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David R. Novak
,
Keith F. Brill
, and
Wallace A. Hogsett

Abstract

An objective technique to determine forecast snowfall ranges consistent with the risk tolerance of users is demonstrated. The forecast snowfall ranges are based on percentiles from probability distribution functions that are assumed to be perfectly calibrated. A key feature of the technique is that the snowfall range varies dynamically, with the resultant ranges varying based on the spread of ensemble forecasts at a given forecast projection, for a particular case, for a particular location. Furthermore, this technique allows users to choose their risk tolerance, quantified in terms of the expected false alarm ratio for forecasts of snowfall range. The technique is applied to the 4–7 March 2013 snowstorm at two different locations (Chicago, Illinois, and Washington, D.C.) to illustrate its use in different locations with different forecast uncertainties. The snowfall range derived from the Weather Prediction Center Probabilistic Winter Precipitation Forecast suite is found to be statistically reliable for the day 1 forecast during the 2013/14 season, providing confidence in the practical applicability of the technique.

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