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Operational Implications of the “Probability of Precipitation”

Joseph T. SchaeferNational Weather Service Central Region, Scientific Services Division Kansas City, Missouri

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Richard L. LivingstonNational Weather Service Central Region, Scientific Services Division Kansas City, Missouri

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Abstract

Since the probability of precipitation (PoP) appears in the forecasts of the National Weather Service (NWS), it is important that both the forecaster and user fully grasp the subtleties of the meaning of PoP. A brief review of the theory of PoP is presented. It is shown that although the PoP is defined as the average point probability, the guidelines outlined in the National Weather Service Operations Manual (NWSOM) also make the PoP the expected areal coverage of precipitation across the forecast area.

Abstract

Since the probability of precipitation (PoP) appears in the forecasts of the National Weather Service (NWS), it is important that both the forecaster and user fully grasp the subtleties of the meaning of PoP. A brief review of the theory of PoP is presented. It is shown that although the PoP is defined as the average point probability, the guidelines outlined in the National Weather Service Operations Manual (NWSOM) also make the PoP the expected areal coverage of precipitation across the forecast area.

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