We will be forecasting for Springfield, Missouri (KSGF) for four weeks (7 Apr - 3 May). The tournament schedule is a little different-- forecasts are due by 00 UTC on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. Note that you do not forecast on Wednesday and you do forecast on Friday. Wednesdays are when they determine who moves onto the next round, bracket-style. The full rules are found here.
Why Springfield? It's severe weather season in the Plains so that should make for some interesting forecasting challenges. Springfield is located in southwestern Missouri close to the OK, KS and AK borders. Time to stalk the airport!
KSGF is Springfield-Branson National Airport and is located to the northwest of the city center. There's actually a little bit of topography in the state of Missouri known as the Ozarks. The highest peaks (< 3000 ft / 800 m) are located to the south of KSGF in Arkansas. The WMO ID is 72440. I would always check in with the expert forecasters for that location, those at the NWS Springfield WFO.
- Rapid Refresh (RAP)
- Short Range Ensemble Forecast System (SREF)
A trough currently over the Central U.S. should slide eastward and heights should build behind it bringing lower chances for precipitation during the first few forecasts for Springfield according to the 12Z GFS initialized 6 April.
Tips/Comments for Forecasting in General:
- Check out the current weather first via satellite, radar (pretty good radar coverage in ND!), surface observations, METAR, etc. You have to understand the present before you can look to the future.
- Get a feel for general pattern from NAM, GFS, etc. (available from here and here, for example). Identify the general pattern of low and high surface pressure systems and their progression, temperature advection at 850 mb, moisture at 700 mb, vorticity at 500 mb and the general jet structure at 300 mb. Make sure you are focusing your attention on Springfield.
- Look at forecast model soundings for the period for KSGF.
- How are the models evolving in time? Check out d(model)/dt plots like this one that focuses on the GFS.
- Ensembles are your friend. Here's a cool page for some spaghetti from the GEFS. Here's a winter-specific SREF page just for fun.
- Compare your idea for values with MOS (model output statistics). Keep in mind these are instantaneous output values and you can always have values above/below that between output times.
- Read the Springfield, MO WFO forecast discussion for info on KSGF. These are the experts for that location, after all!
- Other universities have great WxChallenge-specific pages:
- The SBU-WRF run by Professor Colle's research group has Springfield in their 36-km domain and can be found here:
Tips/Comments for Forecasting for High/Low temperature (Fahrenheit):
- Recall such basics as nighttime radiative cooling and daytime solar radiative heating, both of which are affected by cloud cover, snow cover, and fog. Is there snow cover? Gosh, I hope not but check out here!
- Frontal passages can affect your temperature forecast. Pay attention to the forecast timing of such frontal passages.
- Given quiet synoptic players, the evening dew point can act as a rough guess for the nighttime low (some forecasters use this as a first guess when they think the model output statistics (MOS) is bonkers). Therefore the wind direction may be a good indicator of humidity which may affect the nighttime temperatures.
Tips/Comments for Forecasting Wind Speed (knots):
- NWS outputs wind speed in mph so if you are comparing your forecast value to theirs keep that in mind. Otherwise the models output wind speed (WSP) in knots.
- Look through METAR or surface obs for wind direction and temperature changes.
Tips/Comments for Forecasting Precipitation (inches):
- Take a look at some higher-resolution models (e.g. WRF, hi-res NAM) or compare a whole bunch at once using a meteogram (ISU)
- What does the WPC show?
- Take a look at some GFS model-derived standardized anomalies of precipitable water (PWAT) to get a handle on any significant movement of the forecast of dry air or very moist air.
- Take a look at some ensemble data (e.g. SREF or for a zoomed-in national look try here. And for a winter-weather specific SREF page then check this out.)
- Most products you will be looking at will output the QPF in inches already so no conversion is necessary. Recall that we are forecasting for the liquid precipitation so if the forecast calls for snow, make sure you aren't forecasting 4 inches-- use the liquid equivalent.
Be sure to check out a previous post found here for a long list of great resources that you should check out! Most of them are also found on Dr. Colle's Coastal Meteorology and Atmospheric Prediction (COMAP) group's website. Please feel free to comment below with any cool sites or tools that you've discovered from your experience!
Thank you for your participation in the 2013-2014 WxChallenge Forecasting Competition! As always, go Team SBU!