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Lizzie S. R. Froude
,
Lennart Bengtsson
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

A new method for assessing forecast skill and predictability that involves the identification and tracking of extratropical cyclones has been developed and implemented to obtain detailed information about the prediction of cyclones that cannot be obtained from more conventional analysis methodologies. The cyclones were identified and tracked along the forecast trajectories, and statistics were generated to determine the rate at which the position and intensity of the forecasted storms diverge from the analyzed tracks as a function of forecast lead time. The results show a higher level of skill in predicting the position of extratropical cyclones than the intensity. They also show that there is potential to improve the skill in predicting the position by 1–1.5 days and the intensity by 2–3 days, via improvements to the forecast model. Further analysis shows that forecasted storms move at a slower speed than analyzed storms on average and that there is a larger error in the predicted amplitudes of intense storms than the weaker storms. The results also show that some storms can be predicted up to 3 days before they are identified as an 850-hPa vorticity center in the analyses. In general, the results show a higher level of skill in the Northern Hemisphere (NH) than the Southern Hemisphere (SH); however, the rapid growth of NH winter storms is not very well predicted. The impact that observations of different types have on the prediction of the extratropical cyclones has also been explored, using forecasts integrated from analyses that were constructed from reduced observing systems. A terrestrial, satellite, and surface-based system were investigated and the results showed that the predictive skill of the terrestrial system was superior to the satellite system in the NH. Further analysis showed that the satellite system was not very good at predicting the growth of the storms. In the SH the terrestrial system has significantly less skill than the satellite system, highlighting the dominance of satellite observations in this hemisphere. The surface system has very poor predictive skill in both hemispheres.

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Lizzie S. R. Froude
,
Lennart Bengtsson
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

The prediction of extratropical cyclones by the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) ensemble prediction systems (EPSs) has been investigated using an objective feature tracking methodology to identify and track the cyclones along the forecast trajectories. Overall the results show that the ECMWF EPS has a slightly higher level of skill than the NCEP EPS in the Northern Hemisphere (NH). However in the Southern Hemisphere (SH), NCEP has higher predictive skill than ECMWF for the intensity of the cyclones. The results from both EPSs indicate a higher level of predictive skill for the position of extratropical cyclones than their intensity and show that there is a larger spread in intensity than position. Further analysis shows that the predicted propagation speed of cyclones is generally too slow for the ECMWF EPS and shows a slight bias for the intensity of the cyclones to be overpredicted. This is also true for the NCEP EPS in the SH. For the NCEP EPS in the NH the intensity of the cyclones is underpredicted. There is small bias in both the EPS for the cyclones to be displaced toward the poles. For each ensemble forecast of each cyclone, the predictive skill of the ensemble member that best predicts the cyclone’s position and intensity was computed. The results are very encouraging showing that the predictive skill of the best ensemble member is significantly higher than that of the control forecast in terms of both the position and intensity of the cyclones. The prediction of cyclones before they are identified as 850-hPa vorticity centers in the analysis cycle was also considered. It is shown that an indication of extratropical cyclones can be given by at least 1 ensemble member 7 days before they are identified in the analysis. Further analysis of the ECMWF EPS shows that the ensemble mean has a higher level of skill than the control forecast, particularly for the intensity of the cyclones, from day 3 of the forecast. There is a higher level of skill in the NH than the SH and the spread in the SH is correspondingly larger. The difference between the ensemble mean error and spread is very small for the position of the cyclones, but the spread of the ensemble is smaller than the ensemble mean error for the intensity of the cyclones in both hemispheres. Results also show that the ECMWF control forecast has ½ to 1 day more skill than the perturbed members, for both the position and intensity of the cyclones, throughout the forecast.

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Pascal J. Mailier
,
David B. Stephenson
,
Christopher A. T. Ferro
, and
Kevin I. Hodges

Abstract

The clustering in time (seriality) of extratropical cyclones is responsible for large cumulative insured losses in western Europe, though surprisingly little scientific attention has been given to this important property. This study investigates and quantifies the seriality of extratropical cyclones in the Northern Hemisphere using a point-process approach. A possible mechanism for serial clustering is the time-varying effect of the large-scale flow on individual cyclone tracks. Another mechanism is the generation by one “parent” cyclone of one or more “offspring” through secondary cyclogenesis. A long cyclone-track database was constructed for extended October–March winters from 1950 to 2003 using 6-h analyses of 850-mb relative vorticity derived from the NCEP–NCAR reanalysis. A dispersion statistic based on the variance-to-mean ratio of monthly cyclone counts was used as a measure of clustering. It reveals extensive regions of statistically significant clustering in the European exit region of the North Atlantic storm track and over the central North Pacific. Monthly cyclone counts were regressed on time-varying teleconnection indices with a log-linear Poisson model. Five independent teleconnection patterns were found to be significant factors over Europe: the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the east Atlantic pattern, the Scandinavian pattern, the east Atlantic–western Russian pattern, and the polar–Eurasian pattern. The NAO alone is not sufficient for explaining the variability of cyclone counts in the North Atlantic region and western Europe. Rate dependence on time-varying teleconnection indices accounts for the variability in monthly cyclone counts, and a cluster process did not need to be invoked.

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Elliott M. Sainsbury
,
Reinhard K. H. Schiemann
,
Kevin I. Hodges
,
Alexander J. Baker
,
Len C. Shaffrey
, and
Kieran T. Bhatia

Abstract

Post-tropical cyclones (PTCs) can bring high winds and extreme precipitation to Europe. Although the structure and intensity of observed Europe-impacting PTCs has been investigated in previous studies, a quantitative understanding of the factors important for PTCs to reach Europe has not been established. By tracking and identifying the full life cycle of tropical cyclones (TCs) in the ERA5 reanalysis, we investigate why some PTCs impact Europe and why others do not, using a composite analysis. We show that PTCs that impact Europe are typically ∼4–6 m s−1 stronger at their lifetime maximum intensity and throughout the extratropical transition process. They are also twice as likely to reintensify in the midlatitudes. During ET, the Europe-impacting PTCs interact more strongly with an upstream upper-level trough in a significantly more baroclinic environment. The Europe-impacting PTCs are steered on a more poleward trajectory across a midlatitude jet streak. It is during the crossing of the jet that these cyclones often undergo their reintensification. Using contingency table analysis, TC lifetime maximum intensity, and whether post-ET reintensification occurs are shown to be significantly associated with the odds that a PTC reaches Europe. This supports our composite analysis and further indicates that TC intensity and reintensification both modulate the likelihood that a PTC will impact Europe.

Significance Statement

Some post-tropical cyclones (PTCs) reach Europe, often associated with extreme precipitation and high winds. It is currently unclear what factors allow this to occur. In this study, we track cyclones in two reanalyses using a feature tracking scheme and identify the PTCs by matching (in space and time) reanalysis tracks with observed tracks. Using a composite analysis, we show that 1) tropical cyclones (TCs) that are more intense, and 2) TCs that reintensify after extratropical transition, are more likely to reach Europe. TCs that reintensify interact strongly with an upper-level upstream trough and cross a midlatitude jet streak. Reintensification occurs as the cyclones cross this jet streak.

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