The most widely used technique for nowcasting of quantitative precipitation in operational and research centers is the Lagrangian extrapolation of the latest radar observations. However, this technique has a limited forecast skill because of the assumptionmade on its formulation, such as the fact that the motion vectors do not change and, evenmore important for convective events, neglect any growth or decay in the precipitation field. In this work, the McGill Algorithm for Precipitation Nowcasting by Lagrangian Extrapolation (MAPLE) errors have been computed for 10 yr of radar composite data over the continental United States. The study of these errors shows systematic bias depending on the time of day. This effect is related to the solar cycle, whose heating energy results in an increase in the average rainfall in the afternoon. This external forcing interacts with the atmospheric system, creating local initiation and dissipation of convection depending on orography, land use, cloud coverage, etc. The signal of the diurnal cycle inMAPLEprecipitation forecast has been studied in different locations and spatial scales as a function of lead time in order to recognize where, when, and for which spatial scales the signal is significant. This information has been used in the development of a scaling correction scheme where the mean errors due to the diurnal cycle are adjusted. The results show that the developed methodology improves the forecast for the spatial scales and locations where the diurnal cycle signal is significant.
This study will validate the S-band dual-polarization Doppler radar (S-Pol) radar refractivity retrieval using measurements from the International H2O Project conducted in the southern Great Plains in May–June 2002. The range of refractivity measurements during this project extended out to 40–60 km from the radar. Comparisons between the radar refractivity field and fixed and mobile mesonet refractivity values within the S-Pol refractivity domain show a strong correlation. Comparisons between the radar refractivity field and low-flying aircraft also show high correlations. Thus, the radar refractivity retrieval provides a good representation of low-level atmospheric refractivity. Numerous instruments that profile the temperature and moisture are also compared with the refractivity field. Radiosonde measurements, Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometers, and a vertical-pointing Raman lidar show good agreement, especially at low levels. Under most daytime summertime conditions, radar refractivity measurements are representative of an ~250-m-deep layer. Analyses are also performed on the utility of refractivity for short-term forecasting applications. It is found that the refractivity field may detect low-level boundaries prior to the more traditional radar reflectivity and Doppler velocity fields showing their existence. Data from two days on which convection initiated within S-Pol refractivity range suggest that the refractivity field may exhibit some potential utility in forecasting convection initiation. This study suggests that unprecedented advances in mapping near-surface water vapor and subsequent improvements in predicting convective storms could result from implementing the radar refractivity retrieval on the national network of operational radars.