North American Mesoscale Model (NAM) forecasts of low-level temperature and dewpoint during persistent valley cold pools in the Bonneville Basin of Utah are assessed. Stations near the east sidewall have a daytime cold and nighttime warm bias. This is due to a poor representation of the steep slopes on this side of the basin. Basin stations where the terrain is better represented by the model have a distinct warm, moist bias at night. Stations in snow-covered areas have a cold bias for both day and night. Biases are not dependent on forecast lead or validation time. Several potential causes for the various errors are considered in a series of sensitivity experiments. An experiment with 4-km grid spacing, which better resolves the gradient of the slopes on the east side of the basin, yields smaller errors along the east corridor of the basin. The NAM assumes all soil water freezes at a temperature of 273 K. This is likely not representative of the freezing temperature in the salt flats in the western part of the basin, since salt reduces the freezing point of water. An experiment testing this hypothesis shows that reducing the freezing point of soil water in the salt flats leads to an average error reduction between 1.5 and 4 K, depending on the station and time of day. Using a planetary boundary layer scheme that has greater mixing alleviates the cold bias over snow somewhat, but the exact source of this bias could not be determined.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Atmospheric Science