Impact of Configurations of Rapid Intermittent Assimilation of WSR-88D Radar Data for the 8 May 2003 Oklahoma City Tornadic Thunderstorm Case

Hu, Ming; Xue, Ming
February 2007
Monthly Weather Review;Feb2007, Vol. 135 Issue 2, p507
Academic Journal
Various configurations of the intermittent data assimilation procedure for Level-II Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler radar data are examined for the analysis and prediction of a tornadic thunderstorm that occurred on 8 May 2003 near Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Several tornadoes were produced by this thunderstorm, causing extensive damages in the south Oklahoma City area. Within the rapidly cycled assimilation system, the Advanced Regional Prediction System three-dimensional variational data assimilation (ARPS 3DVAR) is employed to analyze conventional and radar radial velocity data, while the ARPS complex cloud analysis procedure is used to analyze cloud and hydrometeor fields and adjust in-cloud temperature and moisture fields based on reflectivity observations and the preliminary analysis of the atmosphere. Forecasts for up to 2.5 h are made from the assimilated initial conditions. Two one-way nested grids at 9- and 3-km grid spacings are employed although the assimilation configuration experiments are conducted for the 3-km grid only while keeping the 9-km grid configuration the same. Data from the Oklahoma City radar are used. Different combinations of the assimilation frequency, in-cloud temperature adjustment schemes, and the length and coverage of the assimilation window are tested, and the results are discussed with respect to the length and evolution stage of the thunderstorm life cycle. It is found that even though the general assimilation method remains the same, the assimilation settings can significantly impact the results of assimilation and the subsequent forecast. For this case, a 1-h-long assimilation window covering the entire initial stage of the storm together with a 10-min spinup period before storm initiation works best. Assimilation frequency and in-cloud temperature adjustment scheme should be set carefully to add suitable amounts of potential energy during assimilation. High assimilation frequency does not necessarily lead to a better result because of the significant adjustment during the initial forecast period. When a short assimilation window is used, covering the later part of the initial stage of storm and using a high assimilation frequency and a temperature adjustment scheme based on latent heat release can quickly build up the storm and produce a reasonable analysis and forecast. The results also show that when the data from a single Doppler radar are assimilated with properly chosen assimilation configurations, the model is able to predict the evolution of the 8 May 2003 Oklahoma City tornadic thunderstorm well for up to 2.5 h. The implications of the choices of assimilation settings for real-time applications are discussed.


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