About the Alaska Medium Range Forecast
The Weather Prediction Center's (WPC) Alaska Medium Range forecasts are part of a National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) commitment to providing meteorological support for areas outside of the contiguous U.S. (OCONUS). The Alaska Medium Range product suite has been developed to mimic that which is currently available for the CONUS. Differences between the product suites are primarily the result of addressing problems specific to the National Weather Service Alaska Region (e.g., highly varied terrain).
The Alaska Medium Range product suite consists of:
One meteorologist is dedicated to Alaska Medium Range forecasting each day, and the shift is scheduled from 1130 UTC to 2030 UTC. The first part of the shift is dedicated to producing the CONUS medium range grids (min/max temperatures, PoPs, etc.). The Alaska forecaster utilizes data from recent deterministic and ensemble model output and collaborates with the CONUS Medium Range forecaster before beginning graphical composition. This collaboration is important because the Alaska Medium Range Fronts and Pressures graphics must be merged with the final CONUS Medium Range Fronts and Pressures graphics for consistency. Deterministic and ensemble model output available to forecasters at NCEP/WPC include the GFS, Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS), Canadian GEM Global, Canadian GEM Ensembles, ECMWF, ECMWF Ensembles, Navy NAVGEM, UKMET, and the North American Ensemble Forecast System (NAEFS).
Graphical forecasts for 500 hPa heights and surface fronts and pressures are generated using blending tools available to WPC forecasters. Gridded forecasts for maximum/minimum temperature, probability of precipitation, and dewpoints, etc. are also created using blending tools available to WPC meteorologists. These tools allow the forecaster to blend preferred solutions from any of the aforementioned deterministic and ensemble forecasts. Generally, the same blends will be used to generate graphics and grids for consistency, but the blend tools do allow forecasters to add a climatology bias to forecasts, which should limit inconsistencies in forecasts with less predictable features. Consequently, the amount of climatology added is generally a function of forecast confidence and predictability.
The Alaska Medium Range Discussion complements the graphical products by outlining the model forecast preference, communicating forecast confidence, conveying areas of uncertainty and providing a catalyst for collaboration between WPC and NWS Alaska Region Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs).