Springing into SFE 2018

Somehow, it’s already that time of year again, when Gulf moisture surges northward, strong upper-level dynamics sweep across the contiguous United States, and forecasters and researchers alike flock to NOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed for the annual Spring Forecasting Experiment. The upcoming week looks to be a busy one, with a strong trough poised to move across the United States over the course of the next five days.

This year’s experiment will be quite different than prior experiments, as we’ve listened to the feedback participants have given us. Full details can be found in this year’s Operations Plan,  but some highlights include:

  • Completely redesigned web pages for the forecasts and evaluations, courtesy of our new webmaster Brett Roberts,
  • The capability of participants to dive into the data, with multiple experimental subsets’ data available within the forecast drawing tool,
  • Experimental outlooks driven by ensemble subsets, focusing on high temporal resolution forecasts within the Day 1 period,
  • NEWS-e activities on both the Severe Hazards Desk and the Innovation Desk, allowing all participants to interact daily with the NEWS-e,
  • Larger Chromebooks, with bigger screens to make looking at all this data easier,
  • and of course, a new blog site with more features that I hope to explore throughout the experiment!

Of course, we also will be exploring a number of new concepts in SFE 2018, encompassing both forecast methods and ensemble configuration techniques within the CLUE framework (see Clark et al. 2018 for a formal description of the CLUE from previous years). We’ll  generate probabilistic forecasts of individual hazards over 4-h windows, a timing graphic that communicates when we expect areas to see severe weather, and hourly probabilistic forecasts of severe weather informed by the NEWS-e. We’ll examine the impact of different physics parameterizations in the FV3 model, the impact of stochastic physics perturbations on the WRF-ARW model, new methods of ensemble subsetting based on sensitivity, implementing the MET scorecard for CAM ensembles, and new object-based visualization techniques. This feels like one of the most varied SFEs we’ve had in a while – there’s sure to be something interesting to look at for everyone!

I know I speak for all of the facilitators when I say that we’re excited for this year’s experiment. Whether you’re travelling to Norman over the next five weeks or following along online, we hope that this year’s experiment will provide plenty of interesting results for real-time analysis. Stay tuned!