GLM and Lightning Cast

The GLM parallax showed up again Thursday, June 16th, over the PBZ area. This was even more evident than yesterday’s event in WI that was written about in a blog post.  Figure 1 has ProbSevere, LightningCast, GLM Flash Extent Density, and ENTLN data overlaid in a 4-panel.  This case was fairly simple to “self correct” the parallax as the GLM was clearly displaced to the north of ProbSevere (as well as the base reflectivity).  Really once you get a few cases under your belt recognizing the parallax, it’s not too challenging to keep that “self correct” in the back of your mind.  One interesting thing to note about Figure 1 is the storm just outside the PBZ CWA just south of Mount Veron, Ohio (See bottom left in Figure 1).  The ProbSevere and GLM FED are lined up perfectly and this is a great example of utilizing the lower threshold in the colormap. The bullseye shows up much nicer than the larger thresholds in the top two images.

Figure 1: GLM with ProbSevere and LightningCast

– Podium

ProbSevere V3 Adjusting During New Cell Formation

ProbSevere V3 has been showing much improvement over version two, with this particular day featuring somewhat pusley mixed-mode storms across upstate New York. This particular group of cells had habitual new updraft development, with storms nearing or briefly becoming severe as high dBZ cores develop aloof then make their way downward. These particular cells were able to form 1.00” hail. The ProbSevere V3 time series reflected the marginally severe nature of these storms very well, with values peaking at 60 to 65%. The very encouraging sign was the peaks and valleys in the ProbSevere V3 time series that showed this group of cells peaking at over 50% severe probabilities, dipping below 50% as the new updraft takes over, and then once again peaking above 50% once the new updraft strengthened. I’d definitely recommend forecasters to take a look at the timeseries to build confidence in cell trends during warning applications.

Shown above is the group of cells, with the initial one showing a core of 60+ dBZ that begins to drift off to the northwest while a newer updraft takes over and moves more east-northeast.

– aerobeaver

ProbSevere Time Series

I utilized the ProbSevere Time Series in warning operations today (June 16, 2022) within the Pittsburgh, PA CWA.  With only using basic radar products and no other products  (that I’d normally use during warning operations), it was extremely helpful in warning decision making.  After issuing several warnings already and monitoring a storm quickly developing in the western portions of the CWA that was getting close to severe, I issued a warning based on an uptick in the ProbSevere Time Series (See Figure 1 vs Figure 2).  The uptick in ProbHail occurred within about 5-6 minutes or roughly 2 radar scans of the PBZ WSR-88D prompted a warning.  The storm continued for several minutes and regenerated about 30 minutes later that prompted another warning downstream (See Figure 3).

Figure 1: ProbSevere Time Series at 2056z

Figure 2: ProbSevere Time Series at 2100z

Figure 3: ProbSevere Time Series Plots.

– Podium

GLM & Prob Severe in Low Radar Coverage

With the Buffalo CWA being a long and narrow forecast area, there are areas where the Buffalo Radar doesn’t provide good coverage. On a day like today where their second radar (KTYX) isn’t providing any data, the entire eastern half of the CWA has the Buffalo radar hitting storms at 20 kft or higher. This meant that we had to more heavily rely on Satellite data for warning operations.

Looking at the northeast corner of the CWA we had convection popping for a few hours along a frontal boundary. Being able to look at spikes in the GLM over time and Prob Severe time scales and just instances in the Prob Severe were very helpful with determining what was going on in the lower levels that weren’t visible on radar. As one storm over the lake begins to move inland there is a jump in the GLM and Prob Severe.

Being able to see the upward trends in time with the prob severe over time and then the increasing GLM was a big confidence boost to put out a warning.

-Cirrus Fields

Pre-Convective Environment Across GRB

With a busy day still underway across Wisconsin, the use of the Optical Flow Winds, GLM, Prob Severe, and NUCAPS soundings were a big help in looking at the pre-convective storm environment and in warning operations.

When it came to looking at sounding data we had a NOAA-20, and AQUA pass for the polar orbiting satellites, that we could then compare to the special observed sounding from GRB.

There are some spatial differences in the locations since each satellite doesn’t pass over the exact location and the observed sounding came from the GRB office. I ended up grabbing NUCAPS soundings from west of the office where I thought the better storm environment would be. Regardless of this they do show great information over a temporal and spatial scale.
Just between Aqua (bottom image) and NOAA-20 (middle image) you can see that the environment becomes much more moist over time (AQUA came around 19Z and NOAA-20 came around 18Z). The increase in temperatures and dew points in the low levels between the two NUCAPS soundings show that there was increasing low level lapse rates and increasing CAPE through time. Then compare both of these to the special sounding sent out by GRB, you can see AQUAs vast improvement in the low level over NOAA-20. The one caveat seems to be the smoothing of the values in the mid levels. Smoothing seems to have decreased the values almost too much for both satellite soundings. It is fairly within reason given that there is a dry layer in the mid levels on the observed, but the smoothing looks to have slightly overdone it.
Moving on to the GLM, it was very helpful when boosting confidence in the warning operations. There were lightning spikes collocated with increasing rotation and reflectivity. The one things worth mentioning is to have a reminder or maybe even have offices lower/change the color curves for FED prior to the start of an event. It could even be a permanent change that some offices make.
Since I was the only one in the group to check, compare, and lower the FED color curve accordingly it was much easier to pick out lightning jumps. From the graphic above alone, 0-65 was much more informative than 0-128 or 0-260.
The last thing worth mentioning for the day was the Optical Flow Winds. While this was helpful in a warning environment to look at storm top divergence and speed of the winds at the tops of clouds, I was able to find another great use for it. In the pre convective environment I had pulled up the Optical Flow Winds and noticed that it was tracking winds and speeds of clouds over Lake Michigan. In an area where any wind information and observation data can be very sparse to near non-existent. The optical flow winds could be very helpful for open waters forecasting.
-Cirrus Fields

Can PHS Improve Mesoanalysis and Near Term Convective Forecasts?

A large portion of the MKX CWA was included in a MDT severe risk, so by the start of the operational period, we had to assess the evolving severe threat spreading in from the west. Meanwhile, our DSS event was the Madison Jazz Festival, which entailed a focus specifically on south central Wisconsin. The PHS CAPE forecast appeared to be a noteworthy improvement from the CAPE fields on the SPC Mesoanalysis, along with the short-term forecast on that page.

Below are the 18z through 20z plots of MUCAPE, MUCIN and effective bulk shear from the SPC Mesoanalysis page.

Compare the above images with 4000 J/kg of uncapped MUCAPE to the PHS MUCAPE initialization at 18z and 2-hour forecasts (19z and 20z) below.

As you can see, while the SPC mesoanalysis was indicating 4,000 J/kg of uncapped MUCAPE, the PHS forecast showed CAPE decreasing across central and south central Wisconsin. This was an important and helpful piece of information for our DSS content for the Madison Jazz Festival.

The Day Cloud Phase RGB images below back up the PHS forecast vs the SPC mesoanalysis, as relatively flat Cu field over our area of interest actually dissipated between 20z and 22z.

Based on the PHS forecast combined with satellite analysis, we were able to focus the convective threat for the Madison area toward 6PM and onward, tied to the stronger forcing and better moisture arriving from the west where the ongoing convection resided closer to the cold front. It appears that the PHS sampling of moisture in the column applied to the near-term forecast strongly outperformed the SPC/RAP Mesoanalysis model background and OA algorithm.

Differences between the LightningCast (LC) CONUS and LC Mesos

Note below the CONUS scale (1st image) and Mesos (Meso Sector 2 on 6/15) had a different depiction of the lightning probability over northeast Iowa at 1911z 22Jun15. This was due to the time for a CONUS GOES-East scan to complete, vs. the much shorter time for a Meso sector, which in turn affects the LightningCast model. This is something to keep in mind when using the product.

ProbSevereV3 Trends for Severe Convection in Western/Southwestern Wisconsin

At 2106z, the ARX office had recently issued a Tornado Warning (2102z) for the northern cell with a high % on PSV3 and PTV3, per the noted superior calibration of the updated model vs. the V2. Could the PSV3 and PTV3 trend on this storm have assisted the radar operator in an increased lead time? As you can see below, starting at 2045z, there was a sharp upward trend in the ProbTor, to near 40% prior to 21z. At the least, this tool appears to be an excellent situational awareness tool, and may even be able to help lead time in some cases. It helped us in the MKX CWA regarding downstream warning issuances. In the event of an unexpected radar outage in a sparse radar coverage area, environmental analysis plus satellite interrogation with the utility of PSv3 could support successful radar warning ops in a less than ideal scenario.

– Hurricane84

Situational Awareness and Lead Time with LightningCast and ProbSevere/Tor

Today’s experience landed us in MKX monitoring convective development potential across the western portion of the CWA, with a line of storms ultimately moving in from the west, and some risk of discrete cells persisting even after we ceased the experiment.

I took the opportunity today to set up procedures overlaying PHSnABI indices (CAPE) with satellite imagery (e.g. Day/Cloud Phase or Viz), to see how well it corresponded with convective development. Unfortunately I didn’t grab a screenshot, but it was a nifty display that I hope to use again. PHSnABI suggested that CAPE in some areas of the CWA was not as high as the SPC mesoanalysis or RAP suggested. We tried to investigate this using a combination of NUCAPS and model soundings and RAOB, but couldn’t figure out a reason for the CAPE depression before incoming storms grabbed our attention. Notably, the indices derived only from GOES agreed with PHSnABI about this depression, though we couldn’t figure out if it was correct. It seems likely the GOES ABI was driving the PHSnABI result.

My main takeaway the rest of today is how useful ProbSever, ProbTor, and LightningCast can be with approaching/developing convection.

LightningCast, combined with GLM data, was useful for IDSS imagery to depict position and potential of lightning (example DSS slide using these graphics provided below).  Storms never made it to our decision point prior to leaving the experiment, but lightning threat was usefully communicated to the simulated JazzFest event.

As convection developed, we also practiced relying on probSevere and probTor for lead time in anticipating warnings. The following shows an example where the probTor trends corresponded well with ARX’s actual decision to issue a tornado warning.

SImilarly, intensification of the convective line appeared to be well detected. In fact, depending on what threshold of the probSevere parameters is relied on (probably depends on environment and other factors), the escalating value could have given useful lead time for a severe issuance decision.

Although the main mode appeared to be a line of convection, there were positions along the line where tornado risk seemed to increase (evidenced by radar velocity). It was reassuring to see probTor pick up on the gradually increasing risk of tornadoes as well.

And one final note… lightningCast is fairly impressive in how it produces calibrated estimates of lightning occurrence using only a single time step of satellite imagery (though it uses several bands of the ABI). Naturally lightningCast has difficulty where a developing tower is obscured by an anvil overhead, as we saw in this example. But it was neat to see lightningCast immediately respond with a broader swath of high lightning probabilities the very first time that a tower poked above the anvil that previously obscured it.  The fact that it was hidden probably means lightning could have been occurring below the anvil with lower than ideal lightningCast probabilities (though non-zero, to its credit), but it was neat to see the immediate adjustment to the probability contours with new imagery.

– Buzz Lightyear

ProbSvr V3 ProbTor

The LaCrosse office was busy today with multiple storms that exhibited rotation. ProbSvr/ProbTor was helpful in the case of situational awareness and triaging the storms. Below is an example of a case where ProbTor decreased significantly over a period of a few minutes. In this case, ProTor slowly increases over a 10-15 minutes as the storm exhibits some rotation. A lightning jump was also noted with the peak probabilities of ProbTor around 40% at 2016 UTC. All of the parameters decrease significantly over a 5-6 minute period of time by 2022 UTC (images of reflectivity and velocity are included below). The lightning decreases dramatically as seen in the chart below as does the azimuthal shear (based on the chart and 0.5 velocity). A severe was already out for this storm and ProbSvr remained high throughout much of the lifecycle of the storm. As the warning forecaster, it was nice to see the confirmation of the lower probabilities. A severe warning was already out and the storm was covered for those threats. It was nice to have the confirmation from ProbTor to turn my attention to other storms that may need a warning or be on the verge of warning issuance.

2016 UTC 0.5 Reflectivity

2016 UTC 0.5 Velocity

2022 UTC 0.5 Reflectivity

2022 UTC 0.5 Velocity.

– Marty McFly

Storm Movement and Severity at TAE

Down in Tallahassee, there are two boundary layers where storms are initiating or ongoing.  There is a lingering MCS that moved down from the Midwest overnight and a Sea Breeze. You can see the CAPE gradients along the both boundaries and how that progresses forward in time with both the boundaries interacting with one another.




This tracks very well when you overlay the visible satellite imagery with the PHS images as you can see the cumulus field along the CAPE gradient. This gives a good visualization of where storms are initiating along the Sea Breeze and the strongest storm movement along the MCS.
As these two boundaries move closer together they will be moving into a more favorable low level environment. It would be nice to have the Polar Orbiting Satellite NUCAPS sounding data available. This way we could verify lapse rates and what Prob Severe is giving us. While an upper level ridge is in place over the southern CONUS what sounding information we did have early on in the forecast period was very helpful as outside of the storm environment skies were clear. I was able to grab some gridded NUCAPS data that shows the diurnal destabilization of the low levels from 18Z. Now that it is 21Z, that data isn’t as helpful in either a warning or pre convective event because things could have changed drastically in the 3 hrs since the last Polar Orbiter moved through.
After overlaying Prob Severe with the PHS CAPE and Visible Satellite imagery, you can see your strongest storms along the CAPE gradient which tracks well. However, there are differences between Prob Severe Version 2 and Version 3.
A great example of the differences between PSv3 and PSv2 is with one of the strongest storms of the day for the Tallahassee CWA. Version 2 seems to try to highlight a hail threat at 48% while Version 3 has prob severe hail at 6%.  It seems that Version 2 is overestimating the Hail threat for this area. Especially given the subpar mid level lapse rates at 5 C/km or less, storm motion of around 5 kts or less and the upper level subsidence. The storm environment just is not conducive to produce quarter sized or larger hail.
– Cirrus Fields

Differences in Prob Severe v2 vs v3

Some significant differences in probabilities for v2 vs v3. Noted on this storm in northern New Mexico. Not quite sure the reasoning for this large discrepancy.

Storm ID: 346478 in Northern New Mexico June 9, 2022.

Notable Differences in ProbSevere in the time series.

Storms going up right along forecasted boundary from PHS CAPE

Storms developing in Prowers County in southeastern Colorado.

– David Spritz