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Steven M. Cavallo, Ryan D. Torn, Chris Snyder, Christopher Davis, Wei Wang, and James Done


Real-time analyses and forecasts using an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) and the Advanced Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting Model (AHW) are evaluated from the 2009 North Atlantic hurricane season. This data assimilation system involved cycling observations that included conventional in situ data, tropical cyclone (TC) position, and minimum SLP and synoptic dropsondes each 6 h using a 96-member ensemble on a 36-km domain for three months. Similar to past studies, observation assimilation systematically reduces the TC position and minimum SLP errors, except for strong TCs, which are characterized by large biases due to grid resolution. At 48 different initialization times, an AHW forecast on 12-, 4-, and 1.33-km grids is produced with initial conditions drawn from a single analysis member. Whereas TC track analyses and forecasts exhibit a pronounced northward bias, intensity forecast errors are similar to (lower than) the NWS Hurricane Weather Research Model (HWRF) and GFDL forecasts for forecast lead times ≤60 h (>60 h), with the largest track errors associated with the weakest systems, such as Tropical Storm (TS) Erika. Several shortcomings of the data assimilation system are addressed through postseason sensitivity tests, including using the maximum 800-hPa circulation to identify the TC position during assimilation and turning off the quality control for the TC minimum SLP observation when the initial intensity is far too weak. In addition, the improved forecast of TS Erika relative to HWRF is shown to be related to having initial conditions that are more representative of a sheared TC and not using a cumulus parameterization.

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Chaing Chen, Wei-Kuo Tao, Pay-Liam Lin, George S. Lai, S-F. Tseng, and Tai-Chi Chen Wang


During the period of 21–25 June 1991, a mei-yu front, observed by the post–Taiwan Area Mesoscale Experiment, produced heavy precipitation along the western side of the Central Mountain Range of Taiwan. Several oceanic mesoscale convective systems were also generated in an area extending from Taiwan to Hong Kong. Numerical experiments using the Penn State–NCAR MM5 mesoscale model were used to understand the intensification of the low-level jet (LLJ). These processes include thermal wind adjustment and convective, inertial, and conditional symmetric instabilities.

Three particular circulations are important in the development of the mei-yu front. First, there is a northward branch of the circulation that develops across the upper-level jet and is mainly caused by the thermal wind adjustment as air parcels enter an upper-level jet streak. The upper-level divergence associated with this branch of the circulation triggers convection.

Second, the southward branch of the circulation, with its rising motion in the frontal region and equatorward sinking motion, is driven by frontal vertical deep convection. The return flow of this circulation at low levels can produce an LLJ through geostrophic adjustment. The intensification of the LLJ is sensitive to the presence of convection.

Third, there is a circulation that develops from low to middle levels that has a slantwise rising and sinking motion in the pre- and postfrontal regions, respectively. From an absolute momentum surface analysis, this slantwise circulation is maintained by conditionally symmetric instability located at low levels ahead of the front. The presence of both the LLJ and moisture is an essential ingredient in fostering this conditionally symmetric unstable environment.

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Ya-Chien Feng, Hsiu-Wei Hsu, Tammy M. Weckwerth, Pay-Liam Lin, Yu-Chieng Liou, and Tai-Chi Chen Wang


The radar-retrieved refractivity fields provide detailed depictions of the near-surface moisture distribution at the meso-γ scale. This study represents a novel application of the refractivity fields by examining the spatiotemporal characteristics of moisture variability in a summertime coastal region in Taiwan over 4 weeks. The physiography in Taiwan lends itself to a variety of flow features and corresponding moisture behavior, which has not been well studied. High-resolution refractivity analyses demonstrate how a highly variable moisture field is related to the complex interaction between the synoptic-scale winds, diurnal local circulations, terrain, storms, and heterogeneous land use. On average, higher refractivity (water vapor) is observed along the coastline and refractivity decreases inland toward the foothills. Under weak synoptic forcing conditions, the daytime refractivity field develops differently under local surface wind directions determined by the synoptic-scale prevailing wind and the sea-breeze fronts. High moisture penetrates inland toward the foothills with southwesterly winds, but it stalls along the coastline with southerly and northwesterly winds. The moisture distribution may further affect the occurrence of the inland afternoon storms. During the nighttime, the dry downslope wind decreases the moisture from the foothills toward the coast and forms a refractivity gradient perpendicular to the meridionally oriented mountains. Furthermore, the refractivity fields illustrate higher-resolution moisture distribution over surface station point measurements by showing the lagged daytime sea-breeze front between the urban and rural areas and the detailed nighttime heterogeneous moisture distribution related to land-use and rivers.

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Christopher Davis, Wei Wang, Shuyi S. Chen, Yongsheng Chen, Kristen Corbosiero, Mark DeMaria, Jimy Dudhia, Greg Holland, Joe Klemp, John Michalakes, Heather Reeves, Richard Rotunno, Chris Snyder, and Qingnong Xiao


Real-time forecasts of five landfalling Atlantic hurricanes during 2005 using the Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) (ARW) Model at grid spacings of 12 and 4 km revealed performance generally competitive with, and occasionally superior to, other operational forecasts for storm position and intensity. Recurring errors include 1) excessive intensification prior to landfall, 2) insufficient momentum exchange with the surface, and 3) inability to capture rapid intensification when observed. To address these errors several augmentations of the basic community model have been designed and tested as part of what is termed the Advanced Hurricane WRF (AHW) model. Based on sensitivity simulations of Katrina, the inner-core structure, particularly the size of the eye, was found to be sensitive to model resolution and surface momentum exchange. The forecast of rapid intensification and the structure of convective bands in Katrina were not significantly improved until the grid spacing approached 1 km. Coupling the atmospheric model to a columnar, mixed layer ocean model eliminated much of the erroneous intensification of Katrina prior to landfall noted in the real-time forecast.

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