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Dustan M. Wheatley, Kent H. Knopfmeier, Thomas A. Jones, and Gerald J. Creager

Abstract

This first part of a two-part study on storm-scale radar and satellite data assimilation provides an overview of a multicase study conducted as part of the NOAA Warn-on-Forecast (WoF) project. The NSSL Experimental WoF System for ensembles (NEWS-e) is used to produce storm-scale analyses and forecasts of six diverse severe weather events from spring 2013 and 2014. In this study, only Doppler reflectivity and radial velocity observations (and, when available, surface mesonet data) are assimilated into a 36-member, storm-scale ensemble using an ensemble Kalman filter (EnKF) approach. A series of 1-h ensemble forecasts are then initialized from storm-scale analyses during the 1-h period preceding the onset of storm reports. Of particular interest is the ability of these 0–1-h ensemble forecasts to reproduce the low-level rotational characteristics of supercell thunderstorms, as well as other convective hazards. For the tornado-producing thunderstorms considered in this study, ensemble probabilistic forecasts of low-level rotation generally indicated a rotating thunderstorm approximately 30 min before the time of first observed tornado. Displacement errors (often to the north of tornado-affected areas) associated with vorticity swaths were greatest in those forecasts launched 30–60 min before the time of first tornado. Similar forecasts were produced for a tornadic mesovortex along the leading edge of a bow echo and, again, highlighted a well-defined vorticity swath as much as 30 min prior to the first tornado.

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Patrick S. Skinner, Dustan M. Wheatley, Kent H. Knopfmeier, Anthony E. Reinhart, Jessica J. Choate, Thomas A. Jones, Gerald J. Creager, David C. Dowell, Curtis R. Alexander, Therese T. Ladwig, Louis J. Wicker, Pamela L. Heinselman, Patrick Minnis, and Rabindra Palikonda

Abstract

An object-based verification methodology for the NSSL Experimental Warn-on-Forecast System for ensembles (NEWS-e) has been developed and applied to 32 cases between December 2015 and June 2017. NEWS-e forecast objects of composite reflectivity and 30-min updraft helicity swaths are matched to corresponding reflectivity and rotation track objects in Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor system data on space and time scales typical of a National Weather Service warning. Object matching allows contingency-table-based verification statistics to be used to establish baseline performance metrics for NEWS-e thunderstorm and mesocyclone forecasts. NEWS-e critical success index (CSI) scores of reflectivity (updraft helicity) forecasts decrease from approximately 0.7 (0.4) to 0.4 (0.2) over 3 h of forecast time. CSI scores decrease through the forecast period, indicating that errors do not saturate during the 3-h forecast. Lower verification scores for rotation track forecasts are primarily a result of a high-frequency bias. Comparison of different system configurations used in 2016 and 2017 shows an increase in skill for 2017 reflectivity forecasts, attributable mainly to improvements in the forecast initial conditions. A small decrease in skill in 2017 rotation track forecasts is likely a result of sample differences between 2016 and 2017. Although large case-to-case variation is present, evidence is found that NEWS-e forecast skill improves with increasing object size and intensity.

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Adam J. Clark, Israel L. Jirak, Burkely T. Gallo, Brett Roberts, Kent. H. Knopfmeier, Robert A. Clark, Jake Vancil, Andrew R. Dean, Kimberly A. Hoogewind, Pamela L. Heinselman, Nathan A. Dahl, Makenzie J. Krocak, Jessica J. Choate, Katie A. Wilson, Patrick S. Skinner, Thomas A. Jones, Yunheng Wang, Gerald J. Creager, Larissa J. Reames, Louis J. Wicker, Scott R. Dembek, and Steven J. Weiss
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Adam J. Clark, Israel L. Jirak, Burkely T. Gallo, Brett Roberts, Andrew R. Dean, Kent H. Knopfmeier, Louis J. Wicker, Makenzie Krocak, Patrick S. Skinner, Pamela L. Heinselman, Katie A. Wilson, Jake Vancil, Kimberly A. Hoogewind, Nathan A. Dahl, Gerald J. Creager, Thomas A. Jones, Jidong Gao, Yunheng Wang, Eric D. Loken, Montgomery Flora, Christopher A. Kerr, Nusrat Yussouf, Scott R. Dembek, William Miller, Joshua Martin, Jorge Guerra, Brian Matilla, David Jahn, David Harrison, David Imy, and Michael C. Coniglio
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