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Adam J. Clark
,
Andrew MacKenzie
,
Amy McGovern
,
Valliappa Lakshmanan
, and
Rodger A. Brown

Abstract

Moisture boundaries, or drylines, are common over the southern U.S. high plains and are one of the most important airmass boundaries for convective initiation over this region. In favorable environments, drylines can initiate storms that produce strong and violent tornadoes, large hail, lightning, and heavy rainfall. Despite their importance, there are few studies documenting climatological dryline location and frequency, or performing systematic dryline forecast evaluation, which likely stems from difficulties in objectively identifying drylines over large datasets. Previous studies have employed tedious manual identification procedures. This study aims to streamline dryline identification by developing an automated, multiparameter algorithm, which applies image-processing and pattern recognition techniques to various meteorological fields and their gradients to identify drylines. The algorithm is applied to five years of high-resolution 24-h forecasts from Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model simulations valid April–June 2007–11. Manually identified dryline positions, which were available from a previous study using the same dataset, are used as truth to evaluate the algorithm performance. Generally, the algorithm performed very well. High probability of detection (POD) scores indicated that the majority of drylines were identified by the method. However, a relatively high false alarm ratio (FAR) was also found, indicating that a large number of nondryline features were also identified. Preliminary use of random forests (a machine learning technique) significantly decreased the FAR, while minimally impacting the POD. The algorithm lays the groundwork for applications including model evaluation and operational forecasting, and should enable efficient analysis of drylines from very large datasets.

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David John Gagne II
,
Amy McGovern
,
Sue Ellen Haupt
,
Ryan A. Sobash
,
John K. Williams
, and
Ming Xue

Abstract

Forecasting severe hail accurately requires predicting how well atmospheric conditions support the development of thunderstorms, the growth of large hail, and the minimal loss of hail mass to melting before reaching the surface. Existing hail forecasting techniques incorporate information about these processes from proximity soundings and numerical weather prediction models, but they make many simplifying assumptions, are sensitive to differences in numerical model configuration, and are often not calibrated to observations. In this paper a storm-based probabilistic machine learning hail forecasting method is developed to overcome the deficiencies of existing methods. An object identification and tracking algorithm locates potential hailstorms in convection-allowing model output and gridded radar data. Forecast storms are matched with observed storms to determine hail occurrence and the parameters of the radar-estimated hail size distribution. The database of forecast storms contains information about storm properties and the conditions of the prestorm environment. Machine learning models are used to synthesize that information to predict the probability of a storm producing hail and the radar-estimated hail size distribution parameters for each forecast storm. Forecasts from the machine learning models are produced using two convection-allowing ensemble systems and the results are compared to other hail forecasting methods. The machine learning forecasts have a higher critical success index (CSI) at most probability thresholds and greater reliability for predicting both severe and significant hail.

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