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Christopher Davis, Wei Wang, Jimy Dudhia, and Ryan Torn


The representation of tropical cyclone track, intensity, and structure in a set of 69 parallel forecasts performed at each of two horizontal grid increments with the Advanced Research Hurricane (AHW) component of the Weather and Research and Forecasting Model (WRF) is evaluated. These forecasts covered 10 Atlantic tropical cyclones: 6 from the 2005 season and 4 from 2007. The forecasts were integrated from identical initial conditions produced by a cycling ensemble Kalman filter. The high-resolution forecasts used moving, storm-centered nests of 4- and 1.33-km grid spacing. The coarse-resolution forecasts consisted of a single 12-km domain (which was identical to the outer domain in the forecasts with nests). Forecasts were evaluated out to 120 h. Novel verification techniques were developed to evaluate forecasts of wind radii and the degree of storm asymmetry. Intensity (maximum wind) and rapid intensification, as well as wind radii, were all predicted more accurately with increased horizontal resolution. These results were deemed to be statistically significant based on the application of bootstrap confidence intervals. No statistically significant differences emerged regarding storm position errors between the two forecasts. Coarse-resolution forecasts tended to overpredict the extent of winds compared to high-resolution forecasts. The asymmetry of gale-force winds was better predicted in the coarser-resolution simulation, but asymmetry of hurricane-force winds was predicted better at high resolution. The skill of the wind radii forecasts decayed gradually over 120 h, suggesting a synoptic-scale control of the predictability of outer winds.

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Jeffrey Beck, John Brown, Jimy Dudhia, David Gill, Tracy Hertneky, Joseph Klemp, Wei Wang, Christopher Williams, Ming Hu, Eric James, Jaymes Kenyon, Tanya Smirnova, and Jung-Hoon Kim


A new hybrid, sigma-pressure vertical coordinate was recently added to the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) Model in an effort to reduce numerical noise in the model equations near complex terrain. Testing of this hybrid, terrain-following coordinate was undertaken in the WRF-based Rapid Refresh (RAP) and High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) models to assess impacts on retrospective and real-time simulations. Initial cold-start simulations indicated that the majority of differences between the hybrid and traditional sigma coordinate were confined to regions downstream of mountainous terrain and focused in the upper levels. Week-long retrospective simulations generally resulted in small improvements for the RAP, and a neutral impact in the HRRR when the hybrid coordinate was used. However, one possibility is that the inclusion of data assimilation in the experiments may have minimized differences between the vertical coordinates. Finally, analysis of turbulence forecasts with the new hybrid coordinate indicate a significant reduction in spurious vertical motion over the full length of the Rocky Mountains. Overall, the results indicate a potential to improve forecast metrics through implementation of the hybrid coordinate, particularly at upper levels, and downstream of complex terrain.

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