Gab at the Lab: Matt Mahalik

Matt Mahalik, Research Associate (CIMMS/NSSL)


Background:M.S. Atmospheric Science, Texas Tech University (2015)
B.S. Meteorology/Climatology/GIS, The Pennsylvania State University (2012)
Experience:Matt grew up in Pennsylvania and South Carolina, and earned his bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Penn State University. During his undergraduate studies, he was active in the Penn State chapters of the AMS and NWA. He was also a NOAA Hollings Scholar and spent time at the NWS forecast office in Melbourne, Florida, in 2011. He went on to earn his Master’s degree from Texas Tech University in 2015, focusing his studies on supercell modeling and vorticity dynamics, working with mobile radars, and maintaining West Texas Mesonet stations.
What He Does:Matt started with OU CIMMS in July 2015. He is a part of the Severe Weather Warning Applications and Technology Transfer group in the Warning Research and Development Division. He describes himself as a writer, tester, and fixer of algorithms for the Warning Decision Support System -- Integrated Information. Currently, he is working on azimuthal shear applications, including rotation tracks, and developing divergent shear. Matt also contributes to several other projects with the Lab, including Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor severe weather applications and the Multi-Year Reanalysis of Remotely Sensed Storms program. In addition, he is helping develop mesocyclone and tornado detection algorithms with the Radar Operations Center, and assists severe weather researchers at the OU School of Meteorology.
Trivia: Matt was a campus tour guide at Penn State. In his spare time, Matt enjoys road trips, attending college football games, and the occasional storm chase. Some miscellaneous favorites of his include Carolina BBQ, red dirt country music, and a surprising amount of hip hop.

Share this:

Gab at the Lab: John Lawson

John Lawson, Postdoctoral Research Associate (CIMMS/NSSL)


Background:Ph.D. Meteorology, Iowa State University
M.S. Meteorology, University of Utah
MMet Meteorology, University of Reading (UK)
Experience:John was born in Stockton-on-Tees in the United Kingdom. He earned his MMet degree at the University of Reading, and was able to come to Oklahoma on a foreign exchange during that program of study. This eventually led to his decision to pursue a Master’s degree at the University of Utah, where he took part in field studies of downslope windstorms. He then went on to earn his Ph.D. at Iowa State University, an excellent location for studying severe weather!
What He Does:John’s passion is in chaos theory and the predictability of weather. At NSSL, he is designing short-range ensemble forecast systems (collections of slightly different weather forecasts) for the Warn-on-Forecast project. The project aims to provide a probabilistic (risk-based) forecast of high-impact weather such as tornadoes and flash flooding to increase warning lead times in these events. His other research areas include supercell and bow-echo predictability, and the development of a Python package that generates and evaluates ensemble forecasts.
Trivia: John runs a UK private forecasting operation called Bolt Forecast. He also enjoys listening to music, and coaching or watching soccer (or football, as it is known in the UK). He also likes spending time with his dog and coloring (see photo).

Share this:

CI-FLOW total water level system prepared for test by Tropical Storm


Researchers with the Coastal and Inland Flooding Observation and Warning (CI-FLOW; project are preparing for Tropical Storm Hermine to test their total water level system in North Carolina this weekend. The CI-FLOW system captures the complex interaction between rainfall, river flows, waves, tides and storm surge, and how they impact water levels in the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse Rivers and the Pamlico Sound in North Carolina.

CI-FLOW collects data from a computing system that combines radar and rain gauge information to create estimates of rainfall. This information is passed on to water quantity models that simulate freshwater flows from the headwaters of the basins into the rivers; taking into account soil type, slope of the land and vegetation patterns. Finally, water flow data is passed from river models to a coastal circulation and storm surge model that provides simulations of waves, tides and storm surge.

National Weather Service forecasters will have access to CI-FLOW during Tropical Storm Hermine to help them evaluate the system for application in the flood and flash flood warning process.

The CI-FLOW project is motivated by NOAA’s critical forecast need for detailed water level predictions in coastal areas and has a vision to transition CI-FLOW research findings and technologies to other U.S. coastal watersheds.

The NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, with support from the NOAA National Sea Grant Office, collaborates with the unique interdisciplinary team including the North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas Sea Grant Programs, University of Oklahoma, Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Seahorse Coastal Consulting, NWS Forecast Offices in Raleigh and Newport/Morehead City, NWS Southeast River Forecast Center, NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management, NOAA in the Carolinas, NOAA Southeast and Caribbean Regional Team (SECART), NOAA-Integrated Ocean Observing System, Department of Homeland Security Coastal Resilience Center
of Excellence, Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence SouthEast, Coast Survey Development Laboratory and NWS Office of Hydrologic Development.

Share this:

Gab at the Lab: Allen Zahrai

Allen Zahrai, Research Scientist


Background:M.S., Computer Science, University of Oklahoma
M.S., Electrical Engineering, University of Oklahoma
B.S., Electrical Engineering, Minor: Mathematics, University of Oklahoma
Experience:Allen was born in Tehran, Iran, and moved frequently during his early years. He spent some time in Sweden, and believed he would likely settle down in Europe until he came to Washington, D.C. to study at George Washington University. He was then enticed by a friend to transfer to Central State College in Edmond, Oklahoma and, from there, made his way to the University of Oklahoma in Norman. As a child, Allen was fascinated by engineering and could often be found tinkering with objects in his bedroom. He brought the same enthusiasm to his studies, earning both a bachelor’s and Master’s degree in electrical engineering. He came to NSSL as a graduate student, collaborating with Dick Doviak on a digital acoustic profiler project for NASA.
What He Does:Allen has a long history at NSSL, and has been part of the evolution of the Lab’s radar programs. He worked on some of the earliest equipment and helped develop the first dual polarized doppler weather radar. In time, he joined the National Weather Service’s Radar Operations Center, where he worked on WSR-88D deployment issues. Now, he is a radar engineering team leader in the Radar Research and Development Division at NSSL. Allen has been a team member on projects like the WSR-88D dual pol upgrade, and helped build the National Weather Radar Testbed. He has worked on mobile radars, like the dual polarized X-band and the SMART-R dual polarized C-band. Currently, he is helping to test the ten panel demonstrator and build the Advanced Technology Demonstrator, which will allow researchers to test dual polarized phased array radar.
Trivia: Allen enjoys spending time with his family, which includes three children and five grandchildren.He and his wife also have two cats and a dog. In his free time, he likes the outdoors, video games, computers, electronics, motor vehicles, and wood working.

Share this:

NWA Annual Meeting 2016


Monday, September 12

Concurrent Session 3A – Radar
Location: TBD Session Co-Chairs:
Greg Stumpf, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NWS/MDL, Norman, OK
Katie Bowden, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Rapid-Update Radar Data and its Potential Uses Within the Emergency Management Community
Charles M. Kuster, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS, Norman, OK
Pamela L. Heinselman, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK
Jeffrey C. Snyder, University of Oklahoma /CIMMS, Norman, OK
Katie A. Bowden, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
Douglas A. Speheger, NOAA/NWS, Norman, OK

Future Updates for the MRMS QPE Product Suite
Steven M. Martinaitis, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS, Norman, OK
Jian Zhang, Kenneth Howard and Steven Cocks, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK
Karen Cooper, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS, Norman, OK

2015 Phased Array Radio Innovative Sensing Experiment
Pamela L. Heinselman, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK
Katie A. Bowden, Darrell Kingfield, and Charles M. Kuster, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

The 2016 Hazard Services- Probabilistic Hazard Information (HS-PHI) Experiment at the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed
Gregory J. Stumpf, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NWS/MDL, Norman, OK
Tracy L. Hansen, NOAA/ESRL/GSD, Boulder, CO
James G. LaDue, NOAA/NWS/WDTD, Norman, OK
Chen Ling, University of Akron, Akron, OH
Kevin L. Manross, Colorado State University/CIRA and NOAA/ESRL/GSD, Boulder, CO

Overview of Improvements Made to the NSSL Azimuthal Shear Product
Matthew C. Mahalik, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS, Norman, OK
Brandon Smith, Darrel M. Kingfield, Kiel L. Ortega and Travis M. Smith,
University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Tuesday, September 13

Concurrent Session 6B – Communications
Location: TBD Session Co-Chairs:
Laura Myers, University of Alabama
Alan Gerard, NWA Treasurer, NWA Past President, Deputy Chief, Warning Research & Development Division, NSSL, Norman, OK

Identifying Key Characteristics of Severe Weather Communication Strategies for Optimal Emergency Managers’ and Broadcast Meteorologists’ Decision Making
Daphne S. LaDue, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
Gina M. Eosco, Eastern Research Group, Arlington, VA
Susan A. Jasko, California University of Pennsylvania, California, PA
Terri Adams-Fuller and Shadya Sanders, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Kim Klockow, NOAA/OAR, Silver Spring, MD
James Hocker, Oklahoma Climatological Survey, Norman, OK
Chris Karstens, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS, Norman, OK
Lans Rothfusz and Alan Gerard, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK

Wednesday, September 14

Session 7 – Perspectives from Early Career/Young Scientists
Location: Hampton I-V Session Co-Chairs:
Elise Schultz, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Huntsville, AL
Randy Graham, NOAA/NWA Salt Lake City, UT

Forecast Precipitation Type Using Random Forests
Kimberly L. Elmore, University of Oklahoma/NSSL. Norman, OK
Heather M. Grams, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Forecaster Interrogation of Phased Array Radar Data: An Eye-Tracking Experiment
Katie Bowden, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK
Pamela L. Heinselman, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK
Ziho Kang, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Concurrent Session 8A- New Technology
Location: TBD Session Co-Chairs:
Brad Panovich, Adjunct Professor, UNC Charlotte, Chief Meteorologist, WCNC, Charlotte, NC
Chuck Graves, St. Louis University, St. Louis, MO

Understanding EM Information Needs During Severe Weather Events
Sean R. Ernst, University of Oklahoma, Pepperell, MA
Daphne, LaDue, University of Oklahoma/CAPS, Norman, OK
Alan Gerard, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK

Recent Progress and Developments in the Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental
Threats (FACETs) Initiative
Alan Gerard, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK

Prototyping a Next-Generation Severe Weather Warning System for FACETs
Chris D. Karstens, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK
Daphne LaDue University of Oklahoma/CAPS, Norman, OK
James Correia, Jr., University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NWS/SPC, Norman, OK
Kristin Calhoun and Travis Smith, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK

Thursday, September 15

Session 11 – Lightning
Location: Hampton I-V Session Co-Chairs:
Pat Market, NWA Past President, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO
Paul Suffern, National Transportation Safety Board, Washington, DC

Probability of Cloud-to-Ground Lightning in the PHI tool
Tiffany Meyer and Kristin Calhoun, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK
David John Gagne, University of Oklahoma/CAPS, Norman, OK
Christopher Karstens, and Darrel Kingfield , University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK


Session PA (Applied Research and New Techniques)
Monday 3-5PM

A.25 New Verification Techniques for FACETs: Geospatial warning verification system performance on the 2007-15 storm-based tornado warning database
Gregory J. Stumpf, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NWS/MDL, Norman, OK
Brandon R. Smith, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK

A.37 Results from GOES-R and JPSS Proving Ground Demonstrations at the 2016 HWT Spring Experiment
Bill Line, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NWS/SPC, Norman, OK

A.40 The MRMS Aviation Product Suite Expansion Plans
Heather D. Reeves, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK
Brian Entwistle, NOAA/NWS/AWC Kansas City, MO
Kenneth Howard, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK

A.47 Application of a Range-Based Correction to Improve Azimuthal Shear Values at Distance from a WSR-88D Radar
Brandon R. Smith, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS, Norman, OK
Matthew C. Mahalik and Darrel Kingfield University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK
Kiel Ortega, and Travis Smith, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS, Norman, OK

A.55 Improving Surface Rain Rates by Accounting for Evaporation in MRMS Radar-Based QPE
Steven M. Martinaitis, Heather Grams and Youcun Qi, University of Oklahoma/CIMMS and NOAA/NSSL
Kenneth Howard, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK

Session PB (Case Studies)
Tuesday 10AM – Noon

B.69 Color Blindness in the Weather Enterprise: Discussion, and a Look at Solutions
Matt Bolton, Saint Leo University, Saint Leo, FL
Grant Wise, Union University, Jackson, TN
William Blumberg, University of Oklahoma, Norman, OK

Share this:

Gab at the Lab: Bob Rabin

Bob Rabin, Research Scientist


Background:Ph.D.., Meteorology, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, Paris, France
M.S., Meteorology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
B.S., Meteorology, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
Experience:Bob is originally from Evanston, Illinois, near Chicago. He was inspired to pursue a career in meteorology by significant weather events in his early years. During the 1965 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak, Bob watched as developing storms formed overhead, unaware at the time that the Weather Bureau storm survey included recommendations from NSSL detailing a prototype Doppler radar. He was fascinated yet again when a tornado struck Topeka, Kansas, and near home in 1966. And, of course, he was influenced by big snowstorms in Chicago, like the blizzard of 1967. Bob enjoyed following the career of Harry Volkman, the first meteorologist to issue a tornado warning on air. He would eventually earn his own meteorology degrees from McGill University in Montreal. Later, he would travel to Paris, France for his the Universite Pierre et Marie Curie, where his thesis was “Diagnosing changes in temperature/moisture profiles using Doppler radar.”
What He Does:Bob has been with NSSL for many years, and has watched the Lab’s history unfold. He has been a contributor to many scientific studies and research papers. In 1979, Bob was part of the Severe Environmental Storm and Mesoscale Experiment, which sampled Southern Plains storm activity at different scales of motion. Over the next few years, his research focused on uses of Doppler radar to estimate winds in the clear air, and on the effects of landscape variations on convective clouds. In 1989, Bob was detailed at the Space Science and Engineering Center in Madison, Wisconsin, which led to on-going collaboration with scientists at the Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. Today, Bob is working to develop GOES-R and the next generation of NOAA/NASA geo weather satellites. He is also responsible for diversity outreach activities at NSSL, and has mentored students at schools nationwide, including Iḷisaġvik College, a two-year tribal college in Barrow, Alaska. Bob is also enrolled as a student there, studying the Inupiaq language. In February, Bob was selected to receive the 2016 EEO/Diversity Award for Exemplary Service from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research.
Trivia: Bob loves to spend time outdoors in all weather conditions, and enjoys sprinting, biking, hiking, and Nordic skiing. He is also a yoga instructor. During his time in Montreal, he was a hockey goal judge at McConnell Arena, home of McGill hockey. He enjoyed many years of playing basketball with NSSL’s “Hall of Fame” squad at the YMCA, which occasionally included notables such as OU’s J.C. Watts.

Share this:

Gab at the Lab: Katie Bowden

Katie (Bowden) Wilson, Ph.D. Candidate (University of Oklahoma – CIMMS/NSSL)


Background:M.S., Meteorology, University of Oklahoma
MMet., Meteorology, University of Reading
Experience:Katie hails from Royal Wootton Bassett, a town in central England about an hour and a half west of London. She attended the University of Reading and came to the University of Oklahoma on an exchange program during her studies. After spending some time in Oklahoma, she decided she wanted more, and came back to earn her Master’s degree from OU in 2012. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at OU, and has already passed the program’s rigorous General Exam. She expects to complete her Ph.D. by late-2017.
What She Does:Katie works on interdisciplinary experiments to understand the impact of higher-temporal resolution radar data on NWS forecasters’ warning decision processes. She has been a co-lead, along with NSSL’s Pam Heinselman, on the Phased Array Radar Innovative Sensing Experiment. In this displaced real-time simulation, Katie and Pam work with NWS forecasters to test the effects of radar update speed on resultant warning performance and workload. These studies have played a critical role in demonstrating the advantages of rapid-scanning phased array radar over WSR-88D. Katie has also won numerous awards for her studies on Eye-Tracking Technology with CIMMS and NSSL. By studying the movement of forecasters’ eye gaze during the warning decision process, researchers are gaining valuable information that will help develop better tools to guide meteorologists in the future.
Trivia: Katie has two sisters back home in England, including an identical twin! She enjoys staying active and is quite adventurous - she has both skydived and climbed Mount Kilimanjaro! Katie and her husband, Chris, are newlyweds and celebrated their wedding in Chicago this summer.

Share this:

Make plans now to attend Second Annual Research Operations Nexus at NWA Annual Meeting

RON-2016Many members of the NWA fondly recall longtime associate Ron Przybylinski, a luminary in operationally-focused severe weather research for more than a quarter century. When Ron passed away in March 2015, a number of friends and colleagues within our association sought to honor his legacy of research-to- operations integration. The result was the first Research Operations Nexus (RON) Meetup, held at the 2015 NWA Annual Meeting in Oklahoma City in memory of Ron and his work.

The first RON meetup was a special session on Sunday night at the start of the conference, bringing together researchers and operational forecasters in a forum where they could discuss topics of mutual interest. Nearly 70 meteorologists participated in the event, breaking into groups to discuss topics like communicating uncertainty and impacts, flash flooding and heavy precipitation, use of social media in operations, and fire weather support. The sessions were structured to connect challenges being faced by operational forecasters with work being done by the research community, and to start collaborative relationships that might continue in the future.

Given the success of the RON in Oklahoma City, a second meetup has been scheduled for the upcoming 2016 NWA Annual Meeting in Norfolk. This year’s event will be held Sunday, September 11th, from 7 to 9 pm in room Marriott IV of the conference hotel. We hope you can and will make plans to attend. If you have suggestions for topics to be covered or would like more information, please contact Greg Stumpf at

Share this:

Gab at the Lab: Dick Doviak

Dick Doviak, Senior Research Scientist

Dick Doviak

Background:Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, University of Pennsylvania (1963)
M.Sc., University of Pennsylvania (1959)
B.S., Electrical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (BSEE; 1956)
Experience:Richard “Dick” Doviak grew up in New Jersey, and attended the prestigious University of Pennsylvania, where he earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering. He joined NSSL in 1971 and was Chief of the Doppler Radar Project that would eventually lead to NEXRAD. From 1978 and until 1987, he managed the Storm Electricity Research Project responsible for directing scientific studies of lightning detection systems and weather radar. Over the years, he has also served as an editor for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and as an associate editor on several publications of the American Meteorological Society. He is an IEEE fellow and AMS fellow, and has won numerous awards. Dr. Doviak co-authored the book Doppler Radar and Weather Observations with NSSL’s Dusan Zrnic. He is author or co-author of over 130 refereed scientific articles in 21 journals spanning interests in the geosciences, engineering, physics, and meteorology, and authored or co-authored over 200 non refereed articles and reports.
What He Does:Dr. Doviak is a senior scientist with NSSL’s Radar Research and Development Division. He is helping develop Multi-Function Phased Array Radar, a single radar that can replace four other radars (Airport Surveillance Radars, Air Route Surveillance Radars, Terminal Doppler Weather Radars, and National Weather Surveillance Radars). He enjoys teaching and advising students in electrical engineering and the School of Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, and even developed a course on radar meteorology for OU. He also collaborates with Hong Kong Observatory and Lockheed Martin. Dr. Doviak has served as a consultant to a number of companies and been an invited speaker to countries all over the world.
Trivia: Dr. Doviak enjoys swimming, biking, gardening, and spending time with his family.

Share this:

Significant Paper: The HMT Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor Hydro Experiment

The HMT Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor Hydro Experiment
Authors: Steven M. Martinaitis, Jonathan J. Gourley, Zachary L. Flamig, Elizabeth M. Argyle, Robert A. Clark, Ami Arthur, Brandon R. Smith, Jessica M. Erlingis, Sarah Perfater, Benjamin Albright
Journal: Bulletin of the AMS
Publication Date: Early Online Release 7/19/16

This paper describes how NSSL scientists and NWS forecasters evaluate new tools and techniques through real-time testbed operations for the improvement of flash flood detection and warning operations. The HMT-Hydro Experiment assessed the use of MRMS and FLASH products in flash flood operations, the use of the Hazard Services software with flash flood recommenders, and the use of probabilistic information in flash flood watches and warnings. This paper also describes the collaborative effort between the HMT-Hydro Experiment and the Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall (FFaIR) experiment at NWS WPC.

Important Conclusions:
Challenges exist with the prediction and warning of flash flood events, one of the deadliest weather phenomena in the United States. The reports that describe flash floods are inadequate and sparse in relation to other weather-related hazards. The HMT-Hydro Experiment investigates new products and techniques that could assist in flash flood prediction and warning decision making in a real-time environment. Products from the FLASH suite assist in the identification of focused regions for increased flash flood potential; moreover, the CREST maximum unit streamflow demonstrates its ability to highlight the potential for flash flooding in urban areas. The addition of user-defined probabilistic information provides insight on the perceptions and challenges of probabilistic forecasting.

Advances in numerical weather prediction, precipitation estimation, and distributed hydrologic modeling will be beneficial to the quality and accuracy of flash flood forecasts and operational products. More research is needed on the application and reliability of probabilistic forecasts in operational flash flood products. NSSL and the HMT-Hydro Experiment will continue to provide a platform for research scientists, operational forecasters, and hydrologic modelers to collaborate on improving flash flood prediction and to facilitate the evaluation and transition of new products and techniques from research to operations.

HMT Hydro

Diagram of simulated workflow between the HMT-Hydro Experiment and the FFaIR Experiment


Four-panel image of (a) MRMS Q3RAD 2-h accumulation (in.), (b) maximum QPE-to-FFG ration (%), (c) maximum QPE ARI (y), and (d) CREST maximum unit streamflow as displayed in AWIPS-II during a flash flood event in Wichita, Kansas, on July 6, 2015.

Share this: