NOAA Hosts Hazardous Weather Forecasting Experiment in New National Weather Center

Model Forecast of Surface Winds and Simulated Radar

Model Forecast of Surface Winds and Simulated Radar

More than 60 researchers and forecasters from government agencies, academia and the private sector are expected to visit the National Weather Center on the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus this spring to work towards improving forecasts of severe weather.

The Spring Experiment hosted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) offers an irresistible opportunity for research scientists and operational forecasters to change roles for a week during the active spring severe weather season that affects large parts of the nation.

The exchange allows researchers to immerse themselves in the challenges of front-line forecasting while giving forecasters a chance to examine emerging scientific and technological advances. Both will walk away from the experience with increased knowledge of thunderstorm processes that will improve forecasts and vital forecasting tools.

Although it’s the seventh year for the experiment, this is the inaugural year for the new Hazardous Weather Testbed facility, strategically located in the recently built National Weather Center between the operational forecast areas of the NOAA Storm Prediction Center and the NOAA National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office. These two offices, along with the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory, are leading the HWT spring experiment activities planned from mid-April through June. In addition, several collaborators are providing valuable research and computing resources, some of which are available for the first time, allowing for significant improvements in precision.

There are two main areas of emphasis in the 2007 Spring Program, each occupying a different portion of the room.

The Experimental Forecast Program participants will use output from high-resolution computer prediction models to prepare experimental forecasts of severe weather. Teams composed of research scientists and operational forecasters will document strengths and weaknesses of the model output. They will also explore new data assimilation strategies and their potential impact on analysis and forecasting.

Single models are being provided by the NOAA Environmental Prediction Center and the National Center for Atmospheric Research. In addition, the Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms at the University of Oklahoma, as part of the NSF Program Linked Environments for Atmospheric Discovery (LEAD), will provide an ensemble of high-resolution models run at the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center. These resources are linked to the HWT by National LambdaRail, which in conjunction with OneNet and a donation by Cisco Systems, is providing high speed network access for the program.

Additional computing support is being provided by the University of Oklahoma Information Technology, OU Supercomputing Center for Education and Research (OSCER), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications and the NOAA Supercomputer in Gaithersburg, Md.

Teams participating in the Experimental Warning Program will focus on the shorter-term convective weather warning needs of forecasters by testing new hazardous weather services, products, and applications in a real-time operational setting. Successful results will help improve the skill of severe weather warnings issued by the National Weather Service. Researchers and forecasters will test new weather surveillance tools, such NSSL’s phased array radar and 3-D Lightning Mapping Array, and the NSF-sponsored CASA radars. Additionally, they will test new scientific concepts that will make severe weather warnings much more specific in space and time.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation. From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America’s scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

On the Web:
2007 HWT Spring Experiment Home Page:
NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed: