Downscaling surface wind predictions from numerical weather prediction models in complex terrain with WindNinja
Abstract. Wind predictions in complex terrain are important for a number of applications. Dynamic downscaling of numerical weather prediction (NWP) model winds with a high-resolution wind model is one way to obtain a wind forecast that accounts for local terrain effects, such as wind speed-up over ridges, flow channeling in valleys, flow separation around terrain obstacles, and flows induced by local surface heating and cooling. In this paper we investigate the ability of a mass-consistent wind model for downscaling near-surface wind predictions from four NWP models in complex terrain. Model predictions are compared with surface observations from a tall, isolated mountain. Downscaling improved near-surface wind forecasts under high-wind (near-neutral atmospheric stability) conditions. Results were mixed during upslope and downslope (non-neutral atmospheric stability) flow periods, although wind direction predictions generally improved with downscaling. This work constitutes evaluation of a diagnostic wind model at unprecedented high spatial resolution in terrain with topographical ruggedness approaching that of typical landscapes in the western US susceptible to wildland fire.