Date of Award

January 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Atmospheric Sciences

First Advisor

Gretchen L. Mullendore


Winter storms can affect millions of people, with impacts such as disruptions to transportation, hazards to human health, reduction in retail sales, and structural damage. Blizzard forecasts for Alberta Clippers can be a particular challenge in the Northern Plains, as these systems typically depart from the Canadian Rockies, intensify, and impact the Northern Plains all within 24 hours. The purpose of this study is to determine whether probabilistic forecasts derived from a local physics-based ensemble can improve specific aspects of winter storm forecasts for three Alberta Clipper cases.

Verification is performed on the ensemble members and ensemble mean with a focus on quantifying uncertainty in the storm track, two-meter winds, and precipitation using the MERRA and NOHRSC SNODAS datasets. This study finds that addition improvements are needed to proceed with operational use of the ensemble blizzard products, but the use of a proxy for blizzard conditions yields promising results.