Abstract

Although useful at short and medium ranges, current dynamical models provide little additional skill for precipitation forecasts beyond week 2 (14 days). However, recent studies have demonstrated that downstream forcing by the Madden–Julian oscillation (MJO) and quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) influences subseasonal variability, and predictability, of sensible weather across North America. Building on prior studies evaluating the influence of the MJO and QBO on the subseasonal prediction of North American weather, we apply an empirical model that uses the MJO and QBO as predictors to forecast anomalous (i.e., categorical above- or below-normal) pentadal precipitation at weeks 3–6 (15–42 days). A novel aspect of our study is the application and evaluation of the model for subseasonal prediction of precipitation across the entire contiguous United States and Alaska during all seasons. In almost all regions and seasons, the model provides “skillful forecasts of opportunity” for 20%–50% of all forecasts valid weeks 3–6. We also find that this model skill is correlated with historical responses of precipitation, and related synoptic quantities, to the MJO and QBO. Finally, we show that the inclusion of the QBO as a predictor increases the frequency of skillful forecasts of opportunity over most of the contiguous United States and Alaska during all seasons. These findings will provide guidance to forecasters regarding the utility of the MJO and QBO for subseasonal precipitation outlooks.

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