecast realism and accuracy. Improved representation of the planetary boundary layer, subgrid-scale clouds, and land surface contributed extensively to overall HRRR improvements. The final version of the HRRR (HRRRv4), implemented in late 2020, also features hybrid data assimilation using flow-dependent covariances from a 3-km, 36-member ensemble (“HRRRDAS”) with explicit convective storms. HRRRv4 also includes prediction of wildfire smoke plumes. The HRRR provides a baseline capability for evaluating NOAA’s next-generation Rapid Refresh Forecast System, now under development.

Significance Statement

NOAA’s operational hourly updating, convection-allowing model, the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR), is a key tool for short-range weather forecasting and situational awareness. Improvements in assimilation of weather observations, as well as in physics parameterizations, have led to improvements in simulated radar reflectivity and quantitative precipitation forecasts since the initial implementation of HRRR in September 2014. Other targeted development has focused on improved representation of the diurnal cycle of the planetary boundary layer, resulting in improved near-surface temperature and humidity forecasts. Additional physics and data assimilation changes have led to improved treatment of the development and erosion of low-level clouds, including subgrid-scale clouds. The final version of HRRR features storm-scale ensemble data assimilation and explicit prediction of wildfire smoke plumes.

Open access