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Short-Range Probabilistic Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts over the Southwest United States by the RSM Ensemble System

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The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Regional Spectral Model (RSM) is used to produce twice-daily (0000 and 1200 UTC), high-resolution ensemble forecasts to 24 h. The forecasts are performed at an equivalent horizontal grid spacing of 12 km for the period 1 November 2002 to 31 March 2003 over the southwest United States. The performance of 6-h accumulated precipitation is assessed for 32 U.S. Geological Survey hydrologic catchments. Multiple accuracy and skill measures are used to evaluate probabilistic quantitative precipitation forecasts. NCEP stage-IV precipitation analyses are used as "truth," with verification performed on the stage-IV 4-km grid. The RSM ensemble exhibits a ubiquitous wet bias. The bias manifests itself in areal coverage, frequency of occurrence, and total accumulated precipitation over every region and during every 6-h period. The biases become particularly acute starting with the 1800-0000 UTC interval, which leads to a spurious diurnal cycle and the 1200 UTC cycle being more adversely affected than the 0000 UTC cycle. Forecast quality and value exhibit marked variability over different hydrologic regions. The forecasts are highly skillful along coastal California and the windward slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but they generally lack skill over the Great Basin and the Colorado basin except over mountain peaks. The RSM ensemble is able to discriminate precipitation events and provide useful guidance to a wide range of users over most regions of California, which suggests that mitigation of the conditional biases through statistical postprocessing would produce major improvements in skill. © 2007 American Meteorological Society.

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