This two day meeting was held to kick-start continued collaboration and sharing between the AWC and the two Canadian aviation weather centers. Each center gave an overview of their current operational and experimental states. It was surprising how similar the centers are in operations and challenges. However, while many similarities exist, there are enough differences that each country can learn much from the experiences of the other. For example, Canada has just completed an overhaul of their aviation weather products to ensure they conform to the international standards of the International Civil Aviation Organization. Also, the CMACs have been operating an ISO 9001-certified Quality Management System for several years. The lessons learned from these experiences are benefit the AWC as the United States is investigating moving weather products toward the international standards. The AWC just earned ISO 9001 certification for its Quality Management System late last year and this partnership will help AWC refine and maintain that certification with the goal of continually improving aviation weather products and services in support of safe and efficient flight.
In addition to the topics above, the meetings covered a broad spectrum of discussions on aviation policy, technical development efforts such as numeric modeling and ensemble forecasts, probabilistic forecasting, the FAA's Next Generation Air Transportation System (NextGen), verification, and many other topics. Of immediate concern is coordinating the transition from U.S. products to Canadian products at the border; and making them easier and consistent for pilots to access and understand.
Several Aviation Weather Center (AWC) staff participated in the planning and execution of workshop. Shari Mutchler, AWC Senior Forecaster and Diversity focal point, assisted in planning the workshop. Shari also facilitated the breakout session, "Human Beings/Doings."
Dave Rowell from the National Weather Service Training Center and vice chair of the NWS Diversity Council, opened the workshop by welcoming guests and participants. The workshop included panel discussions on gender traits/trends, mentoring, family issues, diverse workforce recruitment/retention, diversity management and EEO, diverse teams, and servicing diverse customers. In addition to the panel discussions, several breakout sessions provided interaction among the participants.
Teri Schwein (NWS), Teresa Murphy (NWS), and Doug Kluck (NOAA) each spoke briefly about how some of the breakout topics affected them personally before the participants began the first of three sessions. Breakout session topics included: building diverse teams, mentoring, celebrating diversity, work and family issues, gender trends and traits, and outreach to diverse customers. Sky Young-Wick (retired NWS) and Mike Hudson (NWS) facilitated the final activity of the day, a session on building an inclusive environment, which brought everyone back together for a sharing of lessons learned from the breakout sessions.
NWS Diversity Council Vice Chair, Dave Rowell summed up by saying, "Everyone said it [the workshop] was valuable. The 'open discussion' format allowed everyone to participate at their own level of comfort." Many participants expressed their hope that this would become an annual event.
The objectives of the 5ITWCVP and GSCVPS were to: (1) assess the mastery of climate prediction techniques by participants from the four previous workshops and some former African Desk trainees; (2) reinforce some of the concepts taught in previous workshops; (3) introduce new concepts such as verifications; (4) discuss ideas that will help develop a strategy for future training workshops; and (5) provide trainees with insights on recent advances in climate science and applications in various socio-economic sectors. A total of thirty-three countries from Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Central America, Europe, and South America were represented at the workshop and symposium. There were thirty-five participants from 27 countries. Twenty-three lecturers, drawn from various government and international agencies as well as academic institutions, including the Korean Meteorological Administration (KMA), the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), IRI, NOAA, USAID, WMO, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology (IITM), the Institut National des Sciences et Technologie de la Mer in Tunisia, the Istanbul Technical University, the University of Buenos Aires, the University of Colorado, and the University of Nairobi, contributed a combined 33 lectures during the workshop and symposium. The participants had an opportunity to run several prediction experiments and work on forecast verification exercises for a cumulative twenty-two hour lab during the hands-on training in the first week.
There were several recommendations that the organizing committee will consider when developing a strategy for future training workshops. The general consensus to be evaluated by the committee was to bring back the same group of trainees for next year.s workshop to close some of the gaps identified by the trainees themselves as a priority for training. These include but were not limited to subseasonal forecasting, forecast verification, climate monitoring tools, and GIS applications.
As part of the event, several members of Congress came to NHC for a press conference to stress hurricane preparation. In addition to Fugate and Knabb, remarks were provided by U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, U.S. Representatives Debbie Wasserman Shultz and Joe Garcia, as well as WFO Miami MIC Pablo Santos.
A dozen television cameras filled the media room for the press event along with several print and radio outlets. Each outlet carried a strong message back to their respective viewers, listeners and readers - get ready, the season is here.
Whether or not Floridians can escape again this year remains to be seen. But the message at the 27th annual (Florida) Governor Hurricane Conference remained the same -- prepare as if the luck will run out.
NOAA's National Hurricane Center Director Dr. Rick Knabb and several NHC hurricane specialists were in attendance at the May gathering in Ft. Lauderdale, conducting workshops and training sessions. Attendees include NOAA personnel, emergency managers, and state and local decision makers. Knabb provided the keynote address at the opening general session, discussing the 2012 season and the 2013 hurricane program. More than three dozen media interviews were provided as well.
In the span of just one hour, 45 questions were answered - an all-time record for a NOAA Tweet Chat. Another one is planned for early August, just before the peak of the hurricane season.
While this is a multi-year effort, the first major project milestone was met at the end of June, 2013 with the submission of a package of documents to the WMO Expert Team on Maritime Safety Services (ETMSS). The package included a draft feature catalogue, which defines the different meteorological and oceanographic features (objects) and their attributes that may be potentially plotted in this format. Weather features such as fronts, watch and warning hazard areas, tropical storm symbols and low pressure symbols are defined so that they can be integrated into weather displays in the ECDIS.
In the future, OPC plans to help the expert team apply for an official registry for the maritime weather feature catalogue. OPC will make changes to the standards based on the comments and feedback from the international community. The Brazilian Government is funding a scientific program to establish exchanges with other countries to develop new technologies called "Science without Borders". The Brazilians have requested that OPC hosts a visiting scientist from the Brazilian Navy to work with ECDIS development. The final approved meteorological and oceanographic feature catalogue, product specification, and other associated documents are expected to be completed by April 2014.
Prior to May 1, 2013 the Offshore Forecasts were manually typed to produce a 5 day forecast for each of the offshore zone areas. OPC meteorologists no longer need to manually type long text-based Offshore Waters forecasts (http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/shtml/NFDOFFNT1.shtml). Forecasters import digital computer model data into the Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE). The forecasters interactively manipulate the digital data for each forecast element or grid using advanced tools and techniques within the GFE.
Each point on a grid represents a separate place and time in the forecast period. Using the GFE, forecasters assign a value to every grid point for each different weather element, and for each time in the forecast period. The weather elements include wind speed and direction, wind gusts, significant wave heights and warning hazards. Warning hazards include gale (34 kt), storm force (50 kt) and hurricane force (64 kt) winds. Each forecast point has a resolution of 5 km, giving a much more detailed description of the warning hazard area than was previously available.
With GFE, forecasters use an interactive process to prepare their forecasts, storing meteorological fields in a common digital database. The database becomes part of the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD), with the database itself offered as an NWS product. The digital database increases detail in both time and space, provides a greater amount of forecast information, and has the flexibility from which to create a wide range of customized text, graphical and image products. Text generation formatters are run to produce the traditional forecast text for the offshore waters forecasts.
Collaboration with neighboring marine forecast offices is also improved since forecasters can compare their grids to those of surrounding offices. This encourages more coordination between forecast offices and also helps make the forecast more consistent by minimizing "seams" across different forecast office boundaries.
Future plans are to expand the gridded data into the high seas forecast domain.
The primary goals of the HWT are to accelerate the transfer of promising new tools from research to operations, to inspire new initiatives for operationally relevant research, and to identify and document sensitivities and the performance of state-of-the-art (3 to 4 km grid-spacing) experimental convection-allowing modeling systems (CAMs).
The 2013 Spring Forecast Experiment (SFE) was held from May 6th through June 7th in the HWT facility at the National Weather Center in Norman. More than 40 forecasters and research scientists from government agencies and the private sector, and faculty/students from 6 universities participated in the SFE activities. A prime research to operations focus was the development and evaluation of new guidance and visualization tools to support issuance of updated high temporal resolution probabilistic forecasts of severe convective weather. Cutting edge data mining from multiple storm-scale ensemble prediction systems and a new mesoscale ensemble system utilizing state-of-the-art advanced EnKF data assimilation was utilized. In addition, international partners included the United Kingdom Meteorological Office which provided special daily 4 km and 2 km versions of their Unified Model convective storm forecasts for assessment and comparison with U.S. models. A summary report of SFE results will be completed this summer.
(Permission granted for use in the on-line NCEP Newsletter)
On May 26, a group of 10 representatives from the SPC and Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Norman met with President Obama at Tinker Air Force Base on the tarmac near Air Force One as he prepared to depart from Oklahoma. He expressed his sincere thanks for the service our organizations perform for the Nation each day, how important the warnings we provide are for the public, and indicated that he was working to get the resources needed to continue our important work. We also spoke with Ahsha Tribble who works in the White House where she prepares briefings for the President on weather-related situations, including those prior to the Moore tornado. Using briefing materials provided by the SPC and WFO Norman, Ahsha spent much of the plane ride to Oklahoma briefing the President and his staff on how the NWS functions, and in particular the roles and partnership between the SPC and local forecast offices. Ahsha was effusive in her praise for our services, and believes the visit was incredibly important for the President's understanding of the NWS forecast services. Also on the tarmac was Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Administrator Craig Fugate.
The workshop began with a strong focus on power grid impacts. Personnel from NOAA, NASA, and USGS engaged several power utility representatives to discuss ways to improve space weather products and services in support of bulk power system reliability. Key discussion items included: integrating the geophysics-based models with the power system models; understanding the quantity and spatial distribution of magnetometers necessary to support E-field calculations; and what measurements are openly available to the space weather community from the utility companies. Information was provided to help SWPC staff focus support efforts. This year.s workshop also featured a session on communicating operational needs to the research community. SWPC representatives, joined by various user groups (aviation, GPS, and power grid), provided the research community with details on how forecasts are developed, while user groups explained actions when forecasts and warnings are received. Gaps in forecast capability and user needs were emphasized to help direct research activities.
Another of the week.s highlights was a large panel of international partners sharing details of their respective country.s alerting and notification process during an extreme space weather scenario. In recognition of the global nature of the space weather threat, the U.S. State Department led a discussion on appropriate international collaboration during extreme space weather to ensure consistency in communication to government leadership.
By all accounts the workshop accomplished a key underlying goal to better understand what information (observations, models, climatology, nowcasts, predictions, etc.) is needed to mitigate or manage space impacts and what research is being done, or should be done to provide the needed information.
AWIPS II OB13.3 display capabilities include basic image adjustments, synchronized movie looping and latitude-longitude grid overlays for two solar mapping conventions. SWPC has worked closely with the Systems Integration Branch of NCEP Central Operations so that the software could be developed to meet SWPC's needs.
SWPC forecasters use these observations to understand the current and evolving state of the Sun from its surface magnetic fields to its outermost atmosphere, the corona. The solar surface observations, made from ground- and space-based telescopes tell forecasters about longer term evolving conditions of the sun and allow for the creation of probabilistic forecasts for eruptive events. The corona observations allow forecasters to see the solar-wind streaming away from the sun in real-time, which will arrive one to three days later at Earth. In addition SWPC uses data from spacecraft at other points on Earth's orbit around to give both three dimensional perspectives of solar storms as well as global coverage of the Sun's atmosphere.
SWPC uses data from observing systems belonging to NOAA, NASA, NSF, DoD and international partners. Each system has different observing parameters and data formats. The solar image data pipeline and AWIPS II system serves to consolidate the diverse set of data sources used by SWPC currently into a single, well integrated system. It will lead to the eventual removal of legacy software that supports current custom displays at SWPC.
With the upcoming introduction of OB13.4, the user interface will reach its final form and additional display capabilities will be realized. At that time, forecasters will begin to use the AWIPS II system in parallel to the existing, custom display system. This will allow forecasters to provide feedback for the continued refinement of the functionality.
This product was initiated in response to a request for NCEP to provide a product similar to SPC's MDs but focused on heavy rainfall. The goal of the product is to enhance NWS flash flood warning services by providing enhanced situational awareness of potential flash flood events. Like the SPC MDs, WPC's MPDs are event-driven and focus on events impacting an area approximately the size of half the state of Kansas.
In order to initiate this product within current forecaster resources we combined responsibility for this MPD with the Model Diagnostic Discussion. One forecaster is responsible for both sets of products. As a result, the Model Diagnostic Discussion is occasionally a little shorter than in the past and only two are issued each cycle.
The MPD is focused on either ongoing or anticipated areas of organized heavy rainfall that are expected to generate a threat of flash flooding. Ideally, the MPD will be issued with as much lead time as possible, up to 6 hours. MPDs can also be issued for events where conditions are appearing less conducive for flash flooding with time or to indicate that the threat for flash flooding has ended. If an organized area of heavy rainfall is expected or ongoing but not expected to produce a threat of flash flooding, no MPD will be issued.
The MPD does not focus on storms that result solely in flooding in urban areas. These smaller scale events are best handled by local offices who know the local effects of their area of responsibility. Before issuing an MPD, WPC provides a notice to the SPC and any affected local offices. This is part of a collaborative process with the local Weather Forecast Offices and River Forecast Centers with WPC providing a heads up to an event, leaving the local offices to decide what action is appropriate. WPC has received several positive comments about the product. The MPDs are available on the WPC web site at http://www.wpc.ncep.noaa.gov/metwatch/metwatch_mpd.php
The NCEP International Desks were showcased (Figure 1) as an example of how WMO training support can translate into advancements in the predictive capabilities of WMO member states. The WMO Severe Weather Demonstration projects in Africa and potentially South America were also discussed as a method to improve capabilities. During the domestic operations part of the tour, the use of international model guidance was demonstrated. This spurred discussion of challenges facing forecast operations in many countries, including the optimal role for the forecaster, the role of local modeling, and the pros and cons of centralization.
During one-on-one meetings with David Richardson and Ken Mylne, WPC forecasters discussed their use of numerical model data and shared their observations of recent performance of the ECMWF and UKMET modeling systems, with particular focus on precipitation and temperature forecasts. Staff from the Hydrometeorological Testbed (HMT) at WPC met with both scientists to discuss the collaborative forecasting activities ongoing both at WPC and within the visiting scientists. organizations. The UKMET in particular has been involved in NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed in improving convective forecasts, and showed interest in the recent HMT flash flood experiment.
In general this week of international visitors made clear the global impact of NCEP information, and the mutual benefit of sharing information among international partners. Such engagement with the international community can help inform NCEP, the NWS, and ultimately NOAA on major science and service decisions.