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Open AccessArticle

Evaluating the Forecast Performance of the Meiyu Front Rainbelt Position: A Case Study of the 30 June to 4 July 2016 Extreme Rainfall Event

by Jie Ma 1,2, Kevin A. Bowley 2,* and Fuqing Zhang 2,*,†
1
National Meteorological Center, China Meteorological Administration, 100081 Beijing, China
2
Department of Meteorology and Atmospheric Science, and Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA 16802, USA
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Author is deceased.
Atmosphere 2019, 10(11), 648; https://doi.org/10.3390/atmos10110648
Received: 24 July 2019 / Revised: 21 October 2019 / Accepted: 24 October 2019 / Published: 26 October 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Climatology and Meteorology)
An impactful and poorly forecasted heavy rainfall event was observed in association with the Meiyu front over the Yangtze River valley of China from 30 June–4 July 2016. Operational global numerical weather prediction models for almost all forecast lead times beyond 24 h incorrectly forecasted the location and intensity of the precipitation associated with this event. This study presents the first examination of this poleward bias in the operational models for the Meiyu front, which has been frequently noted by meteorologists at the Chinese Meteorological Administration, and explores areas of forecast error and uncertainty in the prediction of the position of the primary frontal rainbelt that is crucial to the placement and intensity of the heavy rainfall. A new zonal mean maximum accumulated precipitation index is introduced and utilized to identify members in the European Centre for Medium-Range Forecasts (ECMWF) Ensemble Prediction System (EPS) that either perform well or perform poorly in forecasting the location of the Meiyu front. Using this new precipitation metric, five-member subgroups representing the EPS members that were most accurate and those that incorrectly displace the Meiyu front the furthest north were identified. An analysis of composite mean fields for the EPS subgroups and the correlation between the rain band placement and the 500 hPa heights was performed for several EPS model runs. We showed that a successful prediction of the location of the Meiyu front rainbelt position by the EPS is most sensitive to the intensity of the 500 hPa trough located over eastern China for the event. The ensemble members that had the largest northward error in the location of the rain band were found to have a more intense 500 hPa trough than the members that more accurately predicted the rainbelt. The more intense upper level trough was found to have enhanced the lower tropospheric southerly flow equatorward of the front and led to a less zonal-oriented Meiyu front, resulting in a northward displacement of both the rainbelt and the regions of more intense precipitation rates. Finally, an examination of the evolution of the differences between the subgroups shows that the primary differences in 500 hPa intensity propagate in-phase with the 500 hPa trough. We show that it is the intensity of the trough, rather than the rate of propagation, that is the most important source of forecast dissimilarities between the successful and failed forecasts. View Full-Text
Keywords: Meiyu rainy season; predictability; Forecast error; extreme rainfall Meiyu rainy season; predictability; Forecast error; extreme rainfall
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Ma, J.; Bowley, K.A.; Zhang, F. Evaluating the Forecast Performance of the Meiyu Front Rainbelt Position: A Case Study of the 30 June to 4 July 2016 Extreme Rainfall Event. Atmosphere 2019, 10, 648.

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