2A.4 The Uncertainty of Precipitation-type Observations and its Effect on the Validation of Forecast Precipitation Type

Monday, 23 January 2017: 2:15 PM
Conference Center: Tahoma 3 (Washington State Convention Center )
Heather D. Reeves, CIMMS/Univ. of Oklahoma and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK

Herein, an evaluation of the uncertainty of precipitation-type observations and its effect on the validation of forecast precipitation type is undertaken. The forms of uncertainty considered are instrument/observer bias and horizontal/temporal representivity of the observations. Instrument/observer biases are assessed by comparing observations from the Automated Surface Observing Station (ASOS) and meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground (mPING) networks. Relative to the augmented ASOS, mPING observations are biased toward ice pellets (PL) and away from rain (RA). Consequently, when mPING is used to validate precipitation-type forecasts, the Probabilities of Detection (PODs) for RA (PL) are decreased (increased) relative to those obtained when using augmented ASOS. Temporal and spatial variability effects are also assessed. The typical lifespan of transitional forms of precipitation is between 10 and 40 min, with many events having two or more forms of precipitation reported in a one-hour time frame. Depending on how one defines a hit for these rapidly-evolving events, inherent biases in the forecasts may be dampened or masked altogether. Spatial variability also exerts a strong control on the performance of post-processing algorithms as both FZRA and PL often have spatial scales that are too small to be resolved, even by convection-allowing forecast models. However, for the range of distances considered, the degree of variability is not strongly dependent on the distance and, consequently, validation statistics do not change significantly as a model's grid spacing is increased, all else being equal.
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