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Kermit K. Keeter and Joel W. Cline

Abstract

The Local Objective Guidance for Predicting Precipitation Type (LOG/PT) consists of regression equations and nomograms. LOG/PT was designed to address problems inherent in forecasting wintry precipitation across North Carolina, where frozen and freezing precipitation are relatively infrequent, often occurring from mixed precipitation events, and where even small amounts can disrupt communities. Moreover, LOG/PT is an example of employing developmental strategies to maximize the yield from limited resources to produce an objective forecast tool for a critical local-forecast problem.

Stepwise linear regression, with modifications to approximate the sigmoid curve associated with logit regression, was used to derive relationships between precipitation type and 1000–700-, 850–700-, and 1000–850-mb thickness values from radiosonde observations (raobs). The soundings were concurrent with, or within 12 h prior to, the onset of the precipitation at the prediction sites.

The regression portion of LOG/PT discriminates frozen from liquid precipitation. LOG/PT demonstrated skill in detecting frozen events and in correctly specifying frozen-precipitation forecasts. When used in a perfect prog sense with the nested grid model (NGM) thickness forecasts, LOG/PT showed a tendency to overforecast the frequency of snow. LOG/PT's forecast success was limited by its dependence upon a one-raob prediction site with raobs taken 12 h part, and the characteristics of the NGM 1000–850-mb thickness forecasts. Operationally, the regression portion has been useful in predicting the location of the snow/rain boundary in storms with relatively narrow precipitation-type transition zones. In addition, nomograms were prepared to differentiate mixed-precipitation events that resulted in measurable amounts of frozen precipitation from those producing only a trace of frozen precipitation, and to identify icing events. Operationally, the nomograms are used to specify precipitation type in storms with broad bands of mixed precipitation.

In addition to statistical samples, the operational experience of local forecasters was used to gain insight concerning the forecast performance of LOG/PT and the Model Output Statistics (MOS) Probability of Precipitation Type (PoPT) guidance from the Limited-Area Fine Mesh (LFM) model. LOG/PT provides the forecaster with an additional source of objective precipitation-type guidance that can be helpful, especially when forecast errors in the LFM limit the accuracy of the resulting MOS guidance.

Future research efforts directed toward improving the LOG/PT guidance, and increasing the forecaster's knowledge of synoptic features and physical processes that determine precipitation type are also discussed.

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Debra K. Hoium, Allen J. Riordan, John Monahan, and Kermit K. Keeter

The National Weather Service issues public warnings for severe thunderstorms and tornadoes when these storms appear imminent. A study of the warning process was conducted at the National Weather Service Forecast Office at Raleigh, North Carolina, from 1994 through 1996. The purpose of the study was to examine the decision process by documenting the types of information leading to decisions to warn or not to warn and by describing the sequence and timing of events in the development of warnings. It was found that the evolution of warnings followed a logical sequence beginning with storm monitoring and proceeding with increasingly focused activity. For simplicity, information input to the process was categorized as one of three types: ground truth, radar reflectivity, or radar velocity.

Reflectivity, velocity, and ground truth were all equally likely to initiate the investigation process. This investigation took an average of 7 min, after which either a decision was made not to warn or new information triggered the warning. Decisions not to issue warnings were based more on ground truth and reflectivity than radar velocity products. Warnings with investigations of more than 2 min were more likely to be triggered by radar reflectivity, than by velocity or ground truth. Warnings with a shorter investigation time, defined here as “immediate trigger warnings,” were less frequently based on velocity products and more on ground truth information. Once the decision was made to warn, it took an average of 2.1 min to prepare the warning text. In 85% of cases when warnings were issued, at least one contact was made to emergency management officials or storm spotters in the warned county. Reports of severe weather were usually received soon after the warning was transmitted—almost half of these within 30 min after issue. A total of 68% were received during the severe weather episode, but some of these storm reports later proved false according to Storm Data.

Even though the WSR-88D is a sophisticated tool, ground truth information was found to be a vital part of the warning process. However, the data did not indicate that population density was statistically correlated either with the number of warnings issued or the verification rate.

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Kermit K. Keeter, Steven Businger, Laurence G. Lee, and Jeff S. Waldstreicher

Abstract

Winter weather in the Carolinas and Virginia is highly variable and influenced by the area's diverse topography and geography. The Gulf Stream, the highest mountains in the Appalachians, the largest coastal lagoonal system in the United States, and the region's southern latitude combine to produce an array of weather events, particularly during the winter season, that pose substantial challenges to forecasters. The influence of the region's topography upon the evolution of winter weather systems, such as cold-air damming and frontogenesis, is discussed. Conceptual models and specific case studies are examined to illustrate the region's vast assortment of winter weather hazards including prolonged heavy sleet, heavy snow, strong convection, and coastal flooding.

The weather associated with these topographic and meteorological features is often difficult for operational dynamical models to resolve. Forecasting precipitation type within the region can be especially difficult. An objective technique to forecast wintry precipitation across North Carolina is presented to illustrate a 1ocally developed forecast tool used operationally to supplement the centrally produced numerical guidance. The development of other forecast tools is being pursued through collaborative studies between the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Raleigh–Durham, North Carolina, and the Department of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University.

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James J. Gurka, Eugene P. Auciello, Anthony F. Gigi, Jeff S. Waldstreicher, Kermit K. Keeter, Steven Businger, and Laurence G. Lee

Abstract

The complex combination of synoptic and mesoscale interactions, topographic influences, and large population densities poses a multitude of challenging problems to winter weather forecasters throughout the eastern United States. Over the years, much has been learned about the structure, evolution, and attendant precipitation within winter storms. As a result, numerous operational procedures, forecast applications, and objective techniques have been developed at National Weather Service offices to assess the potential for, and forecast, hazardous winter weather. A companion paper by Maglaras et al. provided an overview of the challenge of forecasting winter weather in the eastern United States.

This paper focuses on the problem of cyclogenesis from an operational perspective. Since pattern recognition is an important tool employed by field forecasters, a review of several conceptual models of cyclogenesis often observed in the east is presented. These include classical Miller type A and B cyclogenesis, zipper lows, 500-mb cutoff lows, and cold-air cyclogenesis. The ability of operational dynamical models to predict East Coast cyclones and, in particular, explosive cyclogenesis is explored. An operational checklist that utilizes information from the Nested Grid Model to forecast the potential for rapid cyclogenesis is also described. A review of signatures related to cyclogenesis in visible, infrared, and water vapor satellite imagery is presented. Finally, a study of water vapor imagery for 16 cases of explosive cyclogenesis between 1988 and 1990 indicates that an acceleration of a dry (dark) surge with speeds exceeding 25 m s−1, toward a baroclinic zone, is an excellent indicator of the imminent onset of rapid deepening.

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