NCEP Quarterly Newsletter - FY16Q3
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AWC: Aviation Weather Center Releases Experimental Impacts TAF Board for Comment
On June 27, AWC released the experimental Impacts TAF Board for public comment.

This product is a time series display at airports with significant impact on the National Airspace System (NAS) across the United States. It allows the aviation community to quickly ascertain the specific weather impacts at key airports, based on the TAF. Each box (hourly forecasts from TAF) is color-coded based on the level and potential impact of weather hazards, while utilizing thresholds specific to each airport. More detailed information can be found for each site by clicking on the station identifier. This data assists dispatchers and air traffic managers with flight planning while also raising situational awareness and improving operational decision making.

Impacts TAF Board (Experimental)
Impacts TAF Board (Experimental)

AWC Participates in NTSB PIREP Forum
On June 21-22, the AWC participated in a discussion on the use of pilot weather reports (PIREPs) during a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) forum in Washington, DC.

The event focused on the need to improve the PIREP and weather dissemination process as well as future improvements and emerging technologies that may provide greater pilot awareness of weather conditions. PIREPs are most effective when they are accurate and reliable, and quickly disseminated throughout the National Airspace System (NAS). The forum discussed the issues that currently degrade the effectiveness of PIREPs and uncovered new information from across the aviation community that will be used to find ways to best improve PIREP handling and use. Nearly 20 aviation stakeholders and partners, including other federal agencies, airlines, associations, and academic organizations participated. A NTSB formal report, including recommendations, will be released by the end of the year.

AWC Participates in NTSB PIREP Forum
AWC Participates in NTSB PIREP Forum

CPC Transitions New Outgoing Longwave Radiation (OLR) Product to Operations
A CPC group, led by Dr. Pingping Xie, accomplished the transition of hyperspectral OLR data to real-time operational applications at NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC).

The hyperspectral OLR is produced by NESDIS using the measurements from the Infrared Atmospheric Sounding Interferometer (IASI) aboard METOP satellites. This new OLR data presents refined temporal and spatial resolution (daily / 0.25olat/lon) and much improved accuracy in capturing climate variations than the currently operational OLR data based on a method developed over 35 years ago from the window channel measurements from the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer (AVHRR). The hyperspectral OLR is capable of capturing OLR variations associated with both convective activities and moisture changes, enabling enhanced climate monitoring and analysis capabilities. The transition of the IASI hyperspectral OLR represents an important first step towards the development of a new generation OLR data set based on broadband and hyperspectral measurements.

As an intermediate step before the generation of the new OLR is the calibration of IASI OLR against the long-term OLR climatology of AVHRR in order to examine it from a climate perspective. The daily, pentad and monthly fields are now produced on a real-time basis and provided to the CPC Operational Prediction Branch (OPB) as supplemental information for their operations. As illustrated in the figure, the IASI OLR is capable of depicting more details in OLR variations associated with global convective activities. Additional ongoing work, supported by the NESDIS JPSS Risk Reduction Program, is to reprocess the hyperspectral OLR from the Cross-track Infrared Sounder (CrIS) aboard JPSS and also include other hyperspectral sensors towards the final construction of the new generation OLR data product.

OLR anomaly (W/m2) for the three 10-day periods starting at July 20 (top), July 30 (middle), and August 9, 2016 (bottom), derived from (left) the operational AVHRR and (right) IASI, respectively.
OLR anomaly (W/m2) for the three 10-day periods starting at July 20 (top), July 30 (middle), and August 9, 2016 (bottom), derived from (left) the operational AVHRR and (right) IASI, respectively.

EMC: Upgrades to HWRF model implemented successfully at NCEP Operations for the 2016 hurricane season
Environmental Modeling center (EMC) and NCEP Central Operations (NCO) are pleased to announce the successful operational implementation of the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecast (HWRF) model v10.0.3 for 2016 hurricane season effective with the July 12th, 2016 1200 UTC cycle.

The HWRF model runs on demand with input provided by the National Hurricane Center (NHC), Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC) or Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) providing specialized five-day forecast guidance for all global tropical cyclones through their life cycle, updated every six hours. HWRF consists of a pair of telescopic movable two way interactive high-resolution nested grids (6 km and 2 km respectively) embedded in a relocatable 18km parent domain that follow the projected path of a tropical system. Atmospheric component of the HWRF model is coupled to the Princeton Ocean Model (POM) developed by Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL)/University of Rhode Island (URI) using a sophisticated coupler developed at NCEP for providing accurate representation of air-sea interactions. An advanced vortex initialization scheme and NCEP GSI (Gridpoint Statistical Interpolation) with a high-resolution ensemble based HWRF Data Assimilation System (HDAS) provide means to represent the initial location, intensity, size and structure of the inner core of a hurricane and it’s largescale environment. The NCEP Global Forecast System (GFS) analysis and forecasts provide initial and boundary conditions for the HWRF model.

Changes for the 2016 release (H216) include an upgraded dynamic core from WRF3.6a to WRF3.7.1a; increased nested domain sizes and upgrade to new scale-aware SAS convection scheme for all domains; upgrades to data assimilation with more satellite observation data and turning on data assimilation for all storms in the East Pacific (EPAC) Basin. Other improvements include surface physics upgrades, use of Real Time Ocean Forecast System (ROTFS) data to initialize ocean for EPAC storms, extending ocean coupling to all Northern Hemisphere basins and one way coupling to the Hurricane wave model (WaveWatch-III).

Retrospective testing and evaluation of the H216 for 2012-2015 hurricane seasons with all of the above changes demonstrated improved tropical cyclone track, intensity and structure forecasts compared to 2015 operational HWRF (H215) in all global basins. These improvements ranged from a 5-10% increase in the Atlantic basin (see Figure 1) to more than 20% in others. Adoption of modern workflow methods and the above upgrades position HWRF to continue as the world’s best tropical cyclone operational system now and in the future.

2016 upgrade of HWRF marks 5th year in a row of demonstrating continuous improvements as measured through heterogeneous verification of multi-year retrospective runs.
2016 upgrade of HWRF marks 5th year in a row of demonstrating continuous improvements as measured through heterogeneous verification of multi-year retrospective runs.

NHC: 2016 NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour travels U.S Gulf Coastline
The 2016 NOAA Hurricane Awareness Tour (HAT) took to the skies over the U.S Gulf Coast, making five stops to raise awareness about the importance for preparing for the upcoming hurricane season.

This included an inland site – San Antonio, Texas – to highlight the inland impacts of a tropical cyclone. The remaining sites were Galveston, Tex.; New Orleans, La.; Mobile, Fla.; and Naples, Fla. NOAA’s G-IV aircraft accompanied a USAF Reserve WC-130J aircraft, displaying the cooperative efforts of both DOD and DOC.

The event was great success with more than 200 media interviews conducted over the span of the five-day tour. More than 4000 VIPS, media, members of the public and school children toured the aircraft. The HAT coincided, for the first time, with National Hurricane Preparedness Week. There were daily themes to provide concrete ways for the public to prepare, including a daily “five things” graphic and videos. The HAT also included the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH) #HurricaneStrong campaign, designed to reenergize and inspire hurricane readiness by increasing public awareness and action before the next storm strikes.

The HAT also provided a live school webinar at the Galveston stop, reaching nearly 10,000 fourth through sixth grade students in their classrooms. This new technology and social media will help us expand the reach of the HAT beyond the cities that we visit in the future.

Hundreds of people line up to tour the U.S. Air Force WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft during its stop in New Orleans, La.
Hundreds of people line up to tour the U.S. Air Force WC-130J hurricane hunter aircraft during its stop in New Orleans, La.

Photo credit: Dennis Feltgen, NOAA/NHC Communications

NHC: Media Day opens 2016 hurricane season
The annual “opening of hurricane season” media event was held at NHC on June 1. More than 50 media interviews were conducted throughout the day, and a press conference attracted 17 TV cameras and more than two dozen media outlets.

The press conference discussed the 2016 hurricane season and stressed the importance of knowing your hurricane evacuation zone, having a hurricane plan, and the usage of the new storm surge graphics. The speakers were U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23); Craig Fugate, administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency; Rick Knabb, Ph.D., director, NOAA National Hurricane Center; and Bryan Koon, director, State of Florida Emergency Management.

In addition, NHC did several live Periscope broadcasts. The first was conducted by Rick Knabb, who took viewers into the operations area and discussed what NHC was watching in the tropics that day. Another one featured storm surge team leader Jamie Rhome who described the new storm surge graphics. The press conference was also carried live via Periscope.

Multiple interviews taking place at the National Hurricane Center during its annual hurricane season media day.
Multiple interviews taking place at the National Hurricane Center during its annual hurricane season media day.

Photo credit: Dennis Feltgen, NOAA/NHC Communications

SPC: NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) 2016 GOES-R/JPSS Spring Experiment
The NOAA Storm Prediction Center, Norman Forecast Office, and the National Severe Storms Laboratory’s Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) in Norman, Oklahoma provides the GOES-R and JPSS Proving Ground with an opportunity to conduct pre-launch demonstrations of baseline, future capabilities and experimental products associated with the next generation GOES-R geostationary and JPSS polar satellite systems.

Many of these products have the potential to improve short-range hazardous weather nowcasting and forecasting. Feedback received from participants in the HWT has led to the continued modification and development of GOES-R and JPSS algorithm. Additionally, product developers have the opportunity to interact directly with operational forecasters and observe their recently developed GOES-R and JPSS algorithms being used alongside standard observational and forecast products in a simulated forecast setting. Finally, the education and training received by participants in the HWT helps to increase readiness for the use of GOES-R and JPSS data.

During the 2016 Spring Experiment, various GOES-R and JPSS proxy products and capabilities were demonstrated within the real-time, simulated warning operations environment of the Experimental Warning Program (EWP) using AWIPS-II. This experiment was conducted Monday-Friday during the weeks of April 18, April 25, May 2, and May 9, and participants included 12 visiting NWS forecasters and 4 broadcast meteorologists.

GOES-R products demonstrated in the 2016 EWP Spring Experiment included: GOES-Sounder derived all-sky TPW, LPW, and Derived Atmospheric Stability Indices using the GOES-R Legacy Atmospheric Profile algorithm from UW/CIMSS, UAH GOES-R Convective Initiation algorithm, UW/CIMSS Probability of Severe nowcast model, PGLM Total Lightning products from NASA/SPoRT and the Lightning Jump algorithm from NASA/SPoRT and CIMMS/NSSL. Additionally, GOES-14 1-min Super Rapid Scan Operations for GOES-R (SRSOR) imagery was available in the HWT for the full duration of the experiment, illustrating the very high frequency scanning capability of GOES-R. Parallax-corrected 1-min imagery and 10-min-updating atmospheric motion vectors were derived from the SRSOR data and also made available in AWIPS-II. GOES-14 1-min imagery was also utilized in the EFP and in Storm Prediction Center (SPC) operations. From the JPSS program, the NOAA Unique Combined Atmospheric Processing System (NUCAPS) temperature and moisture profiles from Suomi-NPP were demonstrated in AWIPS-II NSHARP.

Forecaster feedback was collected through the completion of daily surveys, daily discussions, and blog posts. The GOES-R HWT Blog allows participants to record their thoughts on the products during experimental operations (www. During the 2016 Spring Experiment, over 400 posts were made to the blog by participants with a variety of topics including mesoscale forecast updates, reasoning behind forecast/warning decisions, best practices, and ideas for product improvement. Feedback from the experiment will be reviewed and organized into a final report.

SWPC: NOAA’s First Deep-Space Observation Platform (DSCOVR) Becomes Operational July 27, 2016
On June 23, 2016, SWPC cleared its last major hurdle on the road to the operational implementation of the NOAA DSCOVR spacecraft.

At the Operations Readiness Review with NESDIS, all components of the DSCOVR spacecraft and ground acquisition & processing system were given the green light for operations.  At that point SWPC and the NWS issued congressional, press, and customer news releases announcing our intent to make DSCOVR operational (and in the process replace the NASA ACE spacecraft for operations) on July 27, 2016. The transition from ACE to DSCOVR took place at 1600 UT (noon EDT, 10am MDT) that day.

DSCOVR is the first NOAA mission fully devoted to Space Weather and the first NOAA mission to leave Earth orbit. Data from DSCOVR enable timely, accurate, and actionable geomagnetic storm warnings. These warnings help the power grid keep the lights on and allows airlines, GPS users, and satellite operators to efficiently adjust their operations to the effects of space weather.

DSCOVR improves upon the ACE mission in several ways. Most importantly, the real-time data from DSCOVR has significantly less noise than the real-time data from ACE. This has been shown to improve the accuracy of predictive models that use these data. Later this year, DSCOVR data will be used in a new forecast model, the Geospace Model. This model will enable SWPC to provide for the first time regional space weather forecasts and warnings.

SWPC: Space Weather Workshop Enters Eighteenth Year
The annual Space Weather Workshop was held on April 25-29, 2016 in Broomfield, Colorado. This year’s workshop fielded 322 attendees representing 18 different countries, setting the tone for an excellent week of discussion on space weather impacts, user needs and requirements, forecasting, and research and modeling developments.

This year’s Workshop set records with 57 presentations given over 12 sessions and 124 posters (including multiple e-posters) displayed throughout 4 poster sessions, more than any previous year. Pertinent and emerging matters in the space weather community were featured, including high profile national policy updates, domestic and international agency perspectives, government and private sector roles, space weather modeling and research, and impacts on specific industry sectors. The week also highlighted briefs from various federal agencies including OSTP (Office of Science and Technology Policy), NASA, NSF, NOAA, USGS (United States Geological Survey), and the 557th Weather Wing of the U.S. Air Force.

Prior to the official Tuesday SWW kick-off, side meetings are typically convened to focus on various topics of interest. This year included an update on the implementation of the National Space Weather Action Plan, a session on Economic and Operational Impacts, a working meeting on the Harmonization of Solar Energetic Particle Data Calibration, and a meeting dedicated to the sustained effort to develop a NOAA ionospheric space weather scale.

Tuesday’s official SWW commencement energized the crowd of space weather enthusiasts with a refreshing new venue and audio visual high points. Following an introduction by SWPC Director, Dr. Thomas Berger, the agenda rolled right into a featured a session on White House Space Weather Activities. Attendees were immediately dazzled by a live talk from the White House Situation Room featuring Senior Analyst, Jason Novick. The session also included talks highlighting the National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan, the public release of U.S. Government Satellite Space Weather Data, and White House Military Office space weather perspectives.

Traditionally, SWW places emphasis on space weather customers and user impacts and this year was no different. Speakers representing the Aviation, GPS, and Power Grid industries provided intriguing perspectives on the effects of space weather, as well as, current and potential impacts from significant storming events. As in prior years, the collective sentiment among these user impact talks centered on the need to maintain a laser focus on research effort, operations, and space weather impact mitigation.

The Commercial Space Weather Interest Group (CSWIG) presented their annual Roundtable Session, featuring former United States Commandant of the Coast Guard, Admiral Thad Allen. The panel underlined the importance of commercial and government collaboration, especially in the midst of significant national emergency response efforts. Panel speakers punctuated the need for evolving partnerships, commercial capabilities, as well as funding challenges that are coexist with the expanding commercial sector role in the Nation’s Space Weather Program.

A first for SWW was a session featuring Space Weather and the Arctic: Challenges and Opportunities. With the inevitable rise in commerce and traffic as Arctic sea ice wanes, research and exploration is progressing. Speakers provided insightful talks on possible space weather effects with respect to industries relying on such technology and the importance of understanding Space Weather effects at these higher latitudes.

A notable uptick in student participation was noticed this year thanks to the re-introduction of the Student Support Program. Aimed at students pursuing degrees and careers in the space weather sciences, a total of 26 students received travel support and experienced the week-long event. SWW was again proud to feature participation from high school space weather enthusiasts representing the Earth to Sky Calculus Club in Bishop, California.

The Space Weather Workshop proves to be unique in bringing together all the elements of the space weather community, providing an end-to-end view of the space weather enterprise and serving to strengthen and foster relationships and partnerships across agencies, academia, and the private sector.

Credit: Will Von Dauster

WPC Host Workshop to Strengthen NWS Precipitation Forecast Collaboration
Numerous service assessments, reports, and stakeholder feedback have emphasized the need for consistent, accurate, and understandable information during high-impact precipitation events, such as floods and snowstorms.

The field has accomplished unprecedented collaboration of precipitation forecasts this past year. To further strengthen the NWS collaborative forecast process, the WPC hosted a two-day workshop, May 18-19, with meteorologists from four of the six NWS Regional Operations Centers, as well as staff from the National Operations Center, and forecasters from WPC. The focus of the workshop was on internal NWS forecast collaboration for precipitation and building relationships across the integrated field structure. During the first day of the workshop, participants shared their operating practices and discussed successes and challenges experienced over the past year. A highlight for many was training in facilitation conducted by Connie Doyle, a Senior Human Capital Advisor with Management Concepts. The training emphasized that facilitating discussion of conflicting opinions is difficult work, but can be accomplished through facilitation approaches that ensures robust discussion while driving towards a decision.

On the second day, participants shadowed the WPC forecasters and forecast desks (photo below), reviewed upcoming improvements in virtual meeting and collaboration tools, including the new AWIPS II white board capability, and participated in an informal Q&A session with NWS Director, Dr. Louis Uccellini. In the session Dr. Uccellini emphasized the tremendous progress that has been made while also challenged the group to further advance the fully integrated field structure through collaboration.

Recommendations coming out of this first-ever precipitation collaboration workshop are being developed, and will focus on building the NWS common operating picture and enhancing messaging for significant events. In summarizing the outcomes of the workshop, Dr. David Novak, WPC Director, commented, “All components of the integrated field structure are critical to accurate, consistent, and understandable forecasts. This workshop built the relationships necessary to take precipitation collaboration to a new level.”

WPC forecasters and representatives from the ROCs discuss operations at the Winter Weather Desk. Pictured from left to right [Bruce Sullivan – standing, Frank Pereira (sitting), Brian Hurley, David Manning (ER-ROC), Chris (CR-ROC), Leslie Wanek (WR-ROC), Jennifer McNatt (SR-ROC), and Mike Musher].
WPC forecasters and representatives from the ROCs discuss operations at the Winter Weather Desk. Pictured from left to right [Bruce Sullivan – standing, Frank Pereira (sitting), Brian Hurley, David Manning (ER-ROC), Chris (CR-ROC), Leslie Wanek (WR-ROC), Jennifer McNatt (SR-ROC), and Mike Musher].

WPC: 2016 Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall Experiment
The Hydrometeorology Testbed held its 4th annual 4-week Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall (FFaIR) Experiment from June 20 through July 22, 2016.

The experiment brought together over 30 participants and observers from NWS field offices, River Forecast Centers, the Storm Prediction Center, the Office of Water Prediction (OWP), the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC), as well as various academic and research institutions. A major theme of the 2016 FFaIR Experiment was to expand the hydrologic forecasting toolbox beyond Flash Flood Guidance, including model guidance such as soil saturation at various depths, streamflow anomalies, runoff, and QPF exceeding annual recurrence intervals.

Each week a new group of participants were paired with a WPC forecaster to utilize new, experimental, probabilistic and deterministic guidance in creating flash flood forecasts as well as subjectively evaluating the performance of the new guidance and forecasts. An experimental version of the High Resolution Ensemble Forecast from EMC as well as the latest experimental version of the High Resolution Rapid Refresh model provided by the Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL) are a couple examples of the new guidance utilized during FFaIR. Also, for the first time, the National Water Model from OWP was used and evaluated.

Each day participants would create a nationwide Excessive Rainfall Outlook (ERO) for the Day 1 period in the morning and a second ERO for the Day 2 period in the afternoon, as well as a shorter term Probability of Flash Flooding forecast that was valid each day from 18-00Z. All three products outlooked the probability of flash flooding within 40 km of a point. Equally important as the forecasts produced each day, participants would then subjectively evaluate the same forecasts the next day as well as the experimental guidance that went into creating them through a series of science questions.

Overall, the 2016 FFaIR Experiment was a resounding success. Participants each week faced different challenges when creating their forecasts, some of which included the significant flooding events such as the historic West Virginia floods during the first week (June 23-24), flash flooding in Las Vegas (June 30-July 1), as well as flooding in Minnesota (July 11-12). A final report of all the findings and results of the 2016 FFaIR Experiment is forthcoming.

Interactions and activities of the 2016 Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall Experiment
Interactions and activities of the 2016 Flash Flood and Intense Rainfall Experiment