Convective-permitting hindcast simulations during the North American Monsoon GPS Transect Experiment 2013: Establishing baseline model performance without data assimilation

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During the North American monsoon global positioning system (GPS) Transect Experiment 2013, daily convective-permitting WRF simulations are performed in northwestern Mexico and the southern Arizona border region using the operational Global Forecast System (GFS) and North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM) models as lateral boundary forcing and initial conditions. Compared to GPS precipitable water vapor (PWV), the WRF simulations display a consistent moist bias in the initial specification of PWV leading to convection beginning 3-6 h early. Given appreciable observed rainfall, days are classified as strongly and weakly forced based only on the presence of an inverted trough (IV); gulf surges did not noticeably impact the development of mesoscale convective systems (MCSs) and related convection in northwestern Mexico. Strongly forced days display higher modeled precipitation forecast skill than weakly forced days in the slopes of the northern Sierra Madre Occidental (SMO) away from the crest, especially toward the west where MCSs account for the greatest proportion of all monsoon-related precipitation. A case study spanning 8-10 July 2013 illustrates two consecutive days when nearly identical MCSs evolved over northern Sonora. Although a salient MCS is simulated on the strongly forced day (9-10 July 2013) when an IV is approaching the core monsoon region, a simulated MCS is basically nonexistent on the weakly forced day (8-9 July 2013) when the IV is farther away. The greater sensitivity to the initial specification of PWV in the weakly forced day suggests that assimilation of GPS-derived PWV for these types of days may be of greatest value in improving model precipitation forecasts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1683-1710
Number of pages28
JournalJournal of Applied Meteorology and Climatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018



  • Forecast verification/skill
  • Global positioning systems (GPS)
  • Mesoscale forecasting
  • Mesoscale systems
  • Model evaluation/performance
  • Monsoons

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Atmospheric Science

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