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.

Share this:

Tornado Warning Decisions Using Phased Array Radar Data

Weather and Forecasting: Early Online Release

Tornado Warning Decisions Using Phased Array Radar Data

Authors:  Pamela Heinselman, Daphne LaDue, Darrel M. Kingfield, and Robert Hoffman

The 2012 Phased Array Radar Innovative Sensing Experiment identified how rapidly scanned full-volumetric data captured known mesoscale processes and impacted tornado-warning lead time. Twelve forecasters from nine National Weather Service forecast offices used this rapid-scan phased array radar (PAR) data to issue tornado warnings on two low-end tornadic and two nontornadic supercell cases. Verification of the tornadic cases revealed that forecasters’ use of PAR data provided a median tornado-warning lead time (TLT) of 20 min.  Precursors that triggered forecasters’ decisions to warn occurred within one or two typical WSR-88D scans, indicating PAR’s temporal sampling better matches the time-scale at which these precursors evolve.

Share this:

Tornado project enters second data collection phase

Probes I-70
Mobile Mesonets, also known as probes, travel west on I-70 in Kansas.

The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment  – 2 will begin the second year of data collection on May 1 and run through June 15.  VORTEX2 is the largest tornado research project in history to explore how, when and why tornadoes form.

NOAA and the National Science Foundation are sponsoring more than 100 scientists, students and staff from around the world to collect weather data around and under a supercell thunderstorm.  VORTEX2 teams are using a fleet of 10 mobile radars and 70 other instruments all equipped with cutting edge communication and computer technologies.  Much about tornadoes remains a mystery, and researchers hope this data will help them better understand tornadoes and lead to further improvements in tornado warning skill.

During 2009 operations, the VORTEX2 armada roamed more than 10,000 miles across the southern and central Plains from May 10-June 13.  Data were collected on 11 supercells, including one tornadic supercell.

New for 2010 operations will be the addition of the University of Colorado Tempest Unmanned Aerial System – model airplanes designed to fly underneath the storm to collect data.  Also, three more mobile radars now have dual-polarization capabilities and the radar scouts and mobile mesonets have been redesigned to make operations more efficient.

VORTEX2 2010 operations can be followed on Facebook, Twitter, and through a blog called V2Talk. More information is available on the web: http://www.nssl.noaa.gov/vortex2.

A special correspondent for kids has joined the VORTEX2 team for 2010.  His name is Chase StormDawg, and he can be followed on Twitter and Facebook too!

Share this:

BAMS publishes two NSSL articles

The Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society published two articles by NSSL in the October, 2009 issue.

“Convective-scale Warn-On-Forecast System:  A Vision for 2020” calls on the research community to develop warning methods in which numerical model forecasts play a much larger role.  Current convective-scale hazard warnings are based on observation.  A Warn-on-Forecast system would provide longer lead times through an additional layer of warning information containing probabilistic hazard information.  Increasing severe thunderstorm, flash flood, and tornado warning lead times is a key NOAA strategic mission goal designed to reduce the loss of life, injury, and economic costs of high-impact weather by providing more trusted weather and water information in support of organized public mitigation activities.  The authors of the article are NSSL’s Dave Stensrud, Lou Wicker, Kevin Kelleher, along with Ming Xue (Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms), Mike Foster (NOAA NWSFO Norman, Okla.), Joe Schaefer and Russ Schneider (NOAA Storm Prediction Center), Stan Benjamin and Steve Weygandt (NOAA ESRL), John Ferree (NOAA NWS Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services), and Jason Tuell (NOAA NWS Office of Science and Technology Policy).

A largely student run project is described in the article “Severe Hazards Analysis and Verification Experiment “ (SHAVE).  A project scientist and operations coordinator guide daily activities, with students making phone calls to the public affected by severe thunderstorms.  Their job is to collect information on hail sizes, wind damage and flash flooding.   The public reports are then blended with high-resolution radar data and geographic information from Google Earth to create a diverse dataset on all types of storms.  This information will be used to improve decision-making tools used by the NWS in the forecast and warning process, and pave the way for improvements to the historical severe storms database.  SHAVE is expected to continue beyond 2009, with a possible expansion into winter weather verification.  The authors are NSSL/Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorology Studies Kiel Ortega, Travis Smith, Kevin Manross, and Angelyn Kolodziej, Kevin Scharfenberg (NWS Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services), and Arthur Witt and J.J. Gourley (NOAA NSSL).

Website:  http://ewp.nssl.noaa.gov/projects/shave/

Share this:

NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed 2009 Spring Experiment

Each year dozens of visiting scientists, model developers, faculty members and graduate students from around the world gather for the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Experiment.  This is the ninth year of the program designed by National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL), the Storm Prediction Center and the National Weather Service to foster improved severe weather forecasts and warnings.

The Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) currently has two branches, the Experimental Forecasting Program (EFP) and the Experimental Warning Program (EWP).  During Spring Experiment operations each functions on a slightly different schedule with different but complementary roles and goals

The EFP Spring Experiment will run from May 4 through June 5, and will focus on using convection-allowing model forecasts as guidance for the prediction of severe convective weather.

The experimental models will be generated by a number of collaborators including the University of Oklahoma’s Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (OU-CAPS), the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction Environmental Modeling Center (NCEP/EMC), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), NSSL, the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), and the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory Global System Division (ESRL/GSD).  Participants will assess strengths and weaknesses of the models using various verification approaches, including new methods being developed at the cooperative Developmental Testbed Center.  Furthermore, they will explore new data assimilation strategies and their potential impact on forecasting.  Unique to this year will be the synergy with a project to study tornadoes, VORTEX2 and the new GOES-R Proving Ground project both located in the National Weather Center.

The EWP Spring Experiment is focusing on shorter-term convective weather warning needs of forecasters and will run for six weeks:  April 27- May 22, and June 1-12.  The EWP will test and evaluate emerging technologies and science for WFO severe convective weather warning operations in Weather Forecast Offices (WFO).  There will be four projects geared toward WFO warning decision-making applications:

  • An evaluation of experimental multiple-radar/sensor gridded severe weather algorithm products using the NSSL Warning Decision Support System II (WDSSII);
  • An evaluation of the 3D Lightning Mapping Arrays (LMA) in Central Oklahoma, Northern Alabama, the Washington D.C. Metro Area, and possibly East-Central Florida;
  • An evaluation of networked 3-cm radars (CASA) in Central Oklahoma;
  • An evaluation of the phased array radar (PAR) in Norman, Okla.
Share this:

Improved severe weather warnings targeted

The NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) Experimental Warning Program (EWP) is conducted its 2009 Spring Experiment at the National Weather Center (NWC) in Norman, Oklahoma for six weeks this past Spring.  The testbed is a joint project of the National Weather Service (NWS) and the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and provides a conceptual framework as well as a physical space to foster collaboration between research and operations to test and evaluate emerging technologies and science for WFO severe convective weather warning operations.

Four primary projects were geared toward National Weather Service Forecast Office warning decision-making applications:

  • An evaluation of experimental multiple-radar/sensor gridded severe weather algorithm products using the NSSL Warning Decision Support System II (WDSSII);
  • An evaluation of the 3D Lightning Mapping Arrays (LMA) in Central Oklahoma, Northern Alabama, the DC Metro Area, and possibly East-Central Florida;
  • An evaluation of networked 3-cm radars (CASA) in Central Oklahoma;
  • An evaluation the phased array radar (PAR) in Norman, Oklahoma.

The participants were active in the LMA, CASA, and PAR experiments when severe weather was affecting those domains.  The WDSSII multi-radar/sensor algorithm experiment was less dependent on local weather since researchers can access the needed radar and other data sets remotely for nearly anywhere in the United States.

For each experiment, two to four forecasters per week from the NWS and other institutions evaluated the accuracy and operational utility of each new technology for severe weather decision-making through real time warning situations and structured experiments with archived data.  They worked afternoon/evening shifts (M-Th), beginning with a daily coordination briefing, orientation training on Mondays, and a mixture of archived event playback analysis and intensive operations periods (IOP’s) using live data.  During data evaluation, the forecasters worked with scientists in charge of each application to provide feedback.  On Fridays, researchers conducted a two-hour end-of-week debriefing, followed by short forecaster seminars.  The EWP blog contained the daily outlook, the daily and weekly summaries, and live updates during real-time events.  For more information about the EWP, see: http://ewp.nssl.noaa.gov/.

Share this: