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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 multi-model 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 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
Charles M. Kuster, Barry R. Bowers, Jacob T. Carlin, Terry J. Schuur, Jeff W. Brogden, Robert Toomey, and Andy Dean

Abstract

Decades of research has investigated processes that contribute to downburst development, as well as identified precursor radar signatures that can accompany these events. These advancements have increased downburst predictability, but downbursts still pose a significant forecast challenge, especially in low-shear environments that produce short-lived single and multicell thunderstorms. Additional information provided by dual-polarization radar data may prove useful in anticipating downburst development. One such radar signature is the KDP core, which can indicate processes such as melting and precipitation loading that increase negative buoyancy and can result in downburst development. Therefore, KDP cores associated with 81 different downbursts across 10 states are examined to explore if this signature could provide forecasters with a reliable and useable downburst precursor signature. KDP core characteristics near the environmental melting layer, vertical gradients of KDP, and environmental conditions were quantified to identify any differences between downbursts of varying intensities. The analysis shows that 1) KDP cores near the environmental melting layer are a reliable signal that a downburst will develop, 2) while using KDP cores to anticipate an impending downburst’s intensity is challenging, larger KDP near the melting layer and larger vertical gradients of KDP are more commonly associated with strong downbursts than weak ones, 3) downbursts occurring in environments with less favorable conditions for downbursts are associated with higher magnitude KDP cores, and 4) KDP cores evolve relatively slowly (typically longer than 15 min), which makes them easily observable with the 5-min volumetric updates currently provided by operational radars.

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Aaron J. Hill, Christopher C. Weiss, and David C. Dowell

Abstract

Ensemble forecasts are generated with and without the assimilation of near-surface observations from a portable, mesoscale network of StickNet platforms during the Verification and Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment – Southeast (VORTEX-SE). Four VORTEX-SE intensive observing periods are selected to evaluate the impact of StickNet observations on forecasts and predictability of deep convection within the southeast United States. StickNet observations are assimilated with an experimental version of the HighResolution RapidRefresh Ensemble (HRRRE) in one experiment, and withheld in a control forecast experiment. Overall, StickNet observations are found to effectively reduce mesoscale analysis and forecast errors of temperature and dewpoint. Differences in ensemble analyses between the two parallel experiments are maximized near the StickNet array and then either propagate away with the mean low-level flow through the forecast period or remain quasi-stationary, reducing local analysis biases. Forecast errors of temperature and dewpoint exhibit periods of improvement and degradation relative to the control forecast, and error increases are largely driven on the storm scale. Convection predictability, measured through subjective evaluation and objective verification of forecast updraft helicity, is driven more by when forecasts are initialized (i.e., more data assimilation cycles with conventional observations) rather than the inclusion of StickNet observations in data assimilation. It is hypothesized that the full impact of assimilating these data is not realized in part due to poor sampling of forecast sensitive regions by the StickNet platforms, as identified through ensemble sensitivity analysis.

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P. Schaumann, R. Hess, M. Rempel, U. Blahak, and V. Schmidt

Abstract

The seamless combination of nowcasting and numerical weather prediction (NWP) aims to provide a functional basis for very-short-term forecasts, that are essential e.g. for weather warnings. In this paper we propose a statistical method for precipitation using neural networks (NN) that combines nowcasting data from DWD’s radar based RadVOR system with post-processed forecasts of the high resolving NWP ensemble COSMO-DE-EPS. The postprocessing is performed by Ensemble-MOS of DWD. Whereas the quality of the nowcasting projections of RadVOR is excellent at the beginning, it declines rapidly after about 2 hours. The post-processed forecasts of COSMO-DE-EPS in contrast start with lower accuracy but provide meaningful information on longer forecast ranges. The combination of the two systems is performed for probabilities that the expected precipitation amounts exceed a series of predefined thresholds. The resulting probabilistic forecasts are calibrated and outperform both input systems in terms of accuracy for forecast ranges from 1 to 6 hours as shown by verification.

The proposed NN-model generalises a previous statistical model based on extended logistic regression, which was restricted to only one threshold of 0.1 mm. The various layers of the NN-model are related to the conventional design elements (e.g. triangular functions and interaction terms) of the previous model for easier insight.

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Sarah Tessendorf, Allyson Rugg, Alexei Korolev, Ivan Heckman, Courtney Weeks, Gregory Thompson, Darcy Jacobson, Dan Adriaansen, and Julie Haggerty

Abstract

Supercooled large drop (SLD) icing poses a unique hazard for aircraft and has resulted in new regulations regarding aircraft certification to fly in regions of known or forecast SLD icing conditions. The new regulations define two SLD icing categories based upon the maximum supercooled liquid water drop diameter (Dmax): freezing drizzle (100–500 μm) and freezing rain (> 500 μm). Recent upgrades to U.S. operational numerical weather prediction models lay a foundation to provide more relevant aircraft icing guidance including the potential to predict explicit drop size. The primary focus of this paper is to evaluate a proposed method for estimating the maximum drop size from model forecast data to differentiate freezing drizzle from freezing rain conditions. Using in-situ cloud microphysical measurements collected in icing conditions during two field campaigns between January and March 2017, this study shows that the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model is capable of distinguishing SLD icing categories of freezing drizzle and freezing rain using a Dmax extracted from the rain category of the microphysics output. It is shown that the extracted Dmax from the model correctly predicted the observed SLD icing category as much as 99% of the time when the HRRR accurately forecast SLD conditions; however, performance varied by the method to define Dmax and by the field campaign dataset used for verification.

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Shu-Ya Chen, Cheng-Peng Shih, Ching-Yuang Huang, and Wen-Hsin Teng

Abstract

Conventional soundings are rather limited over the western North Pacific and can be largely compensated by GNSS radio occultation (RO) data. We utilize the GSI hybrid assimilation system to assimilate RO data and the multi-resolution global model (MPAS) to investigate the RO data impact on prediction of Typhoon Nepartak that passed over southern Taiwan in 2016. In this study, the performances of assimilation with local RO refractivity and bending angle operators are compared for the assimilation analysis and typhoon forecast.

Assimilations with both RO data have shown similar and comparable temperature and moisture increments after cycling assimilation and largely reduce the RMSEs of the forecast without RO data assimilation at later times. The forecast results at 60-15-km resolution show that RO data assimilation largely improves the typhoon track prediction compared to that without RO data assimilation, and assimilation with bending angle has better performances than assimilation with refractivity, in particular for wind forecast. The improvement in the forecasted track is mainly due to the improved simulation for the translation of the typhoon. Diagnostics of wavenumber-one potential vorticity (PV) tendency budget indicates that the northwestward typhoon translation dominated by PV horizontal advection is slowed down by the southward tendency induced by the stronger differential diabatic heating south of the typhoon center for bending-angle assimilation. Simulations with the enhanced resolution of 3 km in the region of the storm track show further improvements in both typhoon track and intensity prediction with RO data assimilation. Positive RO impacts on track prediction are also illustrated for other two typhoons using the MPAS-GSI system.

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Matthew T. Bray, David D. Turner, and Gijs de Boer

Abstract

Despite a need for accurate weather forecasts for societal and economic interests in the U.S. Arctic, thorough evaluations of operational numerical weather prediction in the region have been limited. In particular, the Rapid Refresh Model (RAP), which plays a key role in short-term forecasting and decision making, has seen very limited assessment in northern Alaska, with most evaluation efforts focused on lower latitudes. In the present study, we verify forecasts from version 4 of the RAP against radiosonde, surface meteorological, and radiative flux observations from two Arctic sites on the northern Alaskan coastline, with a focus on boundary-layer thermodynamic and dynamic biases, model representation of surface inversions, and cloud characteristics. We find persistent seasonal thermodynamic biases near the surface that vary with wind direction, and may be related to the RAP’s handling of sea ice and ocean interactions. These biases seem to have diminished in the latest version of the RAP (version 5), which includes refined handling of sea ice, among other improvements. In addition, we find that despite capturing boundary-layer temperature profiles well overall, the RAP struggles to consistently represent strong, shallow surface inversions. Further, while the RAP seems to forecast the presence of clouds accurately in most cases, there are errors in the simulated characteristics of these clouds, which we hypothesize may be related to the RAP’s treatment of mixed-phase clouds.

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Cui Liu, Jianhua Sun, Xinlin Yang, Shuanglong Jin, and Shenming Fu

Abstract

Precipitation forecasts from the ECMWF model from March to September during 2015–2018 were evaluated using observed precipitation at 2411 stations from the China Meteorological Administration. To eliminate the influence of varying climatology in different regions in China, the Stable Equitable Error in Probability Space method was used to obtain criteria for 3-h and 6-h accumulated precipitation at each station and classified precipitation into light, medium, and heavy precipitation. The model was evaluated for these categories using categorical and continuous methods. The threat score and the equitable threat score showed that the model’s forecasts of rainfall were generally more accurate at shorter lead times, and the best performance occurred in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River Basin. The miss ratio for heavy precipitation was higher in the northern region than in the southern region, while heavy precipitation false alarms were more frequent in the southwestern China. Overall, the miss ratio and false alarm ratio for heavy precipitation were highest in northern China and western China, respectively. For light and medium precipitation, the model performed best in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River Basin. The model predicted too much light and medium precipitation, but too little heavy precipitation. Heavy precipitation was generally underestimated over all of China, especially in the western region of China, South China, and the Yungui Plateau. Heavy precipitation was systematically underestimated because of the resolution and the related parametrization of convection.

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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