Seasonal Noise Versus Subseasonal Signal: Forecasts of California Precipitation During the Unusual Winters of 2015–2016 and 2016–2017

Wang, Shuguang; Anichowski, Alek J.; Tippett, Michael K.; Sobel, Adam H.

Subseasonal forecasts of California precipitation during the unusual winters of 2015–2016 and 2016–2017 are examined in this study. It is shown that two different ensemble forecast systems were able to predict monthly precipitation anomalies in California during these periods with some skill in forecasts initialized near or at the start of the month. The unexpected anomalies in February 2016, as well as in January and February 2017, were associated with shifts in the position of the jet stream over the northeast Pacific in a manner broadly consistent with associations found in larger ensembles of forecasts. These results support the broader notion that what is unpredictable atmospheric noise at the seasonal time scale can become predictable signal at the subseasonal time scale, despite that the lead times and verification averaging times associated with these forecasts are outside the predictability horizons of canonical midrange weather forecasting.

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Geophysical Research Letters

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