Article ID: 2018-011
Heavy precipitation fell over Tokyo in the afternoon of 26 August 2011, leading to flooding and major disruptions for the population, businesses, and authorities. Over 150 mm of precipitation was observed over the city center on that day, with hourly accumulations reaching values as high as 90 mm in late afternoon. Numerical forecasts of this case were performed with a 250-m grid spacing version of the Global Environmental Multi-scale (GEM) model in the context of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area Convection Study (TOMACS). Although initialized only from a global 25-km upper-air analysis, results indicate that GEM is able to produce the intense precipitation over Tokyo at about the right location and time.
A sensitivity test in which the urban surface scheme is switched off and replaced with tall grass suggests that the urban environment might have had considerable impact on precipitation intensity, but not on its occurrence or its timing. Based on diagnostics from the GEM integrations, the increased intensity of precipitation seems more related to an enhancement of lateral inflow of low-level moist static energy from Tokyo Bay than to augmented surface fluxes of heat and humidity from the city itself. The existence of low-level bands with locally high values of equivalent potential temperature indicates that the additional moist energy is distributed unevenly through the Tokyo area, an aspect of the simulation which is speculated to have directly contributed to the increase in precipitation intensity over the city.