A procedure for operationally predicting the movement of the mesobeta-scale convective elements responsible for the heavy rain in mesocale convective complexes is presented. The procedure is based on the well-known concepts that the motion of convective systems can be considered the sum of an advective component, given by the mean motion of the cells composing the system, and a propagation component, defined by the rate and location of new cell formation relative to existing cells. These concepts and the forecast procedure are examined using 103 mesoscale convective systems, 99 of which are mesoscale convective complexes.
It is found that the advective component of the convective systems is well correlated to the mean flow in the cloud layer. Similarly, the propagation component is shown to be directly proportional (but opposite in sign) and well correlated to the speed and direction of the low-level jet. Correlation coefficients between forecast and observed values for the speed and direction of the mesobeta-scale convective elements are 0.80 and 0.78, respectively. Mean absolute errors of the speed and direction are 2.0 m s−1 and 17°. These errors are sufficiently small so that the forecast path of the centroid of the mesobeta-scale elements would be well within the heavy rain swath of the typical mesoscale convective complex.