Multiple-Radar Multiple Sensor system developed at NSSL goes into NWS operations

Screen Shot 2014-10-16 at 9.13.23 AMWeather forecasters rely on an incredibly large amount of information when they make forecasts and issue warnings. A new system, activated by NOAA’s National Weather Service last week, quickly harnesses the tremendous amount of weather data from multiple sources, intelligently integrates the information, and provides a detailed picture of the current weather.

The Multiple Radar Multiple Sensor (MRMS) system combines data streams from multiple radars, satellites, surface observations, upper air observations, lightning reports, rain gauges and numerical weather prediction models to produce a suite of decision-support products every two minutes. Because it provides better depictions of high-impact weather events such as heavy rain, snow, hail, tornadoes, and other threats, forecasters can quickly diagnose severe weather and issue more accurate and earlier forecasts and warnings.

“MRMS uses a holistic approach to merging multiple data sources, allowing forecasters to better analyze data and potentially make better predictions,” said Ken Howard, a research meteorologist at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory who helped design MRMS. “It was developed in collaboration with NOAA’s National Weather Service hydrologists and forecasters who tested experimental versions and provided valuable input and feedback.”

Researchers at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory designed the MRMS system to improve decision making within NOAA and other agencies – marking another NOAA research to operations success. Implementation of the system into NWS operations was funded in part by the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2013.

MRMS will improve the ability of forecasters to issue public warnings and advisories for severe weather such as tornadoes, hail and flash floods, and will help improve forecasts for safety of air traffic.

NSSL’s experimental version of the MRMS system has been available at various National Weather Service offices, but now that it is becoming operational, NOAA researchers plan to continue their collaboration with NOAA partners such as developers, trainers and forecasters to collect best practices and case studies. The system is designed so that new techniques and products can be added, increasing its capabilities.

“The nationally consistent products available from the MRMS are another important step toward NOAA’s goal of building a Weather Ready Nation by providing better analyses and forecasts to a wide range of decision makers,” said Louis Uccellini, Ph.D., director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “This is another tool to help ensure communities are better prepared and more resilient in the face of high-impact weather events.”

MRMS data are also an input into the newly operational High-Resolution Rapid Refresh weather model, which will improve the quality of forecasts and warnings for severe weather events.

NOAA researchers developed the MRMS system in cooperation with The University of Oklahoma’s Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies.

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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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2014 MRMS Severe-Best Practices Experiment

963734_10203486392308346_5749591803935314433_oMonday 7 April 2014 began the first week of the two-week Multiple-Radar/Multiple-Sensor-Severe Best Practices (MRMS-SBPE) experiment in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed at the National Weather Center in Norman, OK.  NSSL’s MRMS system quickly and intelligently integrates data streams from multiple radars, surface and upper air observations, lightning detection systems, and satellite and forecast models.

The MRMS-SBPE is designed to include forecasters in the process of developing training for the Warning Decision Training Branch in how to best use MRMS severe weather products to improve warning decision making.  Through a series of controlled experiments using archive and real-time data, forecasters will also help provide data to prove several hypotheses that MRMS products will provide better warnings for the public.  Operational activities will take place during the week Monday through Friday.

Specific goals for MRMS-SBPE are:

  • Determine which MRMS products are the most useful for warning decision making.
  • Develop optimal AWIPS2 procedures for hail, wind, and tornado warning decision making
  • Determine how MRMS products can be integrated into traditional severe weather diagnosis.
  • Suggest new MRMS products and display ideas.

This collaboration will help aid the NWS Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB) in developing their training and educational materials for the MRMS-Severe weather products, which are planned for release by October 1, 2014.

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