Asimple method was developed to forecast 3- and 6-month standardized precipitation indices (SPIs) for the prediction of meteorological drought over the contiguous United States based on precipitation seasonal forecasts from the NCEP Climate Forecast System (CFS). Before predicting SPI, the precipitation (P) forecasts from the coarse-resolution CFS global model were bias corrected and downscaled to a regional grid of 50 km. The downscaled CFS P forecasts, out to 9 months, were appended to the P analyses to form an extended P dataset. The SPIs were calculated from this new time series. Five downscaling methods were tested: 1) bilinear interpolation; 2) a bias correction and spatial downscaling (BCSD) method based on the probability distribution functions; 3) a conditional probability estimation approach using the mean P ensemble forecasts developed by J. Schaake, 4) a Bayesian approach that bias corrects and downscales P using all ensemble forecast members, as developed by the Princeton University group; and 5) multimethod ensemble as the equally weighted mean of the BCSD, Schaake, and Bayesian forecasts. For initial conditions from April to May, statistical downscaling methods were compared with dynamic downscaling based on the NCEP regional spectral model and forecasts from a high-resolution CFS T382 model. The skill is regionally and seasonally dependent. Overall, the 6-month SPI is skillful out to 3-4 months. For the first 3-month lead times, forecast skill comes from the P analyses prior to the forecast time. After 3 months, the multimethod ensemble has small advantages, but forecast skill may be too low to be useful in practice.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science
- Bayesian methods
- Forecast verification
- Forecasting techniques
- Numerical weather prediction/forecasting
- Seasonal forecasting