AbstractAccurate prediction of mixed-phase precipitation remains challenging for numerical weather prediction models even with high-resolution and a sophisticated explicit microphysics scheme and diagnostic algorithm to designate surface precipitation type. Since mixed-phase winter weather precipitation can damage infrastructure and produce significant disruptions to air and road travel, incorrect surface precipitation phase forecasts can have major consequences for local and statewide decision-makers as well as the general public. Building upon earlier work, this study examines the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model’s ability to forecast surface precipitation phase with a particular focus on model-predicted vertical temperature profiles associated with mixed-phase precipitation using upper-air sounding observations as well as the Automated Surface Observing Systems (ASOS) and Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground (mPING) observations.The analyses concentrate on regions of mixed-phase precipitation from two winter season events. The results show that when both the observational and model data indicated mixed-phase precipitation at the surface, the model represents the observed temperature profile well. Overall, cases when the model predicted rain but the observations indicated mixed-phase precipitation generally show a model surface temperature bias of <2°C and a vertical temperature profile similar to the sounding observations. However, the surface temperature bias was ~4°C in weather systems involving cold-air damming in the Eastern United States, resulting in an incorrect surface precipitation phase or the duration (areal coverage) of freezing rain much shorter (smaller) than the observation. Cases with predicted snow in regions of observed mixed-phase precipitation present subtle difference in the elevated layer with temperatures near 0°C and the near-surface layer.
Weather and Forecasting – American Meteorological Society
Published: Feb 28, 2017
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