Hydrometeorological Testbed 2015

During the week of July 20-24, six forecasters from NWS offices nationwide joined NSSL and CIMMS researchers for the final week of the Hydrometeorological Testbed. This project was supported by JJ Gourley, Steve Martinaitis, Race Clark and Zac Flamig.

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During the week, the forecasters issued experimental watches and warnings for hydrologic extremes in real-time, with the objective of improving flash flood guidance. This project leveraged opportunities for collaboration with two other NSSL research programs, the Severe Hazards Analysis and Verification Experiment (SHAVE) and the Meteorological Phenomenon Identification Near the Ground (mPING).

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The purpose of the HMT was to evaluate the skills of the NSSL-designed FLASH suite of products in flash flood forecasting and, ultimately, to enhance understanding of short-term flash flood forecasting challenges. The meteorologists shared their findings in a “Tales from the Testbed” teleconference held at the end of the week, highlighting the difficulties and successes they encountered when applying FLASH products in various weather scenarios. Notably, they found that it is beneficial to have soil moisture products available when considering flash flood watch and warning issuance. Overall, they determined the new FLASH products to be an improvement in operational capabilities that will lead to more accurate and timely decision-making.

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NSSL researchers lead project to evaluate experimental flash flood products

DSC_0052During July, NOAA National Weather Service forecasters from forecast offices and river forecast centers will assess emerging hydrometeorological concepts and products in the Multi-Radar / Multi-Sensor (MRMS) Hydro Experiment 2015. Their goal is to improve the accuracy, timing, and specificity of flash flood watches and warnings.

MRMS-Hydro is led by NSSL and is part of the 2015 United States Weather Research Program (USWRP) Hydrometeorological Testbed (HMT). Operational activities will take place Monday through Friday for three weeks (July 6 to 24).

During the experiment, participating forecasters will evaluate short-term predictive tools derived from MRMS quantitative precipitation estimates (QPE) and Flooded Locations and Simulated Hydrographs (FLASH) hydrologic modeling framework. Forecasters will also explore the utility of experimental watch and warning products conveying uncertainty and magnitude issued through the Hazard Services software from the Earth Systems Research Lab/Global Systems Division (GSD). Research scientists will investigate human factors to determine operationally relevant best practices for the warning decision making process and the system usability of the Hazard Services platform.

HMT-Hydro will coordinate operations with the third annual Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall experiment (FFaIR) at the NOAA/NWS Weather Prediction Center (WPC) to simulate the collaboration that occurs between the National Weather Service’s national centers, river forecast centers, and local forecast offices during flash flood events.

HMT-Hydro and FFaIR will simulate the real-time workflow from WPC 6-24 hour forecast and guidance products to experimental flash flood watches and warnings issued in the 0-6 hour period. The HMT-hydro team will shift its area of responsibility on a daily basis to where heavy precipitation events and associated flash flooding is anticipated.

Researchers will collect feedback from NWS operational forecasters through comments during their shifts, electronic surveys, de-briefings, and a webinar at the end of each week. NWS feedback is critical for future development and eventual implementation of new applications, displays, and product concepts into AWIPS2 and other operational systems.
HMT-Hydro 2015 provides a real-time environment to rapidly test the latest observational and modeling capabilities so they may be improved and optimized for transition to operational decision-making in the National Weather Service to support a Weather-Ready Nation.

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NSSL researchers lead project to evaluate experimental flash flood products

Flooded roads in Oklahoma
Flooded roads in Oklahoma

A research team from NSSL is leading the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed – Hydro 2014 (HWT-hydro) project from July 7 – Aug. 1 to evaluate and improve experimental products used by the NOAA National Weather Service to issue flash flood watches and warnings.  Participants include NOAA scientists, technology developers, and operational forecasters.

HWT-hydro will coordinate operations with the 2nd annual Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall experiment (FFaIR) at the NOAA/NWS Weather Prediction Center (WPC) to simulate the collaboration that occurs between the National Weather Service’s national centers, river forecast centers, and local forecast offices during flash flood events.

HWT-hydro and FFaIR will simulate the real-time workflow from WPC 6-24 hour forecast and guidance products to experimental flash flood watches and warnings issued in the 0-6 hour period. The HWT-hydro team will shift its area of responsibility on a daily basis to where heavy precipitation events and associated flash flooding is anticipated.

The specific goals of HWT-hydro 2014 are:

    – Evaluate the operational utility of experimental observations of flash flooding from local storm reports, mPING (meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground) citizen scientist reports, Severe Hazards Analysis and Verification Experiment (SHAVE) targeted observations from the public, and USGS streamflow observations for product validation

    – Evaluate the relative skill of experimental flash flood monitoring and short-term prediction tools from NSSL’s Multiple Radar – Multiple Sensor (MRMS) system, and Flooded Locations And Simulated Hydrographs (FLASH) modeling network

    – Determine the benefit of increasing lead time (vs. potential loss in spatial accuracy and magnitude) through the use of the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) 0-6 hr precip forecasts as input to FLASH

    – Explore the utility of experimental flash flood watches and warnings that communicate the probability of occurrence and the magnitude of the event

    – Employ human factors research methods to determine “best practices” for using flash flood prediction tools in experimental watches/warning and optimizing their displays in AWIPS2

    – Enhance collaboration across testbeds, and between the operational forecasting, research, and academic communities on the forecast challenges associated with short-term flash flood forecasting.

Researchers will collect feedback from NWS operational forecasters through comments during their shifts, live blogging, electronic surveys, and de-briefings. NWS feedback is critical for future development and eventual implementation of new applications, displays, and product concepts into AWIPS2 and other operational systems.
HWT-hydro 2014 provides a real-time environment to rapidly test the latest observational and modeling capabilities so they may be improved and optimized for transition to operational decision-making in the National Weather Service.

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NSSL/CIMMS researchers to present at AMS annual meeting

AMSlogo-compact-final.ashxNSSL and CIMMS staff are preparing to receive honors and present recent research at the 2014 American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting in Atlanta, Ga., February 1-6.

NSSL’s Doug Forsyth, retired Chief of the Radar Research and Development Division, has been elected an AMS Fellow and will be honored at the meeting.

Presentations and poster topics include the first real-data demonstration of the potential impact from an MPAR observing capability for storm-scale numerical weather prediction, using cloud top temperatures in numerical weather prediction models to forecast when thunderstorms will form, and crowdsourcing public observations of weather.  Real-time flash flood modeling, understanding forecasters’ needs to improve radar observations using adaptive scanning, and aircraft detection and tracking on the National Weather Radar Testbed Phased Array Radar will also be presented.

Preliminary analyses of research data collected during the 2013 May tornado outbreaks in Oklahoma will be a special focus at the meeting.

NSSL staff will also serve as session chairs.

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FLOCAST: Flood Observations – Citizens As Scientists using Technology project

mPING mPING floodNSSL, CIMMS and University of Oklahoma researchers have launched a new project to collect public observations of flooding that will help improve flash-flood prediction and warning tools in the US.

The Flood Observations – Citizens As Scientists using Technology project (FLOCAST) will first use crowdsourced data about flooding and its severity collected through the already successful mPING (meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground) app available on smart phones. Crowdsourced reports have the potential to provide a large and independent database flood events at fine spatial resolution.

The FLOCAST team will then target the local emergency management community, who tend to provide the most accurate and detailed reports of flooding, and ask them to respond to a 5-minute web-based questionnaire. As time permits, participants will provide details of the timing and location of flash flooding impacts in their areas of responsibility shortly following the event. They will also be able to submit a photo documenting the flooding event.

This same group of expert witnesses will be asked to identify victims, those directly impacted by the flooding, to volunteer their participation in a telephone interview. Researchers will use the information to better understand how society perceives, behaves and responds during flash-flood events, and improve the design, utility, and communication of information about impending flash floods to reduce loss of life.

 

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NSSL researchers join large, international flash flood project in Europe

10-year project expected to reveal important findings beneficial to the United States

NOAA, NASA and the University of Connecticut are representing the United States in the Hydrological Cycle in the Mediterranean Experiment (HyMeX), the largest weather field research project in European history.

HyMex is a 10-year international effort to better understand, quantify and model the hydrologic cycle in support of improved forecasts and warnings of flash floods in the Mediterranean region.

The project targets central Italy, southern France, the Balearic Islands, Corsica and northern Italy — all areas particularly susceptible to devastating flash flood events. Improved understanding of the land, atmosphere and ocean interactions that contribute to flash flooding in this part of the world will advance the state of the science that will ultimately be represented in forecast models with application in the United States.

NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) researchers will operate a mobile radar, NOAA – XPol (NOXP), in southeast France from Sept. 10 to Nov. 10. This is the first of several special observation periods during the HyMeX 10-year timeframe. Additionally, NOAA’s Satellite and Information Service is sponsoring scientists from New Mexico Tech to operate and evaluate a Lightning Mapping Array during HyMeX to support product development and validation for the future Geostationary Lightning Mapper on NOAA’s GOES-R satellite, which is scheduled to launch in late 2015.

The radar will provide high-resolution data and low altitude scans to help determine the size of the raindrops, the intensity of rainfall, and rainfall rates to help predict flash flooding conditions in the Cévennes Vivarais region of France.

During autumn, onshore moisture from the Mediterranean Sea encounters the 5,000-feet high Cévennes Mountains in southeast France making numerous towns and villages particularly subject to severe flash flood events.

Over the next three months, NSSL researcher will operate the NOAA-XPol mobile radar in southeast France as part of the HyMeX experiment, the largest weather field research project in European history.

“Data collected in the air, at sea and on land will shed light on how catastrophic flash-flooding events begin, which may help local officials better prepare for and respond to these types of emergencies,” said Jonathan Gourley, Ph.D., an NSSL research hydrologist.

Other sensors include three instrumented research aircraft, three research ships, buoys, ocean sensors, additional mobile precipitation radars, cloud radars and microradars, hundreds of rain gauges, ten disdrometers (to measure size and speed of individual raindrops), a dozen lidars, sonar, instrumented balloons, wind profilers, and a lightning mapping array.

NSSL’s participation in HyMeX is sponsored by MétéoFrance, and operations are coordinated with the Cévennes-Vivarais Mediterranean Hydro-Meteorological Observatory, The University of Grenoble, NASA, University of Connecticut and Cemagraf.

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CI-FLOW launches Facebook and Twitter pages

The Coastal and Inland FLooding Observation and Warning project has launched a Facebook page and a Twitter site in an effort to make CI-FLOW research more visible to stakeholders and the public.

The Coastal and Inland-Flooding Observation and Warning (CI-FLOW) project is a prototype system combining observations, weather and water models and decision support tools to help bridge the gap and predict total water levels in coastal areas. When the demonstration is complete, everyone from emergency management officials to coastal residents will be able to use CI-FLOW to make informed decisions.

Coastal areas are especially vulnerable to flooding from hurricanes, tropical storms and other hazardous weather. The effects of this extra water on waves, tides, river flows and storm surge have been unpredictable, until now.

The CI-FLOW project has brought together a diverse team of national,  regional, state and university partners to improve the quality of  flood and surge information from every angle.

CI-FLOW currently focuses on the Tar-Pamlico and Neuse River basins of North Carolina and the adjacent coastal waters and shorelines of the Pamlico Sound and Atlantic Ocean. Storm-surge and coastal flooding from Hurricanes Floyd and Dennis devastated this region in 1999. A broad spectrum of local, state, regional, academic and federal partners are working together on CI-FLOW to improve total water level forecasts in this area.

Over half our nation’s population now lives permanently in coastal zones. Research projects like CI-FLOW will make great strides towards increasing warning times and improving predictions to save lives and limit property damage.

Follow our research at CI-FLOW Facebook or CI_FLOW Twitter!

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NSSL’s mobile radar collects data on summer storms in the Colorado mountains

Mobile radars can be useful by providing additional precipitation information in areas where local radar beams are blocked by the terrain.
Mobile radars can be useful by providing additional precipitation information in areas where local radar beams are blocked by the terrain.

A team of NSSL scientists operated NOAA NSSL’s mobile X-band dual-polarized radar (NO-XP) in Colorado through September 20 to collect data and analyze storm characteristics in the Gunnison river basin.  The National Weather Service radar servicing the Gunnison area is located in Grand Junction, CO at 9991 feet, with 12,000 foot mountain peaks causing beam blockage at lower elevations to the southeast around the Gunnison area.  The high-resolution data sets will be used to explore ways to enhance capabilities at the Grand Junction National Weather Service Forecast Office.

The dual-polarization capabilities of the radar examined the microphysical characteristics of high-elevation thunderstorms.  Data will provide insight into the variations of storm characteristics for different terrain profiles.

Along with the radar, NCAR, USGS and the University of Colorado donated ten tipping bucket rain gauges to be deployed along the eastern side of the West Elk Mountains to help calibrate the radar data.  The tipping bucket gauge measurements will be complemented by existing Remote Automated Weather Station observations and 24h rain totals from the Community Collaborative Rain, Hail and Snow network (CoCoRaHS) gauges.

The project was sponsored by the Colorado Water Conservation Board.

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SHAVE: Experiment collects severe weather data through phone calls

Submitting a severe weather report to a local National Weather Service Forecast Office is voluntary.  These reports are archived and used for research, but are often incomplete. To fill in the missing pieces, students working for the National Severe Storms Laboratory are spending their summers making phone calls to the public affected by severe thunderstorms. Their job is to collect information on hail sizes, wind damage and flash flooding as part of the Severe Hazards Analysis and Verification Experiment (SHAVE).

NSSL/CIMMS scientists coordinating SHAVE target all types of storms to collect a diverse dataset.  The SHAVE project blends public reports with high-resolution radar data from NSSL’s Warning Decision Support System – Integrated Information and geographic information from Google Earth.  Their goal is to improve decision-making tools used by the NWS in the forecast and warning process. The collected data will also pave the way for improvements to the historical severe storms database.

The SHAVE database is also available in real-time to the NWS offices to augment their own storm spotter networks.  A NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist commented about SHAVE’s impact in his office:  “The SHAVE project inspired some of us to utilize Google Earth in operations in real time to try and get real time reports, as well as a sense of the intensity of storms as they are happening.  As a result…severe thunderstorm warning [accuracy] increased from 49% to 60%”

SHAVE is part of the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed – Experimental Warning Program, and runs from mid-May through mid-August every year. This is the fourth year of operations.

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