Verification of precipitation forecasts from two numerical weather prediction models in the Middle Atlantic Region of the USA: A precursory analysis to hydrologic forecasting

Ridwan Siddique, Alfonso Ignacio Mejia, James Brown, Seann Reed, Peter Ahnert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Scopus citations

Abstract

Accurate precipitation forecasts are required for accurate flood forecasting. The structures of different precipitation forecasting systems are constantly evolving, with improvements in forecasting techniques, increases in spatial and temporal resolution, improvements in model physics and numerical techniques, and better understanding of, and accounting for, predictive uncertainty. Hence, routine verification is necessary to understand the quality of forecasts as inputs to hydrologic modeling. In this study, we verify precipitation forecasts from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) 11-member Global Ensemble Forecast System Reforecast version 2 (GEFSRv2), as well as the 21-member Short Range Ensemble Forecast (SREF) system. Specifically, basin averaged precipitation forecasts are verified for different basin sizes (spatial scales) in the operating domain of the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center (MARFC), using multi-sensor precipitation estimates (MPEs) as the observed data. The quality of the ensemble forecasts is evaluated conditionally upon precipitation amounts, forecast lead times, accumulation periods, and seasonality using different verification metrics. Overall, both GEFSRv2 and SREF tend to overforecast light to moderate precipitation and underforecast heavy precipitation. In addition, precipitation forecasts from both systems become increasingly reliable with increasing basin size and decreasing precipitation threshold, and the 24-hourly forecasts show slightly better skill than the 6-hourly forecasts. Both systems show a strong seasonal trend, characterized by better skill during the cool season than the warm season. Ultimately, the verification results lead to guidance on the expected quality of the precipitation forecasts, together with an assessment of their relative quality and unique information content, which is useful and necessary for their application in hydrologic forecasting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1390-1406
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Hydrology
Volume529
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Water Science and Technology

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