National Severe Storms Laboratory

Last updated

The National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather research laboratory under the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. It is one of seven NOAA Research Laboratories (RLs). [1]

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration An American scientific agency within the US Department of Commerce that focuses on the oceans and the atmosphere

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an American scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere.

Contents

NSSL studies weather radar, tornadoes, flash floods, lightning, damaging winds, hail, and winter weather out of Norman, Oklahoma, using various techniques and tools in their HWT, or Hazardous Weather Testbed. NSSL meteorologists developed the first doppler radar for the purpose of meteorological observation, and contributed to the development of the NEXRAD (WSR-88D).

NEXRAD

NEXRAD or Nexrad is a network of 159 high-resolution S-band Doppler weather radars operated by the National Weather Service (NWS), an agency of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) within the United States Department of Commerce, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) within the Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Air Force within the Department of Defense. Its technical name is WSR-88D.

NSSL has a partnership with the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) at the University of Oklahoma that enables collaboration and participation by students and visiting scientists in performing research. [2] The Lab also works closely with the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the National Weather Service Norman Forecast Office, which are co-located at the National Weather Center (NWC) in Norman, Oklahoma. [2] The NWC houses a combination of University of Oklahoma, NOAA and state organizations that work in collaboration.

Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies

The Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies is a research organization created in 1978 by a cooperative agreement between the University of Oklahoma and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. CIMMS promotes collaborative research between NOAA and OU scientists on problems of mutual interest to improve basic understanding of mesoscale meteorological phenomena, weather radar, and regional climate to help produce better forecasts and warnings that save lives and property. CIMMS research contributes to the NOAA mission through improvement of the observation, analysis, understanding, and prediction of weather elements and systems and climate anomalies ranging in size from cloud nuclei to multi-state areas.

Storm Prediction Center sub-agency of the United States National Weather Service

The Storm Prediction Center (SPC) is a government agency that is part of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), operating under the control of the National Weather Service (NWS), which in turn is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States Department of Commerce (DoC).

National Weather Center

The National Weather Center (NWC), on the campus of the University of Oklahoma, is a confederation of federal, state, and academic organizations that work together to better understand events that take place in Earth's atmosphere over a wide range of time and space scales. The NWC partners give equal attention to applying that understanding to the development of improved observation, analysis, assimilation, display, and prediction systems. The National Weather Center also has expertise in local and regional climate, numerical modeling, hydrology, and weather radar. Members of the NWC work with a wide range of federal, state, and local government agencies to help reduce loss of life and property to hazardous weather, ensure wise use of water resources, and enhance agricultural production. They also work with private sector partners to develop new applications of weather and regional climate information that provide competitive advantage in the marketplace.

History

NSSL's first Doppler weather radar, the NSSL Doppler, located in Norman, Oklahoma. 1970s research using this radar led to NWS NEXRAD WSR-88D radar network. Doppler Weather Radar - NOAA.jpg
NSSL's first Doppler weather radar, the NSSL Doppler, located in Norman, Oklahoma. 1970s research using this radar led to NWS NEXRAD WSR-88D radar network.
The first tornado captured on May 24, 1973, by the NSSL Doppler weather radar and NSSL chase personnel. The tornado is here in its early stage of formation near Union City, Oklahoma Tornado4 - NOAA.jpg
The first tornado captured on May 24, 1973, by the NSSL Doppler weather radar and NSSL chase personnel. The tornado is here in its early stage of formation near Union City, Oklahoma

In 1962 a research team from the United States Weather Bureau's National Severe Storms Project (NSSP) moved from Kansas City, Missouri to Norman, Oklahoma, where, in 1956, the Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory had installed a 3 cm continuous-wave Doppler Weather Surveillance Radar-1957 (WSR-57). This radar was designed to detect very high wind speeds in tornadoes, but could not determine the distance to the tornadoes. In 1963, the Weather Radar Laboratory (WRL) was established in Norman and, in the following year, engineers modified the radar to transmit in pulses. The pulse-Doppler radar could receive data in between each transmit pulse, eliminating the need for two antennas and solving the distance problem. [3]

Norman, Oklahoma City in Oklahoma, United States

Norman is a city in the U.S. state of Oklahoma located 20 miles (32 km) south of downtown Oklahoma City. As the county seat of Cleveland County and a part of the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, its population was 110,925 at the 2010 census. Norman's estimated population of 122,843 in 2017 makes it the third-largest city in Oklahoma.

Continuous-wave radar

Continuous-wave radar is a type of radar system where a known stable frequency continuous wave radio energy is transmitted and then received from any reflecting objects. Continuous-wave (CW) radar uses Doppler, which renders the radar immune to interference from large stationary objects and slow moving clutter.

WSR-57

WSR-57 radars were the USA's main weather surveillance radar for over 35 years. The National Weather Service operated a network of this model radar across the country, watching for severe weather.

In 1964, the remainder of the NSSP moved to Norman, where it merged with WRL and was renamed the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). Dr. Edwin Kessler became the first director. [3] In 1969, NSSL obtained a surplus 10-cm pulse-Doppler radar from the United States Air Force. This radar was used to scan and film the complete life cycle of a tornado in 1973. By comparing the film with velocity images from the radar, the researchers found a pattern that showed the tornado beginning to form before it could be visually detected on the film. The researchers named this phenomenon the Tornado Vortex Signature (TVS). [3] Research using this radar led to the concept that would later go on to become the NWS NEXRAD WSR-88D radar network. In 1973, the Laboratory commissioned a second Doppler weather radar, named the Cimarron radar, located 15 miles (24 km) west of Oklahoma City. This enabled NSSL to perform dual Doppler experiments while scanning storms with both radars simultaneously. [3] A deliberate decision to collocate research with operations led the National Severe Storms Forecast Center to move from Kansas City to Norman in 1997, changing its name to the Storm Prediction Center. [3] This move would allow for improved collaborations between NSSL and SPC. Some three years later in 2000, the first NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) Spring Experiment took place. This would become an annual event to evaluate operational and experimental models and algorithms with the NWS.

Edwin Kessler

Edwin Kessler III was an American atmospheric scientist who oversaw the development of Doppler weather radar and was the first director of the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).

Organization

NSSL is organized into three primary divisions:

Forecast Research & Development

FACETs

Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats (FACETs) serves as a broad-based framework and strategy to help focus and direct efforts related to next-generation science, technology and tools for forecasting environmental hazards. FACETS will address grid-based probabilistic threats, storm-scale observations and guidance, the forecaster, threat grid tools, useful output, effective response, and verification.

Warn-on-Forecast

The Warn-on-Forecast (WoF) research project aims to deliver a set of technologies for FACETs on a variety of space and time scales. WoF aims to create computer-model projections that accurately predict storm-scale phenomena such as tornadoes, large hail, and extremely localized rainfall. If Warn-on-Forecast is successful, forecasts likely could improve lead time by factors of 2 to 4 times.

NSSL-WRF

The Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model is the product of a collaboration between the meteorological research and forecasting communities. Working at the interface between research and operations, NSSL scientists have been some of the main contributors to WRF development efforts and continue to provide operational implementation and testing of WRF. The NSSL WRF generates daily, real-time 1- to 36-hour experimental forecasts at a 4 km resolution of precipitation, lightning threat, and more.

WoF Tornado Threat Prediction

WoF Tornado Threat Prediction (WoF-TTP) is a research project to develop a 0–1 hour, 1-km resolution suite of high detail computer models to forecast individual convective storms and their tornadic potential. Target future average lead-time for tornado warnings via WoF-TTP is 40–60 minutes. The technology and science developed to achieve the WoF-TTP goal hopes to improve the prediction of other convective weather threats such as large hail and damaging winds.

NME

NSSL’s Mesoscale Ensemble (NME) is an experimental analysis and short-range ensemble forecast system. These forecasts are designed to be used by forecasters as a 3-D hourly analysis of the environment.

Q2

The National Mosaic and Multi-sensor Quantitative Precipitation Estimation (NMQ) system uses a combination of observing systems ranging from radars to satellites on a national scale to produce precipitation forecasts. NMQ's prototype QPE products are also known as “Q2” - next-generation products combining the most effective multi-sensor techniques to estimate precipitation.


NEXRAD

NSSL scientists helped develop the Weather Surveillance Radar - 1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) radars, also known as NEXt-generation RADar (NEXRAD). Since the first Doppler weather radar became operational in Norman in 1974, NSSL has worked to extend its functionality, and proved to the NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) that Doppler weather radar was important as a nowcasting tool. The NWS now has a network of 158 NEXRADs.

Dual-Polarized Weather Radar (Dual-Pol)

Dual-polarized (dual-pol) radar technology is truly a NOAA-wide accomplishment. NSSL spent nearly 30 years researching and developing the technology. The National Weather Service (NWS) and NSSL developed the specifications for the modification, which was tested by engineers at the NWS Radar Operations Center. The NWS Warning Decision Training Branch provided timely and relevant training to all NWS forecasters who would be using the technology. The upgraded radars offer 14 new radar products to better determine the type and intensity of precipitation, and can confirm tornadoes are on the ground causing damage. Dual-pol is the most significant enhancement made to the nation's radar network since Doppler radar was first installed in the early 1990s.


Multi-Function Phased Array Radar (MPAR)

More than 350 FAA radars and by 2025, nearly 150 of the nation's Doppler weather radars will need to be either replaced or have their service life extended. Phased array radars have been used by the military for many years to track aircraft. NSSL's MPAR program is investigating to see if both the aircraft surveillance and weather surveillance functions can be combined into one radar. Combining the operational requirements of these various radar systems with a single technology solution would result in fiscal savings, and lesser resources with a greater end result.

Mobile Radar

NSSL researchers teamed up with several universities to build a mobile Doppler radar: a Doppler radar mounted on the back of a truck. The mobile radar can be driven into position as a storm is developing to scan the atmosphere at low levels, below the beam of WSR-88D radars. NSSL has used mobile radars to study tornadoes, hurricanes, dust storms, winter storms, mountain rainfall, and even biological phenomena.

Warning Research & Development

FACETs

Forecasting a Continuum of Environmental Threats (FACETs) serves as a broad-based framework and strategy to help focus and direct efforts related to next-generation science, technology and tools for forecasting environmental hazards. FACETs will address grid-based probabilistic threats, storm-scale observations and guidance, the forecaster, threat grid tools, useful output, effective response, and verification.

MYRORSS

The Multi-Year Reanalysis Of Remotely-Sensed Storms (MYRORSS – pronounced “mirrors”) NSSL and the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) to reconstruct and evaluate numerical model output and radar products derived from 15 years of WSR-88D data over the coterminous U.S. (CONUS). The end result of this research will be a rich dataset with a diverse range of applications, including severe weather diagnosis and climatological information.

Hazardous Weather Testbed

NOAA's Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) is jointly managed by NSSL, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the National Weather Service Oklahoma City/Norman Weather Forecast Office (OUN) on the University of Oklahoma campus inside the National Weather Center. The HWT is designed to accelerate the transition of promising new meteorological insights and technologies into advances in forecasting and warning for hazardous mesoscale weather events throughout the United States.

Threats in Motion

One of the new warning methodologies being tested in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed is the “Threats-In-Motion” (TIM) concept. TIM warning grids update every minute and move continuously with the path of the storm. TIM has the advantage of providing useful lead times for all locations downstream of the hazards, and continually removes the warning from areas where threat has already passed.

FLASH

The Flooded Locations And Simulated Hydrographs Project (FLASH) was launched in early 2012 to improve the accuracy and timing of flash flood warnings. FLASH uses forecast models, geographic information, and real-time high-resolution, accurate rainfall observations from the NMQ/Q2 project to produce flash flood forecasts at 1-km/5-min resolution. FLASH project development continues to be an active collaboration between members of NSSL's Stormscale Hydrometeorology and Hydromodeling Groups, and the HyDROS Lab at the University of Oklahoma.

CI-FLOW

The Coastal and Inland Flooding Observation and Warning (CI-FLOW) project is a demonstration projection that predicts the combined effects of coastal and inland floods for coastal North Carolina. CI-FLOW captures the complex interaction between rainfall, river flows, waves, and tides and storm surge, and how they will impact ocean and river water levels. NSSL, with support from the NOAA National Sea Grant, leads the large and unique interdisciplinary team.

Decision Support

In an effort to support NWS forecasters, NSSL investigates methods and techniques to diagnose severe weather events more quickly and accurately.

AWIPS2

NSSL has more than ten NWS workstations—the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System 2 (AWIPS2)—available for use in product evaluation. NSSL uses these AWIPS2 stations to test and demonstrate warning products and techniques that have been developed here that will be available in the NWS Forecast Office in the future.

WDSS-II

In the 1990s, NSSL developed the Warning Decision Support System, to enhance NWS warning capabilities. NSSL continues to work on the next generation WDSS-II (Warning Decision Support System: Integrated Information/NMQ), a tool that quickly combines data streams from multiple radars, surface and upper air observations, lightning detection systems, and satellite and forecast models. This improved and expanded system will eventually be moved to National Weather Service operations as the Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system, and will automatically produce severe weather and precipitation products for improved decision-making capability within NOAA.

NSSL: On-Demand

NSSL: On-Demand is a web-based tool based on WDSS-II that helps confirm when and where severe weather occurred by mapping radar-detected circulations or hail on Google Earth satellite images. National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices, including those affected by the April 27, 2011 tornado outbreak, use the images to plan post event damage surveys. Emergency responders use On-Demand to produce high-resolution street maps of affected areas, so they can more effectively begin rescue and recovery efforts and damage assessments.

NSSL Development Lab

NSSL's Development Lab includes four wall-mounted plasma screen displays and enough room for at least 10 workstations. A large round table occupies the middle of the room for lunchtime “brown bag” discussions and other meetings. Researchers, forecasters and developers are using the lab to evaluate new platforms and techniques in real-time as a team. The workstations in the lab can be quickly adapted for visualization and incorporation of unique data sources including dual-pol and phased array radars.

NMQ

NSSL created a powerful research and development tool for the creation of new techniques, strategies and applications to better estimate and forecast precipitation amounts, locations and types. The National Mosaic and Multi-sensor Quantitative Precipitation Estimation system (NMQ) uses a combination of observing systems ranging from radars to satellites on a national scale to produce precipitation forecasts.

MRMS

The MRMS system is the proposed operational version of the Warning Decision Support System - Integrated Information (WDSS-II) and the National Mosaic Quantitative Precipitation Estimation system.

MRMS is a system with automated algorithms that quickly and intelligently integrate data streams from multiple radars, surface and upper air observations, lightning detection systems, and satellite and forecast models. Numerous two-dimensional multiple-sensor products offer assistance for hail, wind, tornado, quantitative precipitation estimation forecasts, convection, icing, and turbulence diagnosis.The MRMS system was developed to produce severe weather and precipitation products for improved decision-making capability to improve severe weather forecasts and warnings, hydrology, aviation, and numerical weather prediction.

3D-VAR

A weather-adaptive three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) system from NSSL/CIMMS automatically detects and analyzes supercell thunderstorms. The 3DVAR system uses data from the national WSR-88D radar network and NCEP's North American Mesoscale model product to automatically locate regions of thunderstorm activity. It is able to identify deep rotating updrafts that indicate a supercell thunderstorm at 1 km resolution every five minutes in these regions.

Field Research

NSSL participates in field research projects to collect weather data to increase knowledge about thunderstorm behavior and thunderstorm hazards.

Plains Elevated Convection At Night (PECAN) (2015)

PECAN was an extensive field project that focused on nighttime convection. PECAN was conducted across northern Oklahoma, central Kansas and into south-central Nebraska from 1 June to 15 July 2015.

VORTEX2 (2009-2010)

NSSL participated in the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment 2009-2010 , an extensive project studying small scale kinematics, atmospheric variables and when and why tornadoes form. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Science Foundation (NSF) supported more than 100 scientists, students and staff from around the world to collect weather measurements around and under thunderstorms that could produce tornadoes.

VORTEX (1994-1995)

The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment was a two-year project designed to verify a number of ongoing questions about the causes of tornado formation. A new mobile Doppler radar was used and provided revolutionary data on several tornadic storms.

TOTO (1981-1987)

The TOtable TOrnado Observatory (TOTO), developed by NOAA Environmental Research Laboratory scientists, was a 55-gallon barrel outfitted with anemometers, pressure sensors, and humidity sensors, along with devices to record the data. In theory, a team would roll TOTO out of the back of the pickup in the path of a tornado, switch on the instruments, and get out of the way. Several groups tried to deploy TOTO over the years, but never took a direct hit. The closest TOTO ever came to success was in 1984 when it was sideswiped by the edge of a weak tornado and was knocked over. TOTO was retired in 1987.

Project Rough Rider (1980s)

Aircraft flew into thunderstorms to measure turbulence during in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. This data was combined with measurements of the intensity of the rain from nearby WSR-57s to understand how thunderstorm echoes and turbulence are related, with the goal of improving short-term turbulence forecasts.

Observation

Field Observing Systems

Mobile Mesonet

Scientists and technicians from NSSL and the University of Oklahoma built their first Mobile Mesonet (MM) vehicles, a.k.a. “probes,” in 1992. [4] Probes are modified minivans with a suite of weather instruments mounted atop a roof rack and a complex of computer and communication equipment inside. NSSL scientists drive these through storms and storm environments to make measurements of temperature, pressure, humidity and wind.

2-Dimensional Video Distrometer (2DVD)

NSSL's 2DVD takes high speed video pictures, from two different angles, of anything falling from the sky through its viewing area (such as raindrops, hail or snow). It is used in polarimetric radar studies by measuring rain rate, drop shape and size distribution, and other parameters useful in narrowing down the accuracy of precipitation identification algorithms.

Portable Observation Device (POD)

NSSL has available small portable weather platforms with sensors that measure temperature, pressure, moisture, wind speed and direction, and an instrument called a Parsivel (PARticle, SIze, VELocity) disdrometer. These can be deployed quickly in the field, in and around thunderstorms.

Weather balloons

NSSL launches special research weather balloon systems into thunderstorms. Measurements from the sensor packages attached to the balloons provide data about conditions inside the storm where it has often proved too dangerous for research aircraft to fly.

Particle Size Image and Velocity Probe (PASIV)

PASIV is a balloon-borne instrument designed to capture images of water and ice particles as it is launched into, and rises up through, a thunderstorm. The instrument is flown as part of a “train” of other instruments connected one after another to a balloon. These other instruments measure electrical field strength and direction, and other variables such as temperature, dewpoint, pressure and winds.

Collaborative Lower Atmospheric Mobile Profiling System (CLAMPS)

NSSL has a mobile, trailer-based boundary layer profiling facility using commercially available sensors. CLAMPS contains a Doppler lidar, a multi-channel microwave radiometer, and an Atmospheric Emitted Radiance Interferometer (AERI). CLAMPS meets a NOAA/NWS operational and research need of for profiles of temperature, humidity, and winds near the surface of the earth.

Electric Field Meters (EFM)

NSSL's Field Observing Facilities and Support group (FOFS) is responsible for a device called an Electric Field Meter (EFM) that is attached, along with other instruments, to a special research balloon and launched into thunderstorms. As they are carried up through electrified storms, these EFMs are designed to measure the strength and direction of the electric fields that build up before lightning strikes occur. Data from this instrument helps researchers learn more about the electrical structure of storms.

Mobile laboratories

NSSL operates two mobile laboratories (custom built by an ambulance company) called NSSL6 and NSSL7, outfitted with computer and communication systems, balloon launching equipment, and weather instruments. These mobile labs can be deployed on a rapid basis to collect data or coordinate field operations.

Mobile Doppler radar

NSSL researchers with the University of Oklahoma built their first mobile Doppler radar in 1993. Current versions of mobile radars (for example, NSSL's NOXP) can be driven into positions very close to storms, observing details that are typically out of sight of the beam of more distant WSR-88D radars. NSSL has also used mobile radars to study tornadoes, hurricanes, dust storms, winter storms, mountain rainfall, and even biological phenomena.

Fixed Observing Systems

Oklahoma Lightning Mapping Array (OKLMA)

NSSL installed, operates and maintains the OKLMA. Thousands of points can be mapped for an individual lightning flash to reveal its location and the development of its structure. NSSL scientists hope to learn more about how storms produce intra-cloud and cloud-to-ground flashes and how each type is related to tornadoes and other severe weather.

Satellite

NSSL researchers are working on products that use GOES satellite data to identify rapidly growing clouds that might indicate a developing thunderstorm. They are also working on products that estimate wind shear and stability in the surrounding environment to forecast the future severity of the storm.

Boundary layer profilers

NSSL uses special instruments mounted on the top of the National Weather Center that can measure the thermodynamic properties of the lowest 1–2 km of the atmosphere (boundary layer). Researchers study the data to learn more about the structure of the boundary layer, shallow convective cloud processes, the interaction between clouds, aerosols, radiation, precipitation and the thermodynamic environment, mixed phase clouds, and more. Numerical models, such as those used for climate and weather prediction, have large uncertainties in all of these areas. Researchers also use these observations to improve our understanding and representation of these processes.

SHAVE

NSSL uses observations from people too! The mostly student-run NSSL/CIMMS Severe Hazards Analysis and Verification Experiment (SHAVE) collects hail, wind damage and flash flooding reports through phone surveys. SHAVE reports, when combined with the voluntary reports collected by the NWS, creates a unique and comprehensive database of severe and non-severe weather events and enhances climatological information about severe storm threats in the U.S.

mPING

Another way NSSL uses public observations is through the Meteorological Phenomena Identification Near the Ground (mPING) project. Volunteers can report on the precipitation that is reaching the ground at their location through mobile apps (iOS and Android). Researchers compare the reports of precipitation with what is detected by the dual-polarized radar data to refine precipitation identification algorithms.

Simulation

NSSL researchers have created a computer model that can simulate a thunderstorm to study how changes in the environment can affect its behavior. They also contribute to the development of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model used in both research and NWS operations.

NSSL WRF

The Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model is the product of a unique collaboration between the meteorological research and forecasting communities. Its level of sophistication is appropriate for cutting edge research, yet it operates efficiently enough to produce high resolution guidance for front-line forecasters in a timely manner. Working at the interface between research and operations, NSSL scientists have been major contributors to WRF development efforts and continue to provide leadership in the operational implementation and testing of WRF. The NSSL WRF generates daily, real-time 1- to 36-hour experimental forecasts at a 4 km resolution of precipitation, lightning threat, and more.

COMMAS

The NSSL COllaborative Model for Multiscale Atmospheric Simulation (COMMAS) is a 3D cloud model used to recreate thunderstorms for closer study. COMMAS is able to ingest radar data and lightning data from past events. Researchers use COMMAS to explore the microphysical structure and evolution of the storm and the relationship between microphysics and storm electricity. They also use COMMAS to simulate different phases of significant events, such as the early tornadic phase of the Greensburg, Kansas supercell that destroyed much of the town in 2004.

FLASH

The Flooded Locations And Simulated Hydrographs Project (FLASH) was launched in early 2012 largely in response to the demonstration and real-time availability of high-resolution, accurate rainfall observations from the NMQ/Q2 project. FLASH introduces a new paradigm in flash flood prediction that uses the NMQ forcing and produces flash flood forecasts at 1-km/5-min resolution through direct, forward simulation. The primary goal of the FLASH project is to improve the accuracy, timing, and specificity of flash flood warnings in the US, thus saving lives and protecting infrastructure. The FLASH team is composed of researchers and students who use an interdisciplinary and collaborative approach to achieve the goal.

Testbeds

Hazardous Weather Testbed

NOAA's Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) is jointly managed by NSSL, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and the National Weather Service Oklahoma City/Norman Weather Forecast Office (OUN) on the University of Oklahoma campus inside the National Weather Center. The HWT is designed to accelerate the transition of promising new meteorological insights and technologies into advances in forecasting and warning for hazardous mesoscale weather events throughout the United States.

National Weather Radar Testbed

NOAA's National Weather Radar Testbed (NWRT) is a phased array radar (PAR) being tested and evaluated in Norman, Oklahoma. The NWRT was established to demonstrate the potential to simultaneously perform aircraft tracking, wind profiling, and weather surveillance as a multi-function phased-array radar (MPAR). The advanced capabilities of the NWRT could lead to better warnings of severe weather.

See also

Related Research Articles

Severe thunderstorm warning

A severe thunderstorm warning is issued by the National Weather Service when trained storm spotters or Doppler weather radar indicate that a thunderstorm is producing or will soon produce dangerously large hail or high winds, capable of causing significant damage. In the United States, severe thunderstorm warnings do not account for lightning, a significant hazard in any thunderstorm, or flooding caused by a thunderstorm's extreme rainfall. A similar warning is issued by Environment Canada's Meteorological Service of Canada from their offices in Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, Montreal and Dartmouth. Skywarn issues the severe thunderstorm warnings for the United Kingdom. Just as in the United States, lightning does not warrant a severe thunderstorm warning. In Australia, severe thunderstorm warnings are issued by the Bureau of Meteorology for all Australian states.

National Weather Service United States weather agency

The National Weather Service (NWS) is an agency of the United States federal government that is tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather, and other weather-related products to organizations and the public for the purposes of protection, safety, and general information. It is a part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) branch of the Department of Commerce, and is headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, within the Washington metropolitan area. The agency was known as the United States Weather Bureau from 1890 until it adopted its current name in 1970.

Weather radar radar used to locate and monitor meteorological conditions

Weather radar, also called weather surveillance radar (WSR) and Doppler weather radar, is a type of radar used to locate precipitation, calculate its motion, and estimate its type. Modern weather radars are mostly pulse-Doppler radars, capable of detecting the motion of rain droplets in addition to the intensity of the precipitation. Both types of data can be analyzed to determine the structure of storms and their potential to cause severe weather.

Hook echo

A hook echo is a pendant or hook-shaped weather radar signature as part of some supercell thunderstorms. It is found in the lower portions of a storm as air and precipitation flow into a mesocyclone resulting in a curved feature of reflectivity. The echo is produced by rain, hail, or even debris being wrapped around the supercell. It is one of the classic hallmarks of tornado-producing supercells. The National Weather Service may consider the presence of a hook echo coinciding with a tornado vortex signature as sufficient to justify issuing a tornado warning.

The Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms (CAPS) was established at the University of Oklahoma in 1989 as one of the first eleven National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers. Located at the National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma, its mission is the development of techniques for the computer-based prediction of high-impact local weather, such as individual spring and winter storms, with the NEXRAD (WSR-88D) Doppler weather radar serving as a key data source.

ARMOR Doppler Weather Radar

ARMOR Doppler weather radar is a C-Band, Dual-Polarimetric Doppler Weather Radar, located at the Huntsville International Airport in Huntsville, Alabama. The radar is a collaborative effort between WHNT-TV and the University of Alabama in Huntsville. Live data for the radar is only available to a limited audience, such as UAH employees and NWS meteorologists. All ARMOR data is archived at the National Space Science and Technology Center located on the UAH campus.

Volumetric Imaging and Processing of Integrated Radar, known by the acronym VIPIR, is an analysis and display program for Doppler weather radar, created and sold by Baron Services. This software allows improved analysis of radar data for private users, in particular television stations, similar to the Weather Decision Support System program used by the National Weather Service.

Convective storm detection is the meteorological observation, and short-term prediction, of deep moist convection (DMC). DMC describes atmospheric conditions producing single or clusters of large vertical extension clouds ranging from cumulus congestus to cumulonimbus, the latter producing thunderstorms associated with lightning and thunder. Those two types of clouds can produce severe weather at the surface and aloft.

Tornado vortex signature

A tornado vortex signature or tornadic vortex signature, abbreviated TVS, is a Pulse-Doppler radar weather radar detected rotation algorithm that indicates the likely presence of a strong mesocyclone that is in some stage of tornadogenesis. It may give meteorologists the ability to pinpoint and track the location of tornadic rotation within a larger storm, but it is not an important feature in the National Weather Service's warning operations.

VORTEX projects

The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment or VORTEX are field projects that study tornadoes. VORTEX1 was the first time scientists completely researched the entire evolution of a tornado with an array of instrumentation, enabling a greater understanding of the processes involved with tornadogenesis. A violent tornado near Union City, Oklahoma was documented in its entirety by chasers of the Tornado Intercept Project (TIP) in 1973 and visual observations led to advancement in understanding of tornado structure and life cycles. VORTEX2 utilized enhanced technology allowing scientists to improve forecasting capabilities to improve advanced warnings to residents. VORTEX2 sought to elucidate how tornadoes form, how long they last and why they last that long, and what causes them to dissipate.

Terminal Doppler Weather Radar

Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) is a Doppler weather radar system with a three-dimensional "pencil beam" used primarily for the detection of hazardous wind shear conditions, precipitation, and winds aloft on and near major airports situated in climates with great exposure to thunderstorms in the United States. As of 2011, all were in-service with 45 operational radars, some covering multiple airports in major metropolitan locations, across the United States & Puerto Rico. Several similar weather radars have also been sold to other countries such as China. Funded by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), TDWR technology was developed in the early 1990s at Lincoln Laboratory, part of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to assist air traffic controllers by providing real-time wind shear detection and high-resolution precipitation data.

National Weather Service Lincoln, Illinois

National Weather Service Lincoln, Illinois also known as National Weather Service Central Illinois is a weather forecast office responsible for monitoring weather conditions for 35 counties in Central and Southeastern Illinois. The Central Illinois office initially consisted of two forecast offices in Peoria and Springfield until the current location in Lincoln became the sole local forecast office in 1995. Federal meteorology offices and stations in the region date back to the 19th century when the Army Signal Service began taking weather observations using weather equipment at the Springer Building in Springfield. Since that time the presence of the National Weather Service greatly increased with the installation of new weather radars, stations and forecast offices. The current office in Lincoln maintains a WSR-88D (NEXRAD) radar system, and Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) that greatly improve forecasting in the region. Lincoln is in charge of weather forecasts, warnings and local statements as well as aviation weather.

National Weather Service Norman, Oklahoma

National Weather Service - Norman, Oklahoma is a Weather Forecast Office (WFO) of the National Weather Service based in Norman, Oklahoma, which is responsible for forecasts and the dissemination of weather warnings and advisories for central and most of western Oklahoma, and western portions of north Texas. It is located in the National Weather Center on the University of Oklahoma campus, where it acts as one of the NOAA Weather Partners, a group of close-together weather-related agencies of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NWS Norman is currently overseen by David Andra, who serves as the Meteorologist In Charge of the office.

Leslie R. Lemon is an American meteorologist bridging research and forecasting with expertise in weather radar, particular regarding severe convective storms. Lemon is, along with Charles A. Doswell III, a seminal contributor to the modern conception of the supercell which was first identified by Keith Browning, and he developed the Lemon technique to estimate updraft strength and thunderstorm organization also as a continuation of Browning's work.

The following is a glossary of tornado terms. It includes scientific as well as selected informal terminology.

National Weather Service Kansas City/Pleasant Hill, Missouri

National Weather Service - Pleasant Hill/Kansas City, Missouri is a Weather Forecast Office (WFO) of the National Weather Service, which is responsible for forecasts and the dissemination of weather warnings and advisories for 37 counties in northern and western Missouri and seven counties in extreme eastern Kansas, including the Kansas City and St. Joseph metropolitan areas. Though, as the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma is responsible for issuing severe thunderstorm and tornado watches, the Pleasant Hill/Kansas City WFO only composes outline and status updates for SPC-issued watches affecting any portion of its designated County Warning Area.

NSSL Doppler

NOAA's 10 cm Doppler Weather Radar was a 10 cm wavelength S-band Doppler Weather Radar, commonly referred to as "NSSL Doppler" and was used to track severe weather and related meteorological phenomena. The radar became operational soon after its donation, collecting its first data in May 1971. Data was collected on magnetic tapes and processed on a NASA computer post event due to the lack of real-time capability at the time.

References

  1. "NOAA Research Laboratories". NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Retrieved 2014-04-26.
  2. 1 2 National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Severe Storms Laboratory. About NSSL. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "National Severe Storms Laboratory NSSL History"
  4. "Research Tools: Observation". The National Severe Storms Laboratory. Retrieved February 2, 2018.

Further reading