Early warnings of extreme winds using the ECMWF Extreme Forecast Index

Thomas I. Petroliagis, Pierre Pinson

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The European FP7 SafeWind Project aims at developing research towards a European vision of wind power forecasting, which requires advanced meteorological support concerning extreme wind events. This study is focused mainly on early warnings of extreme winds in the early medium-range. Three synoptic stations (airports) of North Germany (Bremen, Hamburg and Hannover) were considered for the construction of time series of daily maximum wind speeds. All daily wind extremes were found to be linked to very intense surface cyclonic circulation systems being advected mainly by southwest and northwest flow regimes. Overall, it becomes clear that the first indications of an extreme wind event might come from the ECMWF deterministic and/or probabilistic components capturing very intense weather systems (possible windstorms) in the medium term. For early warnings, all available EPS Extreme Forecast Index (EFI) formulations were used, by linking daily maximum wind speeds to EFI values for different forecast horizons. From all possible EFI schemes deployed for issuing early warnings, the highest skill was found for the Gust Factor formulation (EFI-10FGI). Using EFI-10FGI, the corresponding 99% threshold could provide an early warning for a considerable portion of the > 99% wind extremes, but not for all. By lowering this threshold the number of hits is increased until all extremes are captured (zero misses), although by doing so the number of false alarms increased significantly. Consequently, an optimal trade-off between hits and false alarms has to be made when setting different (critical) EFI thresholds.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMeteorological Applications
Pages (from-to)171–185
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Ensemble prediction system
  • Predictability
  • Rare severe events
  • Early warnings
  • Critical thresholds
  • Alerts
  • Alarm bells
  • Gust factor

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