Journal of Meteorological Research

, Volume 33, Issue 5, pp 797–809 | Cite as

Forecasting Different Types of Convective Weather: A Deep Learning Approach

  • Kanghui ZhouEmail author
  • Yongguang Zheng
  • Bo Li
  • Wansheng Dong
  • Xiaoling Zhang
Regular Article


A deep learning objective forecasting solution for severe convective weather (SCW) including short-duration heavy rain (HR), hail, convective gusts (CG), and thunderstorms based on numerical weather prediction (NWP) data was developed. We first established the training datasets as follows. Five years of severe weather observations were utilized to label the NCEP final (FNL) analysis data. A large number of labeled samples for each type of weather were then selected for model training. The local temperature, pressure, humidity, and winds from 1000 to 200 hPa, as well as dozens of convective physical parameters, were taken as predictors in our model. A six-layer convolutional neural network (CNN) model was then built and trained to obtain optimal model weights. After that, the trained model was used to predict SCW based on the Global Forecast System (GFS) forecast data as input. The performances of the CNN model and other traditional methods were compared. The results show that the deep learning algorithm had a higher classification accuracy on HR and hail than support vector machine, random forests, and other traditional machine learning algorithms. The objective forecasts by use of the deep learning algorithm also showed better forecasting skills than the subjective forecasts by the forecasters. The threat scores (TSs) of thunderstorm, HR, hail, and CG were increased by 16.1%, 33.2%, 178%, and 55.7%, respectively. The deep learning forecast model is currently used in the National Meteorological Center of China to provide guidance for the operational SCW forecasting over China.

Key words

deep learning convolutional neural network convective weather forecasting 


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The authors thank the editor, one anonymous reviewer, and Dr. David J. Gagne at NCAR for their constructive comments that have greatly improved the content and presentation of this article. One of the authors, Bo Li, acknowledges partial support from the US NSF grants AGS-1602845 and DMS-1830312.


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Copyright information

© The Chinese Meteorological Society and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kanghui Zhou
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Yongguang Zheng
    • 3
  • Bo Li
    • 4
  • Wansheng Dong
    • 1
  • Xiaoling Zhang
    • 3
  1. 1.Chinese Academy of Meteorological SciencesChina Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.National Meteorological CenterChina Meteorological AdministrationBeijingChina
  4. 4.University of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignChampaignUSA

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