MAF Testbed Observations

ProbSevere v3

For the initiation of convective storms, I found that the ProbSevere performed the best over the other products available to me today. I have seen over the last couple of days that the best use of ProbSevere is the trend table. The steep increase in these total severe values support radar trends that suggest a warning is necessary. For the initial warning on severe storms, this was the best use.

The only negative to this product was the latency. While the latency was only on the order of 2-5 minutes, this was equivalent to appx. 2 radar scans that indicated to me ahead of time that this storm was strengthening. This can lead to some confusion especially if the storm is quickly pulsing and falling.

Additional upticks were noticed in subsequent SVR issuances throughout the afternoon that provided a nice heads-up in conjunction with the radar data. These were used in the context of the storm maintaining its strength after the storm was warned and again after the storm re-pulsed several minutes later.

It is also worth mentioning that the perceived threat of ProbSevere was also the shared opinion of the forecast (forecaster perceived threat for hail had the highest ProbS. probability). Once the storms reach the “cap” of their ProbSevere, it becomes of little use.


GLM was useful during convective initiation, but did best for storms that were already at the peak of the ProbSevere threshold. GLM showed additional pulses in a mature storm that had a 90% probability of being severe and added confidence to the warning forecaster that the storm had gained additional strength which manifested itself in larger hail for example.
It was however short-lived as the storm gained additional intensity but did not show the corresponding increase in GLM FED that one would expect. This was explained as a limitation due to the structure of a mature (and severe) thunderstorm.
Min Flash Area also reached its lower values on several storms which provided little to no additional data. Maybe this used in conjunction with total optical energy would be useful, but this yielded no significant results when investigating briefly.

PHS Model

The PHS model was very useful today ahead of convective initiation, but more so in an advective situation.
Instability parameters were observed as ongoing severe storms moved SW toward the established instability gradient. ProbSevere outlined areas are moving SW in the image below across an area of relatively high CAPE and low LIs. This provided useful information about the existence of a boundary and the motion of the storms along with the pre-conditioned environment.
The model did have limitations as the storms became ingested into the later runs of the model and the storms showed developed cold pools. The environment depicted in this situation had become dominated by nearby cold pools of incorrectly placed convection which limited the model’s usefulness.


Not much use of the lightning cast today due to the lack of CI within our CWA, but we did get a chance to look at the advection of lightning. In general, this proved to be a little too slow. It seemed the contours were tight to the storm and storm motion was rather slow, but the lead time on lightning detection was around 30-40 minutes. With an advecting storm, I would have expected this to be rather accurate to the 60 minute threshold that it attempts to achieve, but 30-40 minutes is still VERY useful for DSS and now-casting purposes.


NUCAPS had some interesting results today, primarily in the way it reported green, yellow, and red data points. Some of the gridded data was unavailable for points with green-retrieval and this was puzzling because it would have indicated a dry slot over the DFW region that was evident in the water vapor and visible satellite. However, the data grid boxes were missing or contaminated with bad data over a mostly clear area. Areas with similar cloud coverage performed as expected. The pop-up skew-t continues to be the best tool in this suite of products, provided the data points are green-retrieval.

Optical Flow Winds

Not much use on the optical flow winds today due to the fact that ongoing convection muddied the data. Overshooting tops were visible for a brief moment, but quickly engulfed in strong storms and expanding anvils. The divergence field is really hard to gather meaningful intel from and the existing platform outside of AWIPS limits its overall usage. A suggestion in our group today was that divergence could be useful if the noise is limited. Perhaps remove values above and below a certain threshold. Instead of widespread values, draw attention to the important outliers.
– Overcast Ambience

Day 2 thoughts


Can there be a circle (or some reference) around the NUCAPS point that I am currently using for a sounding?  That way I have a reference on the map for where the sounding is that I am looking at.

Can more than two NUCAPS sounding be loaded into an AWIPS pane?  If so, would nice be able to compare soundings/environments more easily.

Having the ability to display one NUCAPS sounding when I have two loaded in Sharppy would be helpful.  Even when loading two soundings and only have one in “focus” the two soundings overwrite each other.  Can this setup be similar to AWIPS that allows us to have multiple soundings loaded and be able to turn one or both of them on when we choose?

Compared a couple NUCAPS soundings surface conditions to the obs for a couple locations and they look reasonable.

Looking at the forecast CAPE/CIN from NUCAPS, the gridded field for CIN is quite splotchy.  Bulls eyes of much higher CIN seem overdone compared to what is expected during the mid afternoon with full sun and with what the SPC mesoanalysis has.  This would make me question how accurate it is.   Looking at the forecast, there is no consistent trend with the CIN bulls eyes, which lowers my confidence in this field. The CAPE field is more uniform, though still splotchy.  The areas of higher CAPE are more consistent, giving me more confidence in this field than the CIN.  Is there a way to average out this field more to make it smoother?  If so, that would greatly increase my confidence in this parameter and my likelihood of using it in the future.

Noticed the surface based CAPE in AWIPS vs. Sharppy was quite a bit higher in Sharppy.

Compared the ML CAPE in a modified NUCAPS sounding in AWIPS and an unmodified NUCAPS sounding in Sharppy and the modified lined up much more closely with the SPC mesoanalysis page.  The the ML CAPE in the unmodified sounding in Sharppy was too low.  Surface based CAPE was actually more representative in the unmodified sounding.

As mentioned earlier, would be nice to compare more than two sounding points for NUCAPS to aid in comparing the environment more easily.

Having the NUCAPS 2m temperature and DP in F instead of C would be much more useable and easier to compare to surface observations.

Noticed the 2m temperature for the gridded NUCAPS was cooler by 5-8 C compared to the observations.  This makes me looks confidence with the CAPE and CIN plots if the surface temperatures are not accurate.  Is there a way to grid the modified NUCAPS data?  When I forecast I like to view parameters in a gridded fashion in the horizontal.  This helps me better understand what is going on with the environment.

Compared the NUCAPS 700-500mb lapse rates to those on SPC’s mesoanalysis page and found the NUCAPS was close, but on the cool side.

In our data sparse CWA, I can see these soundings as being quite useful, as long as forecasters understand the low levels (assuming below 850mb) are less likely to be representative.

Taking a look at the minimum flash area…

Difficult for me to really see any sort of trend with the 1 minute data.  Nothing really catches my eye.  The 5 minute data is much more easy to see trends.  

As mentioned yesterday, am able to see more valuable information with trends in the storm than with flash density.


Looking at the optical winds…

The background is a bit too dark.  Can the Lat/Lon be put below the imagery?  Having it above seems to detract from what is being displayed.  Adding state borders, cities, would add to the usability of this product, especially if these labels can be turned on and off.

I like being able to pan the image.

I can see this being handy for monitoring for LLWS for aviation, assuming there are clouds to track.  Could this data be merged with NUCAPS to plot shear and helicity?   

Changing the density of the vectors would be handy.  

Color coding the different levels and matching it to the key is easy to determine what level I am looking at.  

Could this track the speed of dust?  If so, could help determine how strong the winds are in dust storms.

Curious why the pressure levels are broken down into 200mb intervals.  Could the winds also be tied to theta levels to help with isentropic analysis?

Having contours for the winds would help limit information overload as far as what is being shown.  Being able to control the density of the number of wind vectors would help, however that could lose some data.  Contours of the wind vectors, say every 5 or 10 kts, could help summarize what the individual vectors are showing.