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Qingyun Zhao, Thomas L. Black, and Michael E. Baldwin

Abstract

An explicit cloud prediction scheme has been developed and incorporated into the Eta Model at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to improve the cloud and precipitation forecasts. In this scheme, the cloud liquid water and cloud ice are explicitly predicted by adding only one prognostic equation of cloud mixing ratio to the model. Precipitation of rain and snow in this scheme is diagnostically calculated from the predicted cloud fields. The model-predicted clouds are also used in the model’s radiation calculations. Results from the parallel tests performed at NCEP show improvements in precipitation forecasts when prognostic cloud water is included. Compared with the diagnostic clouds, the model-predicted clouds are more accurate in both amount and position. Improvements in specific humidity forecasts have also been found, especially near the surface and above the freezing level.

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James L. Franklin, Michael L. Black, and Krystal Valde

Abstract

The recent development of the global positioning system (GPS) dropwindsonde has allowed the wind and thermodynamic structure of the hurricane eyewall to be documented with unprecedented accuracy and resolution. In an attempt to assist operational hurricane forecasters in their duties, dropwindsonde data have been used in this study to document, for the first time, the mean vertical profile of wind speed in the hurricane inner core from the surface to the 700-hPa level, the level typically flown by reconnaissance aircraft. The dropwindsonde-derived mean eyewall wind profile is characterized by a broad maximum centered 500 m above the surface. In the frictional boundary layer below this broad maximum, the wind decreases nearly linearly with the logarithm of the altitude. Above the maximum, the winds decrease because of the hurricane's warm core. These two effects combine to give a surface wind that is, on average, about 90% of the 700-hPa value. The dropwindsonde observations largely confirm recent operational practices at the National Hurricane Center for the interpretation of flight-level data. Hurricane wind profiles outside of the eyewall region are characterized by a higher level of maximum wind, near 1 km, and a more constant wind speed between 700 hPa and the top of the boundary layer. Two factors that likely affect the eyewall profile structure are wind speed and vertical motion. A minimum in surface wind adjustment factor (i.e., relatively low surface wind speeds) was found when the wind near the top of the boundary layer was between 40 and 60 m s−1. At higher wind speeds, the fraction of the boundary layer wind speed found at the surface increased, contrary to expectation. Low-level downdrafts, and enhanced vertical motion generally, were also associated with higher relative surface winds. These results may be of interest to engineers concerned with building codes, to emergency managers who may be tempted to use high-rise buildings as a “refuge of last resort” in coastal areas, and to those people on locally elevated terrain. The top of a 25-story coastal high-rise in the hurricane eyewall will experience a mean wind that is about 17% higher (or one Saffir–Simpson hurricane-scale category) than the surface or advisory value. For this reason, residents who must take refuge in coastal high-rises should generally do so at the lowest levels necessary to avoid storm surge.

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Mark D. Powell, Peter P. Dodge, and Michael L. Black

Abstract

Hurricane Hugo struck Charleston, South Carolina, on 22 September 1989 as the most intense hurricane to affect the United States since Camille in 1969. The northeastern eyewall, which contained the maximum winds measured by reconnaissance aircraft shortly before landfall, moved inland over a relatively unpopulated area and there were few fatalities. However, no observations were available to document the surface wind distribution in this part of the storm as it continued inland.

To improve specification of surface winds in Hugo, empirically adjusted aircraft winds were combined with coastal, offshore, and inland surface observations and were input to the Ooyama objective analysis algorithm. The wind analysis at landfall was then compared with subsequent analyses at 3 and 6 h after landfall. Reconstruction of the surface wind field at landfall suggests that the maximum (∼13 min mean) surface wind at the coast was 50 m s−1 in the Bulls Bay region, ∼40 km northeast of Charleston. Surface roughness over land caused wind speeds to drop off rapidly just inland of the coast to only 50% of values measured by reconnaissance aircraft at the same location relative to the storm over water. Despite relatively rapid increases in the central sea-level pressure and decreases in the mean circulation as Hugo progressed inland, hurricane-force wind gusts extended Hugo's damage pattern well past Charlotte, North Carolina, ∼330 km inland.

Accurate determination of surface wind distribution in land-falling hurricanes is dependent upon the spatial density and quality of surface wind measurements and techniques to adjust reconnaissance flight-level winds to the surface. Improvements should allow forecasters to prepare more-accurate warnings and advisories and allow more-thorough documentation of poststorm effects. Empirical adjustments to reconnaissance aircraft measurements may replace surface data voids if the vertical profile of the horizontal wind is known. Expanded use of the airborne stepped-frequency microwave radiometer for remote sensing of ocean surface winds could fill data voids without relying upon empirical methods or models. A larger network of offshore, coastal, and inland surface platforms at standard (10-m) elevations with improved sampling strategies is envisioned for better resolution of hurricane wind fields. A rapid-response automatic station network, deployed at prearranged coastal locations by local universities with meteorology and/or wind engineering programs, could further supplement the fixed platform network and avoid the logistical problems posed by sending outside teams into threatened areas.

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Eric Rogers, Thomas L. Black, Dennis G. Deaven, Geoffrey J. DiMego, Qingyun Zhao, Michael Baldwin, Norman W. Junker, and Ying Lin

Abstract

This note describes changes that have been made to the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) operational “early” eta model. The changes are 1) an decrease in horizontal grid spacing from 80 to 48 km, 2) incorporation of a cloud prediction scheme, 3) replacement of the original static analysis system with a 12-h intermittent data assimilation system using the eta model, and 4) the use of satellite-sensed total column water data in the eta optimum interpolation analysis. When tested separately, each of the four changes improved model performance. A quantitative and subjective evaluation of the full upgrade package during March and April 1995 indicated that the 48-km eta model was more skillful than the operational 80-km model in predicting the intensity and movement of large-scale weather systems. In addition, the 48-km eta model was more skillful in predicting severe mesoscale precipitation events than either the 80-km eta model, the nested grid model, or the NCEP global spectral model during the March-April 1995 period. The implementation of this new version of the operational early eta system was performed in October 1995.

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