Forecaster use and evaluation of real-time 3DVAR analyses during severe thunderstorm and tornado warning operations in the hazardous weather testbed

Kristin M. Calhoun, Travis M. Smith, Darrel M. Kingfield, Jidong Gao, David J. Stensrud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

A weather-adaptive three-dimensional variational data assimilation (3DVAR) system was included in the NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed as a first step toward introducing warn-on-forecast initiatives into operations. NWS forecasters were asked to incorporate the data in conjunction with single-radar and multisensor products in the AdvancedWeather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS) as part of their warningdecision process for real-time events across the United States. During the 2011 and 2012 experiments, forecasters examined more than 36 events, including tornadic supercells, severe squall lines, and multicell storms. Products from the 3DVAR analyses were available to forecasters at 1-km horizontal resolution every 5 min, with a 4-6-min latency, incorporating data from the national Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) network and the North American Mesoscale model. Forecasters found the updraft, vertical vorticity, and storm-top divergence products the most useful for storm interrogation and quickly visualizing storm trends, often using these tools to increase the confidence in a warning decision and/or issue the warning slightly earlier. The 3DVAR analyses were most consistent and reliable when the storm of interest was in close proximity to one of the assimilated WSR-88D, or data from multiple radars were incorporated into the analysis. The latter was extremely useful to forecasters in blending data rather than having to analyze multiple radars separately, especially when range folding obscured the data from one or more radars. The largest hurdle for the real-time use of 3DVARor similar data assimilation products by forecasters is the data latency, as even 4-6 min reduces the utility of the products when new radar scans are available.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)601-613
Number of pages13
JournalWeather and Forecasting
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Atmospheric Science

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