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Talmor Meir, Philip M. Orton, Julie Pullen, Teddy Holt, William T. Thompson, and Mark F. Arend

Abstract

Two extreme heat events impacting the New York City (NYC), New York, metropolitan region during 7–10 June and 21–24 July 2011 are examined in detail using a combination of models and observations. The U.S. Navy's Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System (COAMPS) produces real-time forecasts across the region on a 1-km resolution grid and employs an urban canopy parameterization to account for the influence of the city on the atmosphere. Forecasts from the National Weather Service's 12-km resolution North American Mesoscale (NAM) implementation of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model are also examined. The accuracy of the forecasts is evaluated using a land- and coastline-based observation network. Observed temperatures reached 39°C or more at central urban sites over several days and remained high overnight due to urban heat island (UHI) effects, with a typical nighttime urban–rural temperature difference of 4°–5°C. Examining model performance broadly over both heat events and 27 sites, COAMPS has temperature RMS errors averaging 1.9°C, while NAM has RMSEs of 2.5°C. COAMPS high-resolution wind and temperature predictions captured key features of the observations. For example, during the early summer June heat event, the Long Island south shore coastline experienced a more pronounced sea breeze than was observed for the July heat wave.

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