This is an especially difficult transition because we are moving to a new operating system and architecture at two new locations. We must maintain the current system, transition with no lapse in service and the move should be essentially transparent to our customers/partners. The transition is currently ahead of schedule as we continue to move forward at a rapid pace and hope to beat the planned implementation date by as much as two months. During this period, all of our operational models and data acquisition systems were installed in the new environment and a preliminary evaluation of the output was performed. There are still some unresolved failures, the output needs to be further evaluated and tuning to meet specific timing requirements still needs to be performed. However, the time period remaining should be more than enough to complete these tasks and implement the WCOSS sooner than originally planned.
NCO's IDP Infrastructure Project will implement a robust, secure, and commonly shared dissemination infrastructure, building both a primary and backup dissemination infrastructure at geographically diverse locations. The following data centers will be leveraged: NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction, College Park, MD (Primary IDP site), and David Skaggs Research Center (DSRC), Boulder, CO (Backup IDP site). This infrastructure will provide for aggregation and consolidation of dissemination functions to enable common shared services and gain cost-efficiencies. The following will be consolidated in the short-term on this infrastructure: NextGen Prototype, National Weather Service Telecommunication Gateway applications, NCEP Model Analysis and Guidance (MAG) output, Unidata's CONDUIT project, the NOAA National Operational Model Archive & Distribution System (NOMADS), and FTPPRD.
The February 11-22, 2013 experiment took place in a simulated forecast environment in which forecasters were asked to produce forecasts with the aid of several new products. Their feedback was then gathered via in-person discussions and post-experiment online surveys. Other activities included joint weather briefings with the NCEP Weather Prediction Center and brown-bag lunch presentations on a variety of topics including accident investigations, use of AWC products in flight briefings, new research, and technology transfer.
Internal participants included fifteen full-time operational AWC forecasters, six fill-in forecasters from the AWC's Aviation Support Branch, and five managers. External guest participants included scientists and engineers from the National Transportation Safety Board, Lockheed Martin Flight Services, the Air Force Weather Agency, NASA Langley Research Center, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the NOAA NextGen Weather Program, the NOAA Earth Systems Research Laboratory, the GOES-R Program Office, and the National Weather Service Central Region Headquarters.
While the results are still being assessed, preliminary feedback suggests the AWT Winter Experiment was a tremendous success and will undoubtedly lead to improved products and services.
For more information on the AWT Winter Experiment please visit https://testbed.aviationweather.gov/page/public?name=2013_Winter_Experiment.
The theme for the 24th Annual International Women in Aviation Conference was "Setting the Stage for Your Success". The conference was attended by 3,375 registered people representing 14 countries. Nigeria, Canada and Ghana had the largest number of international participants at the event.
Eighty scholarships totally $497,575 were awarded to student and professional members seeking aviation training and certifications. A FedEx 727 aircraft was donated to California Baptist University, Riverside, CA in support of their aviation program. Aviation Weather Center Director, Bob Maxson said, "There's such a sense of optimism and teamwork made by all the participants. We appreciate the ability to involve the Local Weather Forecast Office and associated Center Weather Service Unit to showcase the contribution the National Weather Service makes in promoting flight safety and efficiency throughout the United States and the world."
Unique to this year's conference was the interview activity for commercial pilots in hope of landing an airline job with an exhibiting airline. Most major carriers have pilots reaching mandatory retirement age soon, creating significant job opportunity in the industry.
Exhibitors at the conference represented 114 different groups including the military, educational institutions, commercial aviation industries, aviation organizations, and public and federal agencies. Attendees shared their appreciation for the service and the mission of the NWS. There were many questions about NWS products and services answered. During Saturday's "Bring your Daughter to Conference" day one visitor shared how she would like to be a meteorologist someday and she was encouraged to meet female meteorologists.
The modifications to the DOs, particularly the MDO, were possible due to the improved skills of short- to medium-term forecasts (e.g. 6-10 day, 8-14 day, week 3) and dynamical models (e.g. NMME, CFSv2, etc.), and also to be more responsive to user needs, given the knowledge that droughts can develop and intensify on time scales shorter than 3-months, such as the 2012 Midwest Flash Drought. By producing a MDO at the end of each month instead of an updated SDO, benefits will be realized for short-term agricultural purposes, especially during the growing season. Lastly, this new DO schedule mirrors the release of CPC's 1- and 3-month Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks.
Changes were also made to the drought outlook categories. For the DOs, drought is defined as D1 or worse (based upon the U.S. Drought Monitor (USDM) categories of D0 - abnormally dry, to D4 - exceptional drought). Since the category of Some Improvement could be interpreted as either improvement or persistence (or a buffer zone between Persistence and Improvement) and therefore not scored in the verification of the SDO, it was replaced with either Persistence, Improvement, or Removal. The new Removal category implies that drought (D1 or worse) will end (D0 or none) by the last day of the outlook period. The modified Improvement category implies at least a one category improvement in the USDM levels by the end of the period although drought still remains. The Persistence and Development categories remain unchanged.
Verification and skill scores of the DOs will be made available on the CPC web page in the near future. The old initial and updated SDOs have been verified using objective GIS techniques since late 2009. The current SDO (either initial or updated) and additional SDO information are available on the CPC web page to: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/expert_assessment/seasonal_drought.html
Weather safety is always a prime focus and was again at this year's conference. Traditional sailing vessels or tall ships are very weather sensitive and have relatively slow transit speeds. They take time to prepare for threatening conditions by reducing sail, changing heading, or running for safe harbor. Without advanced warning and proper preparation and action, these vessels can become dangerous and vulnerable in rapidly increasing winds and seas. As education is their principal mission, typically, their precious cargoes are students of high school through college age.
Unfortunately on Oct 29, 2012, this community lost one of their own, the tall ship Bounty, when it capsized and sank while heading south from Connecticut to Florida in Hurricane Sandy. The Captain and one crew member were lost and 14 others were rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).
Joe Sienkiewicz of the Ocean Prediction Center was invited by Tall Ships America to give two presentations. The first was an introductory lesson to marine weather and designed to be a tutorial and refresher for junior officers. Joe's second talk was entitled "Dissecting Super Storm Sandy" and discussed the forecasts, evolution, NWS warning decisions, and impacts of Sandy. This session was presented to the full conference with approximately 150 experienced sailors in attendance. Joe used a framework of slides presented by NWS Director Dr. Louis Uccellini, Weather Prediction Center (WPC) Branch Chief, Dr. David Novak, and National Hurricane Center (NHC) Director Dr. Richard Knabb at a Town Hall Meeting at the 2013 AMS Annual Meeting. He also added loops and images to illustrate points and used them as an educational opportunity. Four survivors from the Bounty were present along with three USCG air crew members who participated in the rescue of the Bounty crew. Several captains and waterfront directors from facilities and vessels significantly impacted by Sandy such as the US Coast Guard Academy, Mystic Seaport, South Street Seaport in lower Manhattan, US Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, NY, and the sailing vessels Lynx and Pioneer were in attendance.
The complex evolution of Sandy and large scale flow features were illustrated and explained using a 500 mb height and vorticity time series. Key features that helped to determine the track of Sandy were highlighted and tracked as they interacted and phased together. As Sandy tracked northward it began to acquire non-tropical characteristics and developed front-like features. Sandy grew in diameter while maintaining a hurricane inner core. Joe highlighted this by discussing the differences and similarities between mature extra-tropical (non-tropical) and tropical cyclones to illustrate the hybrid nature of Sandy. Joe used satellite scatterometer wind fields to emphasize those points. He also walked through the WPC medium range series of forecasts valid 1200 UTC 29 Oct, NHC track and wind field probability graphics, and OPC graphical forecasts. These products highlighted the forecast process, the high level of NWS internal collaboration, and successful communication of a unified message of a very dangerous threat to the western Atlantic and East Coast of the United States.
This was a great opportunity to represent NOAA/NWS and to engage a very knowledgeable and appreciative group of users of NOAA products. Tall Ships America realizes how important weather information is to its members and was very kind to provide support for NWS/OPC participation.
Workshop participants had a very full schedule that took full advantage of the new NOAA Center for Weather and Climate Prediction conference center, facilities, and NOAA expertise at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The first workshop began with a short "Meteorology 101" course to set the stage for the events to follow. OPC"s Ocean Forecast Branch Chief, Anthony Siebers, presented an overview of NCEP as an organization and prepped the group to participate in the Weather Prediction Center"s (WPC) map discussion; they learned about atmospheric forecast models, the fundamentals of ensembles, and other key concepts to be discussed by WPC forecasters. After receiving a warm welcome from NCEP Director Dr. Louis Uccellini and attending the WPC map discussion in the building's media center, the group toured the 4th floor operations area, interacting with the NESDIS Satellite Applications Branch, WPC, and OPC forecasters. The afternoon continued with hands-on activities that made the educators think like weather observers and operational meteorologists by conducting outdoor measurements and running through NWS Southern Region's "Hot Seat" simulations.
The second session switched its focus from meteorology and weather prediction to community and Chesapeake Bay weather and climate impacts. Chris Strager had the opportunity to brief the group about the Weather Ready Nation initiative and discussed how the plan is being implemented in the Chesapeake region. Derek Arndt of the National Climatic Data Center was able to join remotely via the conference center.s VTC capabilities to speak to the educators about the connection between climate and weather extremes. Rounding out the discussion on climate and weather preparedness, Chris Brown from NESDIS spoke about efforts to expand ecological forecasting.
In addition to learning about NCEP operations, Weather-Ready Nation, and meteorology in general, an emphasis was placed on using the tools already in place and publicly-available to obtain weather information and decision-making products. The ESTC leaders also introduced techniques and ideas for integrating weather and climatology into educational programming, which included a group discussion and brainstorming session. The Weather-Ready Chesapeake workshop series was an excellent example of intra-agency cooperation between local offices and an effective outreach opportunity for NCEP.
The SPC has also unveiled a tornado environment dynamic webpage browser for the contiguous United States (CONUS). The new browser is available on the SPC's website, http://www.spc.noaa.gov/exper/envbrowser/. A tornado environment.convective mode sample spanning the 2003-2011 period displays statistical information of supercell-related convective parameters accompanied by smoothed tornadic convective mode climatology images. Through a collaborative effort between SPC forecasters, SPC techniques development meteorologists, a NSSL scientist, and a graduate student with the University of Oklahoma, this specific work is an example of a Research-to-Operations (R2O) web-based tool. This tool has multiple applications that can serve to enhance severe storm training material, provide a climatological reference to forecasters in a real-time situational awareness warning situation (via decision support) and in a post-mortem setting, and act as a mechanism to further outreach to the severe storms community.
First Tornado.......................................8:45 AM CST, 9-Jan (EF0-TX) Last Tornado........................................5:00 PM EST, 26-Dec (EF1-NC) 2012 Total Tornadoes................................936 (Ranked 25th since 1950) Record Annual Total.................................1817 in 2004 Greatest 2012 Monthly Total.........................206 in April Greatest Monthly Total on Record....................759 in April 2011 2012 Tornado Days...................................170 Annual Average......................................178 (50-years, 1962-2011) Record Tornado Days in Any Year.....................211 in 2000 Greatest 2012 Daily Total (Mid-Mid CST).............86 on 14-Apr Greatest Daily Total on Record......................200 on 27-Apr-2011 States Reporting Tornadoes in 2012..................46 Annual Average Number of States.....................43 (50-years, 1962-2011) Most States Reporting Tornadoes in Any Year.........48 (2011 and 1989) 2012 Tornado Deaths.................................68 (Ranked 25th since 1950) Annual Average Tornado Deaths.......................91 (62-years, 1950-2011) 2011 Tornado Deaths.................................553 (Ranked 2nd in History) Greatest Annual Number of Tornado Deaths............794 (1925) 2012 Tornado Injuries...............................829 (Ranked 43rd since 1950) Greatest Annual Number of Injuries..................6824 in 1974 2012 Deadliest Single Tornado.......................Henryville, IN (11, 2-Mar) Record Deadliest Single Tornado (modern era)........Joplin, MO, 158, 22-May-2011 2012 Longest Track..................................85 miles (KY-WV, 2-Mar) Record Longest Track................................235 miles (LA-MS, 22-Mar-1953) 2012 Tornadoes Rated EF4............................4 (Fewest since 2 in 2009) Record Annual Number................................36 in 1974 2012 Tornadoes Rated EF5 (200+mph)..................0 (Fewest since 0 in 2010) Record Annual Number of EF5 Tornadoes...............7 in 1974 2012 Estimated Property and Crop Losses.............~1.6 billion USD 2011 Estimated Property and Crop Losses.............~10.0 billion USD (Ranked 1st) Greatest Losses from Single Tornado.................~2.8 billion USD (Joplin, MO)The 2012 year end review of U.S. Tornadoes was compiled by SPC WCM Greg Carbin. For additional information, you may find the complete statistical document at www.spc.noaa.gov/wcm.
The Forecast Discussion product complements the 3-Day Forecast and describes the observations, model output, and scientific reasoning underpinning the forecasts. This provides our customers with the background reasoning that helped to formulate the forecast and also provides insight to our forecast process. Additionally, the Forecast Discussion provides forecasters an opportunity to express their confidence in the forecasts and to describe potential alternate outcomes.
These two new products represent a progression towards improved space weather products and services, delivering information at the appropriate level to meet the sophistication of the respective users. The products also reflect a move towards consistency with the terrestrial meteorological products available to the general public. Thus, while space weather remains an evolving and sometimes difficult to translate field, incremental steps are being taken to make space weather more tangible and easier to understand.
These two new products are available in the Data and Products section of the SWPC website at http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/latest/three_day_forecast.txt and http://www.swpc.noaa.gov/ftpdir/latest/forecast_discussion.txt. Users can also subscribe to these products in the Product Subscription Service under the Forecasts and Summaries product category (https://pss.swpc.noaa.gov).
These two products will supplement the existing product suite and no current products will be discontinued at this time.
It was recognized by NERC that severe GMD events present risks and vulnerabilities that are not fully addressed in conventional bulk power system planning, design, and operating processes. The Geomagnetic Disturbance Task Force (GMDTF) is investigating bulk power system reliability implications of these risks and developing solutions to help mitigate this risk.
Many of the GMDTF engineers are focusing on engineering solutions and system vulnerability modeling assessments. Others work closely with the space weather community in understanding the geomagnetic storm threat and appropriate response procedures. SWPC staff is coordinating new GMD warning dissemination procedures. SWPC is also working closely with USGS and NASA on an electric field product, specifying regionally where the greatest threat for GMD induced currents (GIC) may occur. To fully understand the flow of GIC in the bulk power system, we must understand how the geoelectric field responds to a GMD. This geophysical response depends largely on the conductivity structure of Earth. Consequently, SWPC has partnered with USGS who are working on ground conductivity models. Electric-field model output is critical input for power system vulnerability models.
SWPC is also working with industry and partner agencies to understand the appropriate quantity, spatial distribution, and location of magnetometers necessary to support E-field calculations. And to support validation of models, the group is addressing what measurements and data are openly available to the space weather community for geomagnetic storm analysis and operational assessment. This critical public-private collaborative effort is an important step in building our Nation's readiness, responsiveness, and resilience to severe geomagnetic storms.
SIB continues to evaluate and implement additional SWPC data decoding and display requirements for re-implementation onto AWIPS2. In the coming months we will be delivering decoders for high-cadence observed data such as magnetometer, as well as various specialized display techniques.
During the experiment, participants issued short-term 24-hour probabilistic snowfall forecasts using a combination of experimental and operational model guidance. The experimental guidance included two 10-member ensembles provided by the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) and a weighted mean from the operational Short-Range Ensemble Forecast system (SREF). In addition to these experimental ensembles, the experiment featured a new snowfall accumulation technique that uses information from the North American Model's (NAM) microphysics scheme to refine the model snowfall forecast. Participants found the parameters used in this calculation provided valuable forecast information. As a result, HMT-WPC is working with the Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) to expand this methodology to other models.
In addition to the short-term probabilistic snowfall forecasts, participants also issued experimental Day 4-5 winter weather outlook forecasts. Despite the challenges associated with forecasting winter weather at these longer time ranges, participants were generally able to provide valuable forecast guidance. As a result, WPC is investigating expanding its operational winter weather product suite to include such outlooks.
Another important aspect of this year's Winter Weather Experiment was exploring how to communicate uncertainty in winter weather forecasts more effectively. Participants prepared a public forecast graphic highlighting the anticipated winter weather hazards, and then used this graphic to conduct a mock decision support briefing for a regional emergency management group. Feedback from the Weather for Emergency Management Decision Support (WxEM) team participating in this mock briefing emphasized the importance of organizing the briefing so that the most important forecast information appears first.
The HMT-WPC Winter Weather Experiment provided a valuable opportunity to foster collaboration between the forecast, research, and model development communities. A number of the experiment.s results continue to be explored through collaboration with EMC and other partners. A complete report summarizing the experiment activities and results is available here.
On March 5, WPC Director Jim Hoke hosted U.S. Congressman Chaka Fattah of Pennsylvania to WPC operations in the NCWCP. In meeting with the congressman, Hoke and John Sokich of the NWS Strategic Planning and Policy Office focused on the importance of NWS forecasts to people.s safety and well-being. The NWS is the primary source of weather information for the public, private, and academic sectors across the country and works around the clock every day of the year to serve in this role. Hoke and Sokich emphasized the importance of satellite, radar, surface-based, and other types of observations to accurate weather forecasting.
The day after Rep. Fattah visited NCWCP, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported Rep. Fattah stated the NWS has a key ally in Congress - namely, him. In fact, Rep. Fattah returned to NCWCP just three weeks later on March 27 to gain more understanding about the details of NWS activities. During this second visit, NWS Director Louis Uccellini briefed Rep. Fattah on some of these operational details prior to an in-depth tour of the WPC operations area.
On March 25, staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology visited the NCWCP. During the WPC portion of the tour, the staffers engaged WPC staff with many questions about the details of the WPC role in support of the NOAA and NWS missions. Direct interaction with national decision makers, such as that which occurred during the recent visits, is critical in providing awareness for the broad and life-saving NWS mission.