Gab at the Lab: Mike Coniglio

Mike Coniglio, Research Scientist

Mike Coniglio

Background:B.S. Meteorology, SUNY-Oswego
M.S., Ph.D. Meteorology, University of Oklahoma
Experience:Mike grew up in Buffalo, New York, where he got a lot of experience with lake-effect snowfall! He earned his bachelor’s degree in meteorology from the State University of New York - Oswego, before making his way to Oklahoma for his M.S. and Ph.D. programs. Mike joined OU CIMMS in 2006, then transitioned to a Federal position in 2008. He has been working with NSSL in various roles since 1998.
What He Does:Mike is part of the FRDD team here at NSSL. He has worked extensively in the field and has also helped develop numerical forecast models. He primarily studies thunderstorms, particularly those which are heavy wind producers, or derechos. He took part in the PECAN field experiment this summer, studying the nighttime development of these storms and the conditions that support them. Mike also takes an active role in collaboration with the Storm Prediction Center. Last year, he began working forecast shifts at SPC, and he is currently working on researching ways to improve short-term forecasts of severe weather.
Trivia: Mike and his wife have a 4-year-old daughter, and when he isn’t chasing storms, he enjoys honing his photography skills, birding, and catching up on the latest HGTV shows.
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Forecasters to evaluate sets of advanced weather models that can depict thunderstorms

13985530779_b86a7f9932_kExperiments designed to improve National Weather Service severe weather forecasts will be conducted in the 2015 Spring Forecasting Experiment from May 4 through June 5, part of the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) Experimental Forecast Program. The effort is a joint project between the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and NSSL/CIMMS to support NOAA’s goal to evolve the National Weather Service and build a Weather-Ready Nation. The interactions between operational forecasters, model developers, and research scientists are critical for the effective transfer of operationally relevant guidance, tools, and techniques to operational forecasters.

Forecast teams will work with a number of sets of advanced weather computer models, called ensembles, that can depict thunderstorms (4km grid or less) to create experimental severe weather hazard outlooks valid over shorter periods (1-hr and 4-hr periods) than current SPC operational products. The outlooks will define the probability of a hazard occurring, the confidence in its path, and adjust to trends in the threat level based on new observations. These activities are foundational to the emerging FACETs vision and designed to link with initial Warn on Forecast activities conducted by the Experimental Warning Program. In addition, the predictability of severe weather hazards into Days 2 and 3 will be explored using these ultra-high-resolution forecast systems.

The HWT experiments support the NOAA mission of Science, Service, and Stewardship, in addition to providing information that will help communities be more resilient. HWT research will improve the nation’s forecasting and numerical weather prediction capabilities through collaborative efforts between the academic community and NSSL. The effort is highly relevant to NOAA’s goal to evolve the National Weather Service.

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Scientists re-visit the Tri-State Tornado

desotorbThe March 18, 1925 Tri-State Tornado was unusually severe, killing 695 people while it was on the ground for a record 219 miles crossing parts of Missouri, Illinois and Indiana. Unfortunately, there is only one formal paper regarding the tornado and its meteorological setting.

A team of eight severe storms meteorologists re-analyzed the event using all relevant U.S. Weather Bureau data on the Tri-State Tornado.  The results, published in the Electronic Journal of Severe Storms Meteorology, revealed previous analyses of the surface weather conditions were inaccurate and led to misconceptions about where the tornado formed in reference to the existing weather system.  The authors include retired NSSL Director Bob Maddox, retired NSSL/CIMMS researchers Chuck Doswell, Don Burgess and Charlie Crisp, retired Storm Prediction Center (SPC) meteorologist Bob Johns and current SPC meteorologist John Hart, and Steve Piltz from the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Tulsa, Okla.

The researchers concluded there was no singular feature in the meteorological setting that would explain the extreme character of the Tri-State tornado.  The storms of 18 March were associated with a rapidly moving cyclone that was not unusually intense.  The new analyses show a long-lived supercell that developed very near the center of the cyclone produced the tornado, possibly where a warm front and a distinct dryline intersected.  The south-to-north temperature gradient was very pronounced due to cooling produced by early morning storms and precipitation.  The tornadic supercell tracked at an average speed of 59mph moving farther away from the cyclone center with time.  And, the storm remained very close to the surface warm front.

Researchers did find as the supercell and dryline moved rapidly eastward, the northward advance of the warm front kept the tornadic supercell within a very favorable storm environment for several hours.  It appears this consistent time and space connection of the supercell, warm front, and dryline was extremely unusual.

With reanalysis beginning 70 years after the tornado, it was impossible to confirm the complete continuity of the damage path along the reported path.  Even with extensive field work discovering 2,395 individual damage points, there were 32 gaps of at least one mile in length, but only 7 gaps longer than 2.5 miles in length.  All of the longer gaps were in the Missouri portion of the path; within the sparsely-populated Ozark mountain area.  Assuming that gaps shorter than 2.5 miles might still represent a continuous tornado, the continuous path was at least 174 miles long.  Additional, previously unreported tornadoes were also found before the beginning and after the end of the Tri-State Tornado.  The research also allowed for conclusion that the storm was a supercell; classic in its stages and high-precipitation in the later stages.  The supercell also produced accompanying hail up to baseball size and non-tornadic damaging winds.

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Summer Thunder 2011 hosted by NSSL

NWC lightning
Lightning over the National Weather Center

NSSL co-hosted the Southern Thunder 2011 Workshop at the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla. last week along with the NOAA Storm Prediction Center and the University of Oklahoma.

Southern Thunder 2011 was the fourth in a series of workshops driven by increasing opportunities in the U.S. to detect all types of lightning activity with ground-based systems.  The first workshop was in 2004.

Southern Thunder workshops bring together lightning data providers, product producers, and decision-making consumers in government, academia, and industry to advance lightning science and prediction.  More than 50 leading lightning scientists, operational forecasters and program managers from around the world participated in the workshop.

During the workshop, participants made plans to test a promising technique for identifying jumps in lightning flash rates to improve severe weather warnings.  They also outlined next steps towards producing model forecasts of total lightning activity and provided guidance for those developing web-based modules to train forecasters in the use of lightning data.  Furthermore, they defined issues to be addressed by scientists developing platforms for the NWS that will combine lightning data with other types of data to improve the ability of forecasters to warn of severe weather.

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NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Experiments – 2010

HWTNOAA’s Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) is a facility jointly managed by the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the Storm Prediction Center, and the NWS Oklahoma City/Norman Weather Forecast Office at the National Weather Center in Norman, Okla.  The cornerstone of the testbed is the annual NOAA HWT Spring Experiment that attracts 50-60 researchers and forecasters to Norman each year. Forecasters are provided with a first-hand look at the latest research concepts and products, while research scientists are immersed in the challenges and needs of front-line forecasters. The close collaboration between research scientists and operational weather forecasters advances forecasts and warnings for hazardous weather events throughout the United States.

The 2010 HWT Spring Experiment projects are scheduled from April 12 through June 18, 2010.  The Experimental Warning Program, part of the HWT will be the focus this year.

Participants from the National Weather Service and other organizations will evaluate the operational utility of phased array radar technology, a dense radar network, experimental applications intended for GOES-R satellite, and multiple-radar/multiple sensor severe weather algorithms.  All will work in real-time warning situations or with archived cases.

Feedback from the evaluations leads to further research and refinement of applications to be ultimately included in future operational systems that help guide and manage the severe weather warning decision-making process.

Background: Collaboration between NSSL and the local operational forecasting community dates back to the 1980s.  After the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) moved its operations to the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) facility in 1997, the mutual interests of forecasters from the SPC, researchers from NSSL, and collocated joint research partners from the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) inspired the formation of the current NOAA HWT. The testbed’s activities have been varied, ranging from daily map discussions involving imminent severe weather to loosely-related research projects involving 2-3 collaborators to periodic intensive collaboration periods.

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NSSL launches severe weather blog following deadly winter tornadoes

NSSL research meteorologist Harold Brooks and Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) Greg Carbin made the first posts on the new U.S. Severe Weather Blog on the NOAA Weather Partners homepage yesterday.  The collaborative blog was created to facilitate communication about the impacts of selected severe weather events, particularly tornadoes, in the United States.

Deadly tornadoes tore through Oklahoma on Tuesday, February 10 killing eight people in the southern part of the state.  The winter severe weather occurred on the heels of the anniversary of the 2008 winter tornado outbreak, sparking questions from the media and the public.  NSSL and the SPC were able to comment through the new U.S. Severe Weather Blog launched the following day.

In a test before the official launch, Carbin posted a “Severe Storm Update” late Tuesday morning indicating the potential for severe weather later in the day.  “All indications are that this system will induce severe thunderstorm development later this afternoon across parts of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arkansas.  The SPC has expanded the higher severe weather probabilities across parts of these areas,” he wrote.

Brooks followed with a comment late Tuesday addressing a common question regarding the rarity of winter tornadoes.  His answer was, “On the afternoon of 10 February, at least one tornado touched down in northwest Oklahoma City and western Edmond, Oklahoma.  A question of interest was how rare this event was.  The question revolves around two issues-the time of year and how far west the tornado occurred.  Tornadoes as far west or farther west than the Oklahoma City-Edmond tornado have occurred rarely in January or February since 1950,” Brooks concluded.

Tornado events traditionally bring many media inquiries to NSSL and the NOAA Weather Partners, which includes NSSL, the National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office, and SPC.  “We hope the U.S. Severe Weather Blog will allow us to share the information we have been able to gather about an event more efficiently to better serve the public,” said Brooks.  “This blog is not intended to provide critical weather information, or discussions of our broad range of severe weather research topics,” Brooks added.  Visitors are encouraged to view the local websites of the NWS, SPC, NSSL, or the Norman NOAA Weather Partners for other types of information.

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