Articles | Volume 11, issue 2
Research article
22 Feb 2011
Research article |  | 22 Feb 2011

Forecasting severe ice storms using numerical weather prediction: the March 2010 Newfoundland event

J. Hosek, P. Musilek, E. Lozowski, and P. Pytlak

Abstract. The northeast coast of North America is frequently hit by severe ice storms. These freezing rain events can produce large ice accretions that damage structures, frequently power transmission and distribution infrastructure. For this reason, it is highly desirable to model and forecast such icing events, so that the consequent damages can be prevented or mitigated. The case study presented in this paper focuses on the March 2010 ice storm event that took place in eastern Newfoundland. We apply a combination of a numerical weather prediction model and an ice accretion algorithm to simulate a forecast of this event.

The main goals of this study are to compare the simulated meteorological variables to observations, and to assess the ability of the model to accurately predict the ice accretion load for different forecast horizons. The duration and timing of the freezing rain event that occurred between the night of 4 March and the morning of 6 March was simulated well in all model runs. The total precipitation amounts in the model, however, differed by up to a factor of two from the observations. The accuracy of the model air temperature strongly depended on the forecast horizon, but it was acceptable for all simulation runs. The simulated accretion loads were also compared to the design values for power delivery structures in the region. The results indicated that the simulated values exceeded design criteria in the areas of reported damage and power outages.