Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Forecasting Intense Cut-Off Lows in South Africa Using the 4.4 Km Unified Model

Version 1 : Received: 11 August 2020 / Approved: 13 August 2020 / Online: 13 August 2020 (08:10:27 CEST)

How to cite: Muofhe, T.P.; Chikoore, H.; Bopape, M.; Nethengwe, N.S.; Ndarana, T.; Rambuwani, G.T. Forecasting Intense Cut-Off Lows in South Africa Using the 4.4 Km Unified Model. Preprints 2020, 2020080295 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202008.0295.v1). Muofhe, T.P.; Chikoore, H.; Bopape, M.; Nethengwe, N.S.; Ndarana, T.; Rambuwani, G.T. Forecasting Intense Cut-Off Lows in South Africa Using the 4.4 Km Unified Model. Preprints 2020, 2020080295 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202008.0295.v1).

Abstract

Mid-tropospheric cut-off low (COL) pressure systems are linked to severe weather, heavy rainfall and extreme cold conditions over South Africa. They often result in floods and snowfalls in winter disrupting economic activities. This paper examines the evolution and circulation patterns associated with severe COLs over South Africa. We evaluate the performance of the 4.4 km Unified Model (UM) which is currently used operationally by the South African Weather Service to simulate daily rainfall. Circulation variables and precipitation simulated by the UM were compared against ECMWF’s ERA Interim reanalyses and GPM precipitation at 24-hour timesteps. We present five recent (2016-2019) severe COLs that had high impact and found higher model skill when simulating heavy precipitation during the initial stages than the dissipating stages of the systems. A key finding was that the UM underestimated precipitation mainly due to inaccurate placing of COL centers and areas of heavy rainfall by up to 5° of latitude away from the actual location, due to the poor formulating of cumulus and microphysics schemes in the model. Understanding the performance and limitations of the UM model in simulating COL characteristics can benefit severe weather forecasting and contribute to disaster risk reduction in South Africa.

Subject Areas

cut-off lows; circulation patterns; heavy precipitation; floods; forecast skill; unified model; GPM precipitation

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