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Jonathan E. Thielen and William A. Gallus Jr.

1. Introduction Mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) play a crucial role climatologically in precipitation across the central United States. These systems account for roughly 30%–70% of the precipitation that occurs during the April–September period (warm season) in this region ( Ashley et al. 2003 ) and are therefore key phenomena of interest when seeking to improve the quantitative precipitation forecast (QPF) skill of models ( Fritsch et al. 1986 ). While this rainfall is essential to

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Aaron Johnson, Xuguang Wang, and Samuel Degelia

designed to better understand optimal convection-permitting ensemble forecasts and storm-scale DA configurations for the prediction of nocturnal convection and related features using retrospective forecasts from 2014. The GSI-based multiscale ensemble DA and forecast system described in Part I and Johnson et al. (2015) was also implemented as an operational real-time nocturnal-convection prediction system during the PECAN field experiment. This system is described and evaluated in the present paper

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Aaron Johnson and Xuguang Wang

layer ( Parker 2008 ; Trier et al.2011 ; Marsham et al. 2011 ; Coleman and Knupp 2011 ; Erlingis and Barros 2014 ) and low-level jets (LLJs; Carbone et al. 1990 ; Trier and Parsons 1993 ; Trier et al. 2006 ; Tuttle and Davis 2006 ; Coniglio et al. 2010 ; Trier et al. 2010 ; French and Parker 2010 ). The notoriously low skill of warm-season quantitative precipitation forecasting is due in large part to the low predictability of nocturnal convective initiation (CI) and subsequent evolution

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Sean Stelten and William A. Gallus Jr.

can threaten public safety and property with high winds, hail, flooding, and occasionally tornadoes, despite their helpful role as the primary producer of warm season precipitation in the central United States ( Maddox et al. 1979 ; Maddox 1980 ; Fritsch et al. 1986 ; Rochette and Moore 1996 ). Thus, correctly predicting the initiation of MCSs and other less organized convection is an integral part of forecasting for the Great Plains. Prediction of the CI that leads to nighttime convection is

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