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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Urban-scale Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) systems will be important tools for decision-making in and around large cities in a changing climate exposed to more extreme weather events. Such a state-of-the-art real-time system down to 250-m grid spacing was implemented in the context of the Toronto 2015 Panamerican games, Canada (PanAm). Combined with the Global Environmental Multiscale (GEM) model, attention was brought to the representation of the detailed urban landscape, and to the inclusion of sub-daily variation of the Great Lakes surface temperature. Results show a refined representation of the urban coastal environment micro-meteorology with a strong anisotropy of the urban heat island reaching about 2 °C on average for the summer season, coastal upwelling, and mesoscale features such as cumulus clouds and lake-breeze flow. Objective evaluation at the surface with a dense observational network reveals an overall good performance of the system and a clear improvement in comparison to reference forecasts at 2.5-km grid spacing in particular for standard deviation errors in urban areas up to 0.3 °C for temperature and dew point temperature, and up to 0.5 m s−1 for the wind speed, as well as for precipitation with an increased Equitable Threat Score (ETS) by up to 0.3 for the evening accumulation. The study provides confidence in the capacity of the new system to improve weather forecasts to be delivered to urban dwellers although further investigation of the initialization methods in urban areas is needed.