On the skill of numerical weather prediction models to forecast atmospheric rivers over the central United States

This study focused on the skill of five numerical weather prediction models in forecasting atmospheric river (AR) activity over the central United States. Atmospheric Rivers (AR) are regions of enhanced water vapor movement in the lower atmosphere. They occur when circulation in storms creates water vapor in the atmosphere to form a river-like flow pattern of moisture tied to rainfall events.

Researchers found that these models generally forecast AR occurrences well at short lead times (a few days). The skill in forecasting the presence of the AR decreases with increasing lead time. Overall, these models are not skillful in forecasting AR activity over the central United States beyond a lead time of about 7 days.

Nayak, M.A., G. Villarini, and D.A. Lavers, On the skill of numerical weather prediction models to forecast atmospheric rivers over the central United States, Geophysical Research Letter, 41, pp. 4354-4362, 2014.