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Bryan J. Putnam, Youngsun Jung, Nusrat Yussouf, Derek Stratman, Timothy A. Supinie, Ming Xue, Charles Kuster, and Jonathan Labriola

Abstract

Assimilation of dual-polarization (dual-pol) observations provides more accurate storm-scale analyses to initialize forecasts of severe convective thunderstorms. This study investigates the impact assimilating experimental sector-scan dual-pol observations has on storm-scale ensemble forecasts and how this impact changes over different data assimilation (DA) windows using the ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF). Ensemble forecasts are initialized after 30, 45, and 60 minutes of DA for two sets of experiments that assimilate either reflectivity and radial velocity only (EXPZ) or reflectivity and radial velocity plus differential reflectivity (EXPZZDR). This study uses the 31 May 2013 Oklahoma event which included multiple storms that produced tornadoes and severe hail, with focus placed on two storms that impacted El Reno and Stillwater during the event.

The earliest initialized forecast of EXPZZDR better predicts the evolution of the El Reno storm than EXPZ, but the two sets of experiments become similar at subsequent forecast times. However, the later EXPZZDR forecasts of the Stillwater storm, which organized towards the end of the DA window, produce improved results compared to EXPZ, in which the storm is less intense and weakens. Evaluation of forecast products for supercell mesocyclones (updraft helicity [UH]) and hail show similar results with earlier EXPZZDR forecasts better predicting the UH swaths of the El Reno storm and later forecasts producing improved UH and hail swaths for the Stillwater storm. The results indicate that the assimilation of ZDR over fewer DA cycles can produce improved forecasts when DA windows sufficiently cover storms during their initial development and organization.

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Derek R. Stratman, Nusrat Yussouf, Youngsun Jung, Timothy A. Supinie, Ming Xue, Patrick S. Skinner, and Bryan J. Putnam

Abstract

A potential replacement candidate for the aging operational WSR-88D infrastructure currently in place is the phased array radar (PAR) system. The current WSR-88Ds take ~5 min to produce a full volumetric scan of the atmosphere, whereas PAR technology allows for full volumetric scanning of the same atmosphere every ~1 min. How this increase in temporal frequency of radar observations might affect the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s (NSSL) Warn-on-Forecast system (WoFS), which is a storm-scale ensemble data assimilation and forecast system for severe convective weather, is unclear. Since radar data assimilation is critical for the WoFS, this study explores the optimal temporal frequency of PAR observations for storm-scale data assimilation using the 31 May 2013 El Reno, Oklahoma, tornadic supercell event. The National Severe Storms Laboratory’s National Weather Radar Testbed PAR in Norman, Oklahoma, began scanning this event more than an hour before the first (and strongest) tornado developed near El Reno, and scanned most of the tornadic supercell’s evolution. Several experiments using various cycling and data frequencies to synchronously and asynchronously assimilate these PAR observations are conducted to produce analyses and very short-term forecasts of the El Reno supercell. Forecasts of low-level reflectivity and midlevel updraft helicity are subjectively evaluated and objectively verified using spatial and object-based techniques. Results indicate that assimilating more frequent PAR observations can lead to more accurate analyses and probabilistic forecasts of the El Reno supercell at longer lead times. Hence, PAR is a promising radar platform for WoFS.

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Rong Kong, Ming Xue, Alexandre O. Fierro, Youngsun Jung, Chengsi Liu, Edward R. Mansell, and Donald R. MacGorman

Abstract

The recently launched Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite “R-series” (GOES-R) satellites carry the Geostationary Lightning Mapper (GLM) that measures from space the total lightning rate in convective storms at high spatial and temporal frequencies. This study assimilates, for the first time, real GLM total lightning data in an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) framework. The lightning flash extent density (FED) products at 10-km pixel resolution are assimilated. The capabilities to assimilate GLM FED data are first implemented into the GSI-based EnKF data assimilation (DA) system and tested with a mesoscale convective system (MCS). FED observation operators based on graupel mass or graupel volume are used. The operators are first tuned through sensitivity experiments to determine an optimal multiplying factor to the operator, before being used in FED DA experiments FEDM and FEDV that use the graupel-mass or graupel-volume-based operator, respectively. Their results are compared to a control experiment (CTRL) that does not assimilate any FED data. Overall, both DA experiments outperform CTRL in terms of the analyses and short-term forecasts of FED and composite/3D reflectivity. The assimilation of FED is primarily effective in regions of deep moist convection, which helps improve short-term forecasts of convective threats, including heavy precipitation and lightning. Direct adjustments to graupel mass via observation operator as well as adjustments to other model state variables through flow-dependent ensemble cross covariance within EnKF are shown to work together to generate model-consistent analyses and overall improved forecasts.

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Burkely T. Gallo, Adam J. Clark, Israel Jirak, John S. Kain, Steven J. Weiss, Michael Coniglio, Kent Knopfmeier, James Correia Jr., Christopher J. Melick, Christopher D. Karstens, Eswar Iyer, Andrew R. Dean, Ming Xue, Fanyou Kong, Youngsun Jung, Feifei Shen, Kevin W. Thomas, Keith Brewster, Derek Stratman, Gregory W. Carbin, William Line, Rebecca Adams-Selin, and Steve Willington

Abstract

Led by NOAA’s Storm Prediction Center and National Severe Storms Laboratory, annual spring forecasting experiments (SFEs) in the Hazardous Weather Testbed test and evaluate cutting-edge technologies and concepts for improving severe weather prediction through intensive real-time forecasting and evaluation activities. Experimental forecast guidance is provided through collaborations with several U.S. government and academic institutions, as well as the Met Office. The purpose of this article is to summarize activities, insights, and preliminary findings from recent SFEs, emphasizing SFE 2015. Several innovative aspects of recent experiments are discussed, including the 1) use of convection-allowing model (CAM) ensembles with advanced ensemble data assimilation, 2) generation of severe weather outlooks valid at time periods shorter than those issued operationally (e.g., 1–4 h), 3) use of CAMs to issue outlooks beyond the day 1 period, 4) increased interaction through software allowing participants to create individual severe weather outlooks, and 5) tests of newly developed storm-attribute-based diagnostics for predicting tornadoes and hail size. Additionally, plans for future experiments will be discussed, including the creation of a Community Leveraged Unified Ensemble (CLUE) system, which will test various strategies for CAM ensemble design using carefully designed sets of ensemble members contributed by different agencies to drive evidence-based decision-making for near-future operational systems.

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Mark Weber, Kurt Hondl, Nusrat Yussouf, Youngsun Jung, Derek Stratman, Bryan Putnam, Xuguang Wang, Terry Schuur, Charles Kuster, Yixin Wen, Juanzhen Sun, Jeff Keeler, Zhuming Ying, John Cho, James Kurdzo, Sebastian Torres, Chris Curtis, David Schvartzman, Jami Boettcher, Feng Nai, Henry Thomas, Dusan Zrnić, Igor Ivić, Djordje Mirković, Caleb Fulton, Jorge Salazar, Guifu Zhang, Robert Palmer, Mark Yeary, Kevin Cooley, Michael Istok, and Mark Vincent

Abstract

This article summarizes research and risk reduction that will inform acquisition decisions regarding NOAA’s future national operational weather radar network. A key alternative being evaluated is polarimetric phased-array radar (PAR). Research indicates PAR can plausibly achieve fast, adaptive volumetric scanning, with associated benefits for severe-weather warning performance. We assess these benefits using storm observations and analyses, observing system simulation experiments, and real radar-data assimilation studies. Changes in the number and/or locations of radars in the future network could improve coverage at low altitude. Analysis of benefits that might be so realized indicates the possibility for additional improvement in severe-weather and flash-flood warning performance, with associated reduction in casualties. Simulations are used to evaluate techniques for rapid volumetric scanning and assess data quality characteristics of PAR. Finally, we describe progress in developing methods to compensate for polarimetric variable estimate biases introduced by electronic beam-steering. A research-to-operations (R2O) strategy for the PAR alternative for the WSR-88D replacement network is presented.

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Adam J. Clark, Israel L. Jirak, Scott R. Dembek, Gerry J. Creager, Fanyou Kong, Kevin W. Thomas, Kent H. Knopfmeier, Burkely T. Gallo, Christopher J. Melick, Ming Xue, Keith A. Brewster, Youngsun Jung, Aaron Kennedy, Xiquan Dong, Joshua Markel, Matthew Gilmore, Glen S. Romine, Kathryn R. Fossell, Ryan A. Sobash, Jacob R. Carley, Brad S. Ferrier, Matthew Pyle, Curtis R. Alexander, Steven J. Weiss, John S. Kain, Louis J. Wicker, Gregory Thompson, Rebecca D. Adams-Selin, and David A. Imy

Abstract

One primary goal of annual Spring Forecasting Experiments (SFEs), which are coorganized by NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory and Storm Prediction Center and conducted in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Hazardous Weather Testbed, is documenting performance characteristics of experimental, convection-allowing modeling systems (CAMs). Since 2007, the number of CAMs (including CAM ensembles) examined in the SFEs has increased dramatically, peaking at six different CAM ensembles in 2015. Meanwhile, major advances have been made in creating, importing, processing, verifying, and developing tools for analyzing and visualizing these large and complex datasets. However, progress toward identifying optimal CAM ensemble configurations has been inhibited because the different CAM systems have been independently designed, making it difficult to attribute differences in performance characteristics. Thus, for the 2016 SFE, a much more coordinated effort among many collaborators was made by agreeing on a set of model specifications (e.g., model version, grid spacing, domain size, and physics) so that the simulations contributed by each collaborator could be combined to form one large, carefully designed ensemble known as the Community Leveraged Unified Ensemble (CLUE). The 2016 CLUE was composed of 65 members contributed by five research institutions and represents an unprecedented effort to enable an evidence-driven decision process to help guide NOAA’s operational modeling efforts. Eight unique experiments were designed within the CLUE framework to examine issues directly relevant to the design of NOAA’s future operational CAM-based ensembles. This article will highlight the CLUE design and present results from one of the experiments examining the impact of single versus multicore CAM ensemble configurations.

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