2012-Agenda With Topic Descriptions

2012 National Severe Weather Workshop

Greg Carbin, Jared Guyer, Rick Smith, Co-chairs

Final Agenda, February 27, 2012

View Alternate Agenda without Topic Descriptions
Click title/presenter links below to view Presentations (PDF)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

800a-815a) Presentation of Colors and National Anthem (General Session Rooms J, K, L, M)

815a-845a) Opening Remarks: (Lynn Maximuk, Director, NWS Central Region, Kansas City, MO)

845a-900a) Introductions, Information, and Instructions

Session I – A Look Back at Significant Weather Events and Outcomes
Moderators: Rick Smith and Joe Schaefer

900a-930a) 2011 Severe Weather in Review (Greg Carbin, NOAA/SPC, Norman, OK)

By many measures, 2011 was a year of unparalleled significance with respect to severe storms. The year ranks second in the shear number of tornadoes. A 24-hour record number of tornado occurred on April 27, 2011 and a number of significant killer tornado events also resulted in the greatest number of annual fatalities in the United States since 1936. This presentation will provide an overview of the more significant events, how those events were forecast by the Storm Prediction Center, and where the tornado events can be placed when viewed in historical perspective.

930a-945a) GIS Mapping the NWS Tornado Tracks and Public Health Mortality Data from the 25-28 April 2011 Tornado Outbreak (Caitlin Mertzlufft and Rebecca Noe, CDC, Atlanta, GA)

On April 25-28, 2011, a supercell thunderstorm system tore through the southeastern United States and generated approximately 300 tornadoes along its path.  Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia and Tennessee experienced the brunt of this system resulting in the deaths of more than 300 individuals and injuring many more.  By conducting post-storm field surveys, National Weather Service (NWS) offices confirmed tornado touchdowns and determined path, severity estimates, and touch down and take off timing.  Geospatial analysis of these data can provide a better understanding of the impact of the tornados on the region and populations most affected by this storm system.  Results from such analyses can inform emergency preparedness planning activities, emergency managers, and the NWS during future tornados or severe weather events. This presentation will provide an overview of the process for acquiring and integrating these NWS tornado data with available fatality and sociodemographic data in a geographic information system and will explore future studies identifying factors contributing to survival in the hardest hit regions.

945a-1000a) Communication during the Warning Process: Observations of Performance (Dale Morris, NOAA/NWS/WDTB, Norman, OK)

For years, the National Weather Service has conducted assessments of its performance following high-impact weather events.  A review of several decades of these reports reveals some common recurring themes regarding communication among critical stakeholders during warning events.  In addition, the NWS’ Warning Decision Training Branch introduced to forecasters a root cause analysis technique that can be applied to both successful and missed warning events.  WDTB has collected thousands of these analyses and has extracted common issues related to the warning process.  This paper will summarize some of the communications challenges revealed by these two analysis methods, examples of other communications problems, and some recommendations.

1000a-1030a) Break in Exhibitor Hall Rooms G, H, I (Sponsor: OZ Safe Rooms)

1030a-1045a) Texas Fires (Todd Lindley, NOAA/NWS Lubbock, TX)

In 2011, a historic statewide drought led to unprecedented wildfires across Texas.  Nearly 28,000 fires scorched 3.9 million acres and resulted in immense public impacts. This presentation will provide a brief review of the historic 2011 Texas fire season, and will relate several of the most extreme fire episodes to ongoing fire weather research.

1045a-1100a) The Joplin Tornado (Steve Runnels, NOAA/NWS Springfield, MO)

The May 22 Joplin, Missouri Tornado was an event that many thought would never happen again considering the advancements in radar detection and warning communication capabilities.  Surely with over a 20 minute lead time, how could 158 citizens directly lose their lives and more than 1100 injuries occur in an age in which news is everywhere?  In addition to providing a local NWS forecast and warning prospective on the unusual evolution of the violent tornado, this presentation will include insights gained on how the public in Joplin viewed the NWS warning program; what Tornado Emergencies have to offer to enhance response, along with the reality associated with issuing an emergency; and a look at the role that the availability of shelter plays in warning response.

1100a-1115a) Texas Drought and Fire (John Nielsen-Gammon, Texas A&M and Texas State Climatologist)

The 2011 drought was the most severe one-year drought ever recorded in Texas, also breaking records in New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.  The drought developed rapidly during fall and winter of 2010-2011, and became exceptional during the following spring and summer.  All-time records were broken for hottest summer in any state, least 12-month precipitation, and number of 100-degree days.  The exceptional nature of the drought will be examined using a variety of data sources.

1115p-1130p) Large Venue Issues/Events (Harold Hansen, Int’l Association of Venue Managers)

1130a-1145a) Discriminating EF4 from EF5 Tornado Strength (Jim LaDue, NOAA/NWS/WDTB, Norman, OK)

In the past year, there have been multiple tornadoes that have been candidates for EF5 strength and yet have been rated EF4. Other tornadoes have been rated EF5 by methods other than the degree of damage to well known structures. All of these decisions have evoked some controversy. This is not surprising since the guidance is very sparse for determining whether or not a tornado is EF5 and considerations for the remaining guidance have evolved over time. Most DIs are completely destroyed by winds well short of the EF5 values. In many of the DIs where even an EF5 rating is possible, the guidance is quite vague.

In the past year, I have been confronted with scenes from several tornadoes where each one had one or more key contentious damage indicators whose degree of damage lay right on the boundary of the EF4/5 threshold. For every one of these I will share with you considerations that I,and others employed that ultimately resulted in the final rating. In addition, I will present some other damage indicators that also yielded discussion concerning the decision to rate high or low. Finally, I will discuss the issues with nontraditional methods to rate tornadoes, and whether this is good practice.

1145a-Noon) Speaker Recognition

Noon-100p) Lunch (Sponsor: National Storm Shelter Association)

Session I (cont’d) – A Look Back at Significant Weather Events and Outcomes (General Session Rooms J, K, L, M)
Moderators: James Hocker and Liz Leitman

100p-115p) From Fire to Floods in the Southwest U.S. (J.J. Brost, Ken Drozd, NOAA/NWS Tucson, AZ)

Historic wildfires burned across southeast Arizona drawing national media attention in June 2011.  The Horseshoe 2 and Monument fires destroyed or damaged over 80 residences, businesses and other structures.  Additionally these fires modified soil conditions such that flash flood occurrence and severity could be magnified by over an order of magnitude.  Thus the post-wildfire flash flooding and debris flows may cause damage more devastating than the fires.

Southeast Arizona rapidly transitioned from the spring drought conditions to the wet summer Monsoon season by the first week of July.  The Monsoon season is characterized by frequent thunderstorm activity (almost daily over the mountains), severe convection, heavy rainfall and flash flooding.  The National Weather Service recognized the immediate need to raise awareness of the increased potential for flash flooding and debris flows in the burned areas.  Within a few days of the Monument fire becoming contained, heavy rainfall caused a flash flood which damaged multiple homes, closed major roads, caused a debris flow and re-sculptured the water channels.

This presentation will discuss how the flash flood level of awareness was raised in a couple of weeks within the affected communities and the educational materials used.  Emerging technologies, social media applications and multiple interactions with various public agencies were employed to help disseminate this information.

115p-130p) School Design and Tornado Protection: Cause for Concern (Bob Roberts, Emergency Management Coordinator, Tulsa Public Schools, Tulsa, OK)

During the Joplin tornado, the Midwest City tornado, and many others, it became clear there are features common in school design that render school buildings less than ideal. Buildings commonly include long hallways with clerestory windows and doors at both ends, many exterior walls, and windows in almost every room (including restrooms). It is evident that buildings are not designed with safety in mind for tornadic and other extreme wind events.

130p-145p) May 24, 2011 Tornado Events in Central Oklahoma (Rick Smith, NOAA/NWS, Norman, OK)

145p-200p) The Historic Missouri River Flood of 2011 (Cathy Zapotocny, NOAA/NWS, Omaha, NE)

Record breaking snowfall during the winter and spring over the upper Missouri River basin combined with record breaking rainfall over much of eastern Montana during May and June lead to historic Missouri River Flooding in 2011.  This presentation will describe this historic event and how the National Weather Service Office at Omaha/Valley (OAX) worked with the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and other government entities to provide decision support services.

200p-215p) Decision Support Services Provided by the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center in 2011 (Michael Eckert, NOAA/Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, Camp Spring, MD)

HPC has been increasingly called upon to provide Decision Support Services (DSS) to a variety of Federal, State and local agencies for ongoing and post weather-related emergencies. In the past, HPC was mostly requested for coordination during ongoing major weather events, such as land-falling hurricanes and large scale river flooding. These briefings were often targeted to National Weather Service Forecast Offices and River Forecast Centers. As the nation’s center of expertise in heavy rainfall, heavy snowfall, and medium range forecasting, HPC has broadened DSS to many different agencies in order to fulfill the NWS core requirement of protecting life and property. A review of the 2011 Decision Support Activities, and plans for expanding our role will be presented.

215p-230p) Weather Briefing

230p-245p) Speaker Recognition and Breakout Introductions/Instructions

245p-300p) Break

Breakout Sessions:

300p-400p) Stress, Fear, Panic: Decision-Making in High-Risk Environments (Facilitated by Marc Lusk, Amarillo, TX Fire Dept. in General Session Rooms J, K, L, M)

This presentation focuses on the basic human psychology that impacts the decision-making of people challenged by immediately life-threatening situations.  Topics include situational awareness, risk perception, and biases that affect decision-making in dynamic environments.  It also includes how training and experience combine to improve a person’s chances of surviving such dangerous experiences.

300p-400p) Remote presentation/conference call with Rebecca Noe of CDC and NWS offices affected by 25-27 April killer tornado events. (Conference Rooms N, O)

The CDC will share how data was collected after April 25-27 tornadoes. The session hopes to lead to understanding the data collection processes and procedures used in the WFO’s data reporting process into the NCDC database. This discussion should assist the CDC in understanding how best to collaborate. Tornado fatalities will be the focus for this session as injuries are difficult to count without access to hospital databases.

Session objectives:

- Explain CDC’s fatality data collection during the April tornadoes
- Review the elements on CDC-Red Cross mortality form – 5 mins
- Discuss NWS statistics process (e.g., deaths and event details) – 15 mins
- Data collection in-the-field
- Discuss how the numbers are reported “up-the-chain”
- Determination of “official” numbers

In the last half of the session we would like to discuss future collaboration on methods to improve accuracy of NWS reported numbers by leveraging partnerships with Red Cross, FEMA (DMORTs), state EOCs, and state vital stats offices. We may also wish to identify any barriers and next steps.

400p-500p) Poster Session (Conference Rooms P, Q)

Poster Session Moderators: Jared Guyer and Patrick Marsh

Friday, March 2, 2012

815a-845a) Opening Remarks: Russell Schneider, Director NWS Storm Prediction Center (General Session Rooms J, K, L, M)

Session II – Looking Forward: Helping Communities Prepare for Weather Hazards
Moderators: John Utech and Chris Novy

845a-900a) The NWS Roadmap (Kevin Scharfenberg, NOAA/NWS Silver Spring, MD)

To enable achieving the vision of a Weather-Ready Nation, the NWS is developing a sustainable Roadmap that lays the foundation for future NWS services meeting increasingly complex environmental, societal, technological, and economic challenges. The key concepts in the Roadmap include the provision of foundational datasets in adaptable formats to the weather enterprise, and improved Impact-Based Decision Support Services to core partners. The concepts of the Roadmap will be tested in Pilot Projects throughout the NWS, six of which are now underway. This presentation will provide an update to the progress of the NWS Roadmap and associated Pilot Projects, and how this effort is expected to enable a more Weather-Ready Nation.

900a-915a) The Role of Schools in Creating Weather Aware Communities (Rick Schmidt, Upper Dublin School District, Maple Glen, PA)

For many communities, schools represent one of the most significant life hazards in a weather-related emergency. They also provide the perfect environment to create a more “weather aware” population through a variety of means involving both staff and students.  From actual meteorology-centered curricula to NIMS and ICS training programs, schools are an integral part of StormReady certification and can be a valuable asset to any emergency management plan. This presentation will provide valuable insight into the benefits and pitfalls of working with school districts from both the standpoint of emergency management and through the use of effective geoscience curriculum design.

915a-930a) Public Assembly Venue & Event Policies (Bob C. Mayer, CFE, International Association of Venue Managers)

Public assembly venue managers face unique challenges in dealing with a variety of threats from severe weather.  In 2010 the International Association of Venue Managers published the first “Severe/Hazardous Weather Preparedness Planning Guide” to provide venue managers a basic understanding of severe/hazardous weather hazards and how to establish policies and plans for what to do in advance of, during, and after such threats.  It is important to build relationships with emergency management personnel, local WCM’s, first-responders, and others in the community to help in the coordination and communication effort related to a severe weather preparedness plan.  Venue managers must create a command center to monitor weather, designate safe shelter-in-place, and establish methodology to communicate severe weather watches and warnings to event organizers, promoters, artists, athletes, technical/operational personnel, and of course, guests and patrons attending events.  They must also recognize the value of private consulting meteorologists and other paths to continuously monitor weather conditions, both long-term and the day of the event in addition to establishing specific “triggers” so that all affected staff will know what to do when.

930a-945a) Managing Information and Decision Support during the Bastrop, Texas Wildfire (Steven Long, Wireless System Manager, Bastrop County, Office of Emergency Management)

Discussed will be the preparedness and response to the Bastrop Complex fire and how the National Weather Service and meteorologist were tied into the event along with discussion of NOAA all hazards radio and its effectiveness in the evacuation of the impacted community.

945a-1000a) The National Storm Shelter Association (Ernst Kiesling, Executive Director, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX)

The ICC – 500 Standard and FEMA Guidelines 320 and 361 present the design criteria for Safe Rooms (Storm Shelters). But there are many steps between writing a quality standard and assuring a quality product in the field. The National Storm Shelter Association (NSSA) has in place the  infrastructure and processes for assuring compliance of shelters with applicable standards. These processes and the unique organization and work of the NSSA will be presented.

1000a-1030a) Break in Exhibitor Hall Rooms G, H, I (Sponsor: Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management)

1030a-1045a) St. Louis Tornado, Factors Contributing to No Fatalities (Laura Kanofsky, NOAA/NWS St. Louis, MO)

Two tornadic supercells moved across the greater St. Louis metropolitan area on April 22nd, 2011. The northern cell produced three tornadoes, one of which was rated EF-4 with a path length of 22 miles. This long-track tornado touched down in a densely populated urban area, crossed 3 major interstates, hit Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, and crossed the Mississippi River before finally lifting in Granite City, IL. Despite widespread structural damage, there were no fatalities associated with this tornado. A root cause analysis was constructed to identify factors that may have contributed to this unusual outcome. Several key factors will be presented with an emphasis on distinguishing between elements that can be repeated in future events from those that cannot. These elements include tornado intensity, actions taken by local broadcast meteorologists, the use of NWSChat during severe weather operations, and regional building practices.

1045a-1100a) Exploring Impacts of Rapid-scan Radar Data on NWS Warning Decisions (Pamela Heinselman NOAA/OAR/NSSL, Norman, OK)

Rapid-scan weather radars, like the S-band phased array radar at the National Weather Radar Testbed in Norman, Oklahoma, improve depiction of severe storm processes. To explore potential impacts of such data on forecaster warning decision making, twelve NWS forecasters participated in a preliminary study with two controlled conditions: 1) when radar scan time is similar to VCP 12 (4.5 min), and 2) when radar scan time is faster (43 s). Under one of the controlled conditions, forecasters were paired and worked a tropical tornadic supercell case. Their decision processes were observed and audio recorded; interactions with data displays were video recorded; products issued were archived. A debriefing was conducted with each team independently and jointly, to ascertain forecaster thoughts about their decision making process. Qualitative analysis of these data revealed teams examining the same data sometimes came to different conclusions about whether and when to warn. Six factors contributing toward these differences were identified: 1) experience, 2) conceptual models, 3) confidence, 4) tolerance to potentially miss tornado occurrence, 5) perceived threats, and 6) software. The 43-s teams issued 6 warnings: 3 verified, 2 did not verify, and 1 event was missed. Warning lead times were the following: tornado, 18.6 and 11.5 min, and severe, 6 min. The three tornado warnings issued by 4.5-min teams verified, though warning lead times were shorter: 4.6 and 0 min (2 teams). In this study, use of rapid-scan data showed potential to extend warning lead time and improve forecasters’ confidence, compared to normal operations.

1100-1115a) Impact Based Warning Demonstration 2012 (Mike Hudson, NOAA/NWS Central Region Headquarters, Kansas City, MO)

1115a-1130a) Recent EF-5 Tornado Disaster Recovery Efforts: Lessons Learned from Greensburg and Parkersburg (Jack Rozdilsky, Western Illinois University, Macomb, IL)

When considering the goal of a weather ready nation, a holistic approach to the concept can include aspects of emergency management activities in the time periods before, during, and after a weather-related disaster. This poster presentation will focus on the ‘after’ period of EF-5 tornado disasters and lessons learned during the recovery from this specific type of weather hazard.

Prior to the numerous EF-5 tornados of 2011, the most recent events occurred in 2007 and 2008. On May 4, 2007, an EF-5 tornado directly impacted the city of Greensburg, Kansas. In that natural disaster, eleven persons were killed and the devastation of the city was nearly complete as the width of tornado was wider than the city itself. The following year on May 25, 2008, an EF-5 tornado struck the city of Parkersburg, Iowa. In the aftermath of that natural disaster, the southern portion of the city was devastated as over 70 persons were injured. These two cases of EF-5 tornados impacting small Midwestern cities with populations of less than 2,000 persons represent two comparable cases of how a specific type of weather disaster can threaten the continued existence a small town.

Using the case examples of Greensburg and Parkersburg, this project focuses on social science research which considers how actions taken and decisions made in the immediate aftermath of an EF-5 tornado influence the long-term recovery prospects for a community. A main premise of the project is that community recovery from an EF-5 tornado represents a unique emergency management challenge to small cities. At the point in time of five years after the Greensburg EF-5 tornado and four years after the Parkersburg EF-5 tornado, it is now possible to look back at how these communities have coped with their respective disaster recovery efforts. Greensburg has stressed incorporating sustainability and green development into its tornado disaster recovery. Parkersburg has focused on using its inherent core community strengths to engage in a locally-driven, rapid, and comprehensive recovery effort.

Taken together, Greensburg and Parkersburg provide us with lessons learned concerning how small towns can not only survive, but thrive after EF-5 tornado disasters. Given the multiple small towns that are now facing that long road of recovery from EF-5 tornado disasters, looking back at how small towns have recently faced similar challenges contributes to a holistic approach of being weather ready.

1145a-Noon) Speaker Recognition

Noon-100p) Lunch(Sponsor: Oklahoma Emergency Management Association)

Session III – The Science and Technology of Weather Forecasting and Education (General Session Rooms J, K, L, M)
Moderators: Dale Morris and Sarah Corfidi

100p-115p) Advances in GIS and NWS Data (Keith Stellman, NOAA/NWS, Shreveport, LA)

115p-130p) A Review of NWS Tornado Emergencies (Patrick Marsh, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK)

The current NWS paradigm for short-term prediction of tornadoes loosely follows the line of Tornado Watch to Tornado Warning to Tornado Emergency? What is a Tornado Emergency you ask? A Tornado Emergency is a product first issued by the Norman NWS Forecast Office immediately prior to the 03 May 1999 Moore, OK tornado entering the Oklahoma City, OK metro area to emphasize the substantial threat unfolding. Since this initial issuance the Tornado Emergency moniker has been issued over 100 unique times over a wide-range of geographic locations. This presentation takes a look at the elusive Tornado Emergency product throughout its history. Emphasis will be given to the where and when this product has been issued as well as verification of the product across tornado intensities.

130p-145p) A Look at COMET Educational Tools in Support of Spotter Training (Bryan Guarente, Boulder, CO)

Every year, National Weather Service (NWS) offices train thousands of new SKYWARN Spotters via local face-to-face classes. Historically, nearly four-hundred thousand spotters have been trained through these programs in the United States. Currently, training is highly locationspecific, and can cover anything from measuring snowfall to spotting damaging winds.

In 2011, NWS partnered with UCAR’s COMET Program to produce baseline SKYWARN Spotter training for a national audience. This online training course educates the public about volunteering as a SKYWARN Spotter, helping the NWS with their mission of protecting lives and property and understanding the meteorology of severe weather. With this basic knowledge in place, organizers of local face-to-face sessions will have more opportunity to focus on advanced and locally-relevant topics of their choice.

A team of 25 NWS personnel and private partners worked with COMET’s instructional designers to develop the baseline SKYWARN Spotter training series. Two modules have been published so far: “Role of the SKYWARN Spotter” and “SKYWARN Spotter Convective Basics”. “Role of the SKYWARN Spotter” presents the origins and purpose of spotter programs and how to communicate official spotter reports. “SKYWARN Spotter Convective Basics” presents basic information on storm structure, details on how to make spotter reports for convection, and how to stay safe while spotting severe weather. To learn more about these modules and COMET’s collaboration with the NWS to continue development of a standardized, online SKYWARN Spotter training course, plan on attending this presentation.

145p-200p) What is the Commercial Mobile Alert System (CMAS)? (John Ferree NOAA/NWS/OCWWS, Norman, OK)

200p-215p) Product Updates and Service Improvements from the Storm Prediction Center (Jared Guyer, NOAA/SPC, Norman, OK)

The NOAA/NWS Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is a primary source for hazardous weather information including Tornado and Severe Thunderstorm Watches, forecast guidance on thunderstorms and fire weather conditions out to 8-days, as well as expert analysis of evolving mesoscale winter weather and heavy rainfall events.  In recent years, the SPC has offered a number of enhanced forecast products and improved its web-based observational and weather analysis tools.  The latest updates on these product and web developments will be shared.

215p-230p) Weather Briefing

230p-245p) Speaker Recognition and Breakout Introductions/Instructions

245p-300p) Break in Exhibitor Hall Rooms G, H,I

Breakout Sessions:

300p-400p) Dual-pol Radar Information Breakout Session (Conference Rooms N, O and repeated at 400 pm)

300p-500p) Panel Discussion: NOAA Weather Radio and Communication of Hazard Information (Facilitated by Tom Fahy, Washington, D.C. in General Session Rooms J, K, L, M)

Friday Evening Banquet

(Sponsor: Jim Giles’ Safe Rooms)

630p-900p) Banquet Speaker*: Mr. Keith Stammer, Joplin – Jasper County, Missouri Emergency Management Agency

(*Speaker will start around 730p. You must have a dinner banquet reservation to attend the presentation.)

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Session IV – Severe Weather Awarenesssession open to the public through registration page (General Session Rooms J, K, L, M)
Moderator: Rick Smith

830a) Welcome and Introduction

835a) 2011 Severe Weather in Review (Greg Carbin, NOAA/SPC, Norman, OK)

850a) A Close Encounter with an EF5 Tornado – May 24, 2011 (Chris Novy)

905a) Discriminating EF4 from EF5 Tornado Strength (Jim LaDue, NOAA/NWS/WDTB, Norman, OK)

920a) A Look at COMET Educational Tools in Support of Spotter Training (Bryan Guarente, Boulder, CO)

935a) Break

955a) A Review of NWS Tornado Emergencies (Patrick Marsh, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK)

1010a) Virtual Operations Support Teams: Using Social Media to Promote Situation Awareness (John Butler)

1030a) Basic Storm Spotter Training (Rick Smith, NOAA/NWS, Norman, OK)

1130a) Workshop Ends

Stress, Fear, and Panic: Decision-making in High-Risk Environments