Eye to eye with Irene

MM Hurricane Irene
NSSL's Mobile Mesonet is prepared to take weather measurements of Hurricane Irene as it makes landfall.

NOAA and University of Oklahoma researchers are in North Carolina to deploy two mobile radars and a state-of-the-art instrumented vehicle to intercept Hurricane Irene. They are joining research teams from across the United States to collect an unprecedented hurricane dataset to better understand these devastating storms and protect lives and property. The team includes researchers from the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, the University of  Oklahoma (OU), and the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies at OU.

Hurricanes are notorious producers of torrential rain. This combined with fierce winds, driving water and waves onshore, can cause devastating flooding even many miles inland.

Scientists will use the unique dataset from this storm to help improve techniques for estimating rainfall in extreme weather events, which will increase the accuracy of flood and flash flood forecasts and warnings. Researchers also want to understand severe turbulence and wind bursts in the hurricane near the ground to help set building code guidelines in hurricane prone areas.

Both mobile radars from the University of Oklahoma are equipped with dual-polarization technology that provides more accurate estimates of precipitation type and amount. This will be the first hurricane for the National Science Foundation-funded Rapid Scan X-band dual polarized radar (RaXPOL), which is sensitive enough to detect cloud particles. The storm intercept Shared Mobile Atmospheric Research and Teaching radar (SMART-R 2) uses a different frequency and detects precipitation.

Data from one of the mobile radars will be available online for public real-time viewing while it is gathering data: http://smartr.metr.ou.edu/smartr2/img.

Researchers plan to compare mobile radar data with the NOAA National Weather Service NEXRAD radar in Newport/Morehead City, N.C., recently upgraded with dual-polarization technology. It will be the first time three radars transmitting at three different frequencies will be operating simultaneously to scan a land-falling hurricane. Since each radar reveals different features of the storm, researchers will be looking for new clues in the rainfall characteristics of hurricanes.

In addition, a number of new weather instruments fixed to a vehicle will be tested during the deployment. Other teams will deploy a variety of sensitive weather instruments to measure clouds, size and speed of raindrops, infrared radiation, static electricity, turbulence, and wave surges.

For their own safety, the NOAA/University of Oklahoma team will choose a site designed to withstand Category-5 hurricane storm surge and will anchor their vehicles.

A SMART-R radar intercepted Tropical Storm Gabrielle in 2001, Hurricane Lilli in 2002, Hurricane Isabel in 2003 and Hurricane Frances in 2005. A mobile radar was also deployed during Hurricane Ike in 2008 and made the first dual-polarized scans of a hurricane eyewall.

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NSSL’s Rotation Tracks image of the tornado outbreak gets some appreciation!

Dr. L with rotation tracks image
NWSFO Birmingham, AL staff and NOAA’s Dr. Lubchenco, and U.S. Congressman Spence Baukus gather around NSSL’s rotation tracks image that was used to plan damage surveys.

NSSL has released this image documenting the rotation tracks of the devastating tornadoes on April 27-28. Bright reds and yellows show more intense circulations.

A closer view of the image can be found here:  https://inside.nssl.noaa.gov/nsslnews/2011/04/nssl-product-captures-rotation-tracks-of-april-27-tornado-outbreak/

The image was produced by the On Demand Severe Weather Verification System, part of NSSL’s Warning Decision Support System – Integrated Information (WDSS-II) Multi-Radar/Multi Sensor platform.  On Demand is a web-based tool that can be used to help confirm when and where severe weather occurred.

The platform is being used by several local American Red Cross chapters, emergency managers and National Weather Service Forecast Offices for disaster assessment and response.

The WDSS-II system receives data in real-time from the nationwide networks of weather radars, satellites, surface observations and lightning detectors. WDSS-II then processes, analyzes and displays the data in a way that is useful to people who need to diagnose severe weather quickly.

On Demand uses data gathered and sorted by WDSS-II to estimate the tracks of rotating storms and where hail fell.  The rotation tracks or hail swath data can be overlaid on high-resolution street maps in Google Earth/Maps to pinpoint areas affected by the hazardous weather.

To download the file to overlay on Google Earth, go to:  http://ondemand.nssl.noaa.gov/RotationTrack1440min_20110428-085936.kmz

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NSSL product captures rotation tracks of April 27 tornado outbreak

An NSSL product captures rotation tracks during the April 27-28 tornado outbreak

NSSL has released an image documenting the rotation tracks of the devastating tornadoes on April 27-28. Bright reds and yellows show more intense circulations.

The image was produced by the On Demand Severe Weather Verification System, part of NSSL’s Warning Decision Support System – Integrated Information (WDSS-II) Multi-Radar/Multi Sensor platform.  On Demand is a web-based tool that can be used to help confirm when and where severe weather occurred.

The platform is being used by several local American Red Cross chapters, emergency managers and National Weather Service Forecast Offices for disaster assessment and response.

The WDSS-II system receives data in real-time from the nationwide networks of weather radars, satellites, surface observations and lightning detectors. WDSS-II then processes, analyzes and displays the data in a way that is useful to people who need to diagnose severe weather quickly.

On Demand uses data gathered and sorted by WDSS-II to estimate the tracks of rotating storms and where hail fell.  The rotation tracks or hail swath data can be overlaid on high-resolution street maps in Google Earth/Maps to pinpoint areas affected by the hazardous weather.

To download the file to overlay on Google Earth, go to:  http://ondemand.nssl.noaa.gov/RotationTrack1440min_20110428-085936.kmz

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NSSL hosted successful booth at WeatherFest

NSSL WeatherFest booth
NSSL has a busy boot h at the 2011 WeatherFest in Seattle, WA!

NSSL hosted a busy booth at the American Meteorological Society’s WeatherFest on January 23, 2011 at the

This shy young lady asked to have her picture taken with Chase StormDawg.

Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Wash.  More than 4,000 people of all ages attended the interactive weather and science fair open to the public.

NSSL’s booth featured “tornado in a bottle” demonstrations and looping videos about NSSL research.  Children were anxious to help pack an emergency backpack loaded with items such as a NOAA Weather Radio, cell phone, whistle, medicine, snacks and more.  They also identified where the safest place in a house would be in the event of a tornado warning.  Handouts available included “Careers in Meteorology,” instructions on how to make a tornado in a bottle at home, coloring pages, a word search, and an information sheet on NSSL research.

The booth was also part of a scavenger hunt where participants had to visit us to get the question, “What is the difference between a severe weather watch and a severe weather warning?” answered.

WeatherFest is an interactive outreach event designed to instill a love for math and science in children of all ages, and inspire young people to consider a career in the fields of science and engineering.

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