What Is the Added Value of a Convection-Permitting Model for Forecasting Extreme Rainfall over Tropical East Africa?

Forecasting convective rainfall in the tropics is a major challenge for numerical weather prediction. The use of convection-permitting (CP) forecast models in the tropics has lagged behind the midlatitudes, despite the great potential of such models in this region. In the scientific literature, there is very little evaluation of CP models in the tropics, especially over an extended time period. This paper evaluates the prediction of convective storms for a period of 2 years in the Met Office operational CP model over East Africa and the global operational forecast model. A novel localized form of the fractions skill score is introduced, which shows variation in model skill across the spatial domain. Overall, the CP model and the global model both outperform a 24-h persistence forecast. The CP model shows greater skill than the global model, in particular on subdaily time scales and for storms over land. Forecasts over Lake Victoria are also improved in the CP model, with an increase in hit rate of up to 20%. Contrary to studies in the midlatitudes, the skill of both models shows a large dependence on the time of day and comparatively little dependence on the forecast lead time within a 48-h forecast. Although these results provide more motivation for forecasters to use the CP model to produce sub-daily forecasts with increased detail, there is a clear need for more in situ observations for data assimilation into the models and for verification. A move toward ensemble forecasting could have further benefits.