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William A. Komaromi, Patrick A. Reinecke, James D. Doyle, and Jonathan R. Moskaitis


The 11-member Coupled Ocean–Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System-Tropical Cyclones (COAMPS-TC) ensemble has been developed by the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) to produce probabilistic forecasts of tropical cyclone (TC) track, intensity and structure. All members run with a storm-following inner grid at convection-permitting 4-km horizontal resolution. The COAMPS-TC ensemble is constructed via a combination of perturbations to initial and boundary conditions, the initial vortex, and model physics to account for a variety of different sources of uncertainty that affect track and intensity forecasts. Unlike global model ensembles, which do a reasonable job capturing track uncertainty but not intensity, mesoscale ensembles such as the COAMPS-TC ensemble are necessary to provide a realistic intensity forecast spectrum. The initial and boundary condition perturbations are responsible for generating the majority of track spread at all lead times, as well as the intensity spread from 36 to 120 h. The vortex and physics perturbations are necessary to produce meaningful spread in the intensity prediction from 0 to 36 h. In a large sample of forecasts from 2014 to 2017, the ensemble-mean track and intensity forecast is superior to the unperturbed control forecast at all lead times, demonstrating a clear advantage to running an ensemble versus a deterministic forecast. The spread–skill relationship of the ensemble is also examined, and is found to be very well calibrated for track, but is underdispersive for intensity. Using a mixture of lateral boundary conditions derived from different global models is found to improve upon the spread–skill score for intensity, but it is hypothesized that additional physics perturbations will be necessary to achieve realistic ensemble spread.

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