Verification of the skill of numerical weather prediction models in forecasting rainfall from U.S. landfalling tropical cyclones

Beda Luitel, Gabriele Villarini, Gabriel A. Vecchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

The goal of this study is the evaluation of the skill of five state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction (NWP) systems [European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), UK Met Office (UKMO), National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), China Meteorological Administration (CMA), and Canadian Meteorological Center (CMC)] in forecasting rainfall from North Atlantic tropical cyclones (TCs). Analyses focus on 15 North Atlantic TCs that made landfall along the U.S. coast over the 2007–2012 period. As reference data we use gridded rainfall provided by the Climate Prediction Center (CPC). We consider forecast lead-times up to five days. To benchmark the skill of these models, we consider rainfall estimates from one radar-based (Stage IV) and four satellite-based [Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission - Multi-satellite Precipitation Analysis (TMPA, both real-time and research version); Precipitation Estimation from Remotely Sensed Information using Artificial Neural Networks (PERSIANN); the CPC MORPHing Technique (CMORPH)] rainfall products. Daily and storm total rainfall fields from each of these remote sensing products are compared to the reference data to obtain information about the range of errors we can expect from “observational data.” The skill of the NWP models is quantified: (1) by visual examination of the distribution of the errors in storm total rainfall for the different lead-times, and numerical examination of the first three moments of the error distribution; (2) relative to climatology at the daily scale. Considering these skill metrics, we conclude that the NWP models can provide skillful forecasts of TC rainfall with lead-times up to 48 h, without a consistently best or worst NWP model.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1026-1037
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume556
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology

Keywords

  • North Atlantic
  • Numerical weather predictions
  • Rainfall
  • Short-term forecasting
  • Tropical cyclones

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