Abstract

The High Resolution Ensemble Forecast v2.1 (HREFv2.1), an operational convection-allowing model (CAM) ensemble, is an “ensemble of opportunity” wherein forecasts from several independently-designed deterministic CAMs are aggregated and post-processed together. Multiple dimensions of diversity in the HREFv2.1 ensemble membership contribute to ensemble spread, including model core, physics parameterization schemes, initial conditions (ICs), and time-lagging. In this study, HREFv2.1 forecasts are compared against the High Resolution Rapid Refresh Ensemble (HRRRE) and the Multi-scale data Assimilation and Predictability (MAP) ensemble, two experimental CAM ensembles which ran during the five-week Spring Forecasting Experiment (SFE) in Spring 2018. The HRRRE and MAP are formally-designed ensembles with spread achieved primarily through perturbed ICs. Verification in this study focuses on composite radar reflectivity and updraft helicity to assess ensemble performance in forecasting convective storms. The HREFv2.1 shows the highest overall skill for these forecasts, matching subjective real-time impressions from SFE participants. Analysis of the skill and variance of ensemble member forecasts suggests that the HREFv2.1 exhibits greater spread and more effectively samples model uncertainty than the HRRRE or MAP. These results imply that to optimize skill in forecasting convective storms at 1-2 day lead times, future CAM ensembles should employ either diverse membership designs or sophisticated perturbation schemes capable of representing model uncertainty with comparable efficacy.

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