03 Jun 2024
 | 03 Jun 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion and under review for Weather and Climate Dynamics (WCD).

Assessing the skill of high-impact weather forecasts in southern South America: a study on Cut-off Lows

Belén Choquehuanca, Alejandro Anibal Godoy, and Ramiro Ignacio Saurral

Abstract. Cut-off Lows (COL) are mid-tropospheric cyclonic systems that frequently form over southern South America, where they can cause high-impact precipitation events. However, their prediction remains a challenging task, even in state-of-the-art numerical weather prediction systems. In this study, we assess the skill of the Global Ensemble Forecasting System (GEFS) in predicting COL formation and evolution over the South American region where the highest frequency and intensity of such events is observed. The target season is austral autumn (March to May), in which the frequency of these events maximizes. Results show that GEFS is skillful in predicting the onset of COLs up to 3 days ahead, even though forecasts initialized up to 7 days ahead may provide hints of COL formation. We also find that as the lead time increases, GEFS is affected by a systematic bias in which the forecast tracks lay to the west of their observed positions. Analysis of two case studies provide useful information on the mechanisms explaining the documented errors. These are mainly related to the depth and the intensity of the cold core, which affect the thermodynamic instability patterns (thus shaping precipitation downstream) as well as the horizontal thermal advection which can act to reinforce or weaken the COLs. These results are expected to provide not only further insight into the physical processes at play in these forecasts, but also useful tools to be used in operational forecasting of these high-impact weather events over southern South America.

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Belén Choquehuanca, Alejandro Anibal Godoy, and Ramiro Ignacio Saurral

Status: open (until 15 Jul 2024)

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Belén Choquehuanca, Alejandro Anibal Godoy, and Ramiro Ignacio Saurral
Belén Choquehuanca, Alejandro Anibal Godoy, and Ramiro Ignacio Saurral


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Short summary
High-impact surface weather over southern South America is often caused by synoptic-scale weather systems known as Cutoff Lows (COL). To better understand the forecast uncertainties associated with COL in that region, we evaluated the Global Ensemble Forecasting System (GEFS) performance in a hotspot area of COL over southern South America. COLs tend to be weak and slow in the GEFS, potentially affecting the environmental conditions that trigger heavy rainfall over the study region.