Next-Day Convection-Allowing WRF Model Guidance: A Second Look at 2-km versus 4-km Grid Spacing

Schwartz, Craig S.; Kain, John S.; Weiss, Steven J.; Ming Xue; Bright, David R.; Fanyou Kong; Thomas, Kevin W.; Levit, Jason J.; Coniglio, Michael C.
October 2009
Monthly Weather Review;Oct2009, Vol. 137 Issue 10, p3351
Academic Journal
During the 2007 NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) Spring Experiment, the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS) at the University of Oklahoma produced convection-allowing forecasts from a single deterministic 2-km model and a 10-member 4-km-resolution ensemble. In this study, the 2-km deterministic output was compared with forecasts from the 4-km ensemble control member. Other than the difference in horizontal resolution, the two sets of forecasts featured identical Advanced Research Weather Research and Forecasting model (ARW-WRF) configurations, including vertical resolution, forecast domain, initial and lateral boundary conditions, and physical parameterizations. Therefore, forecast disparities were attributed solely to differences in horizontal grid spacing. This study is a follow-up to similar work that was based on results from the 2005 Spring Experiment. Unlike the 2005 experiment, however, model configurations were more rigorously controlled in the present study, providing a more robust dataset and a cleaner isolation of the dependence on horizontal resolution. Additionally, in this study, the 2- and 4-km outputs were compared with 12-km forecasts from the North American Mesoscale (NAM) model. Model forecasts were analyzed using objective verification of mean hourly precipitation and visual comparison of individual events, primarily during the 21- to 33-h forecast period to examine the utility of the models as next-day guidance. On average, both the 2- and 4-km model forecasts showed substantial improvement over the 12-km NAM. However, although the 2-km forecasts produced more-detailed structures on the smallest resolvable scales, the patterns of convective initiation, evolution, and organization were remarkably similar to the 4-km output. Moreover, on average, metrics such as equitable threat score, frequency bias, and fractions skill score revealed no statistical improvement of the 2-km forecasts compared to the 4-km forecasts. These results, based on the 2007 dataset, corroborate previous findings, suggesting that decreasing horizontal grid spacing from 4 to 2 km provides little added value as next-day guidance for severe convective storm and heavy rain forecasters in the United States.


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