Reid Hawkins’ view of the June 1-5 HWT Spring Experiment

As I sit here at the Will Rogers Airport in Oklahoma City waiting on a plane that is 2 hours late, I wanted to reflect on my experiences with the 2009 HWT Spring Weather Experiment. This reflection will be in more in the style of stream of consciences so I hope someone out there can follow it.

1st a well deserved round of applause for Steve W, Jack, and Matt on steering us through the plethora of numerical models and the objective verification techniques of DTC. Our week started off with a rather well behaved and straight forward event over the northern Mississippi Valley into the northern plains. The second day was a highly frustrating forecast over Oklahoma, Kansas, and Northern Texas where overnight convection and gravity wave played havoc to the forecast and lack of convection over Oklahoma. The third day was even more frustrating with a weaker forced case south of an east-west stationary front from northern Virginia and back to Kentucky. The final case was a high plains case from Wyoming and Nebraska southward to the Texas Panhandle.

For our week of evaluating the models, my first impression was the number of models that provided a whole host of solutions. Through experience from the staff, they steered us to look at the reflectivity fields, outflows and updrafts instead of digging ourselves into a myriad of model fields that no one could have possibly looked at in the short time we had to prepare a forecast outlook. After shifting my paradigm to this style of forecasting which was somewhat uncomfortable, it was a comfortable feeling when we saw similar results from the models. This was not a common event as most of the cases were marginal or weakly forced.

One concern I have is that I did not see a huge bang for the money in the 1 km Caps model runs vs. the 4 km Caps models. There was a huge discussion about the assimilation of the data into the models and my thoughts are that until we sample the atmosphere with higher resolution, frequency and more accurately then I do not see where the higher scale models will provide better results for forecast operations. This is just an opinion and I hope the modelers can prove me wrong.

Another concern, I have is the way the data is displayed to the forecaster. With the wealth of data that is available and our current display techniques, I am afraid this has or will force many forecasters to find a comfort level of what data types to use. This means there may be valuable data sets to view but due to comfort level and time constraints these data sets may never be used.

Overall, the week was extremely enlightening on seeing the techniques that are being developed to help the forecaster. In time as the development envelop is pushed, I expect to see great information delivered to the operational desk. I am somewhat disheartened but not surprised on the lack of help we saw in weakly forced environments.

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