With the conclusion of acceptance, NOAA developers can complete transition of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) production model suite from the legacy NCEP Central Computing System (CCS) to the new WCOSS. Many NCEP Centers, including the Environmental Modeling Center, NCEP's Central Operations, Climate Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center, and Space Weather Prediction Center, along with other NOAA organizations including the Meteorological Development Laboratory, National Ocean Service, and the Air Resources Laboratory are involved in this transition. The migration of data assimilation software, numerical weather prediction models, and product generation software is expected to be completed by May 2013.
Parallel work occurring at the same time as the transition of software from the current PowerPC architecture to the iDataPlex Intel architecture includes implementation of high-speed wide area network connections at both sites, system optimization, model suite scheduling work to establish product delivery times in line with current operations, and preparation for product validation. The product validation phase will include an opportunity for external users to compare products from the operational Central Computing System and the pre-operational WCOSS system while the systems are running in parallel.
Figure 1 shows the track errors (in nm) from GFS (blue), GFDL (green) and HWRF (red) in comparison to official forecasts from NHC (pink) for the North Atlantic (Fig. 1a) and North Eastern Pacific (Fig. 1b) basins. Track forecast guidance for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season from operational GFS is found superior to other deterministic models as well as NHC official forecasts through 96-hr forecast period. For the Eastern Pacific basin, track errors from GFS and HWRF models were comparable at all forecast intervals.
Evaluation of intensity forecast errors (in knots) from GFS and regional hurricane models (HWRF and GFDL) for 2012 hurricane season is presented in Fig. 2 (a, b) for the North Atlantic and North Eastern Pacific basins. Verification of intensity errors includes forecasts from statistical dynamical models (DSHP and LGEM) which are considered superior to dynamical models. From intensity forecast perspective, none of the model guidance has shown any useful skill for the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season compared to climatology based statistical hurricane intensity forecast model (SHIFOR5, denoted as SHF5 in Fig. 2). Intensity forecasts for the Eastern Pacific basin were found to be more skillful compared to the climatology, and the NHC official forecasts had the lowest errors for this basin.
These verification statistics are based on working best track data provided by NHC, and are subjected to change when final best track data are made available.
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New decision support briefing tools were developed to provide an overview of potentially high-impact aviation weather in the National Airspace System (NAS). A graphical "stop-light" chart, similar to what was issued last holiday season, was emailed daily to senior FAA officials. This forecast for 16 major air terminals (including the popular vacation cities of San Juan, PR and St. Thomas, USVI) were included. The purpose was to keep the FAA ATCSCC National Operations Managers (NOMs), Management, and the FAA Director's staff up-to-date on the potential for aviation impacts at major hubs during the peak holiday travel period.
Additionally, the NAMs produced a Day 2-4 NAS-wide graphical aviation impact outlook giving an overview of potential aviation hazards such as thunderstorms, strong winds, wintery precipitation and low ceilings and visibility. This enabled the FAA to strategically plan for any operational adjustments needed to handle the aviation weather hazards and ensure public safety.
In full support of the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather-Ready Nation initiative, these products were coordinated using the full suite of NWS data from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, Central Weather Service Units and Weather Forecast Offices, and received high praise from FAA Senior staff for providing life-saving decision support services.
The tool consists of a large panel on the right, and a smaller text panel on the left. The large panel shows a color-shaded map of the operational probability forecast. Buttons above the panel allow toggling between the "Outlook" and the "Normal Max", for temperature, and "Outlook" and "Normal Total", for precipitation. One can also toggle between "Road Map" and "Terrain Map" backgrounds for the forecast. The visibility of these features can be controlled by a "Transparency" option.
Moving the screen cursor over the forecast map causes a small window to appear, giving text which lists 1) the latitude and longitude, 2) the probability of near-, below- and above-normal, and 3) the normal maximum temperature, or the normal precipitation, for the region where the cursor is located.
A panel to the left of the map shows pie charts of the 3 forecast categories for both temperature and precipitation for a location specified by the user by either 1) left-clicking the mouse for a desired location on the map, or 2) by typing the name of a geographical location.
The web tool is located here: http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/people/sbaxter/pdt/814day/
For years, HPC has provided a daytime package of medium range information, including graphical forecasts and an associated high resolution set of sensible weather grids and discussions. Forecasters routinely synthesize information from over 100 different model solutions to highlight medium-range model differences, provide weather solution preferences, and highlight any significant weather expected to impact the conterminous United States (CONUS) during the medium range time frame.
To complement the daytime package, a nighttime issuance of medium range guidance was introduced on Dec 18, 2012. NWS offices and the public now have around-the-clock guidance from HPC with two complete packages of HPC medium range guidance (grids, graphics, and discussions) for the CONUS. This will allow HPC customers more flexibility in using these products which will never be more than 12 hours old.
Additionally, for the past couple of cool seasons, HPC has produced day six and seven Quantitative Precipitations Forecasts (QPFs) for the Western U.S field offices. Central and Eastern Region field offices have also expressed interest in extending the time range of HPC QPFs. In response to these requests, on December 18, 2012, HPC began producing twice daily QPFs for days six and seven year-round for the entire contiguous U.S. (Fig. 1). These products will result in a complete set of sensible weather parameters available to HPC partners and customers out to seven days.
These medium range service enhancements were made possible by new tools developed by HPC development staff. The new tools have streamlined the forecast process. Insights and suggestions from medium range forecasters also identified crucial ways to modify the workflow to match user requirements.
During the early stages of Sandy, HPC's Medium Range forecasters used ensemble model forecasts to alert the U.S. East Coast of a potentially hazardous storm more than a week in advance. In addition, the HPC International Desks alerted several Caribbean nations of potential impacts.
As Sandy approached the U.S. coast, HPC coordinated closely with NOAA partners, including other NCEP centers and the local forecast offices. HPC also provided daily briefings to NOAA and NWS leadership, granted interviews to national media partners, and hosted government officials (Figure 1) who had a keen interest in Sandy. Throughout the lifetime of the storm, HPC quickly adapted its homepage to highlight whatever was requested to maintain a common message for NWS, especially regarding the public advisory, the latest rainfall forecasts, and the flooding potential forecasts from the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center.
Immediately after Sandy made landfall, HPC began issuing the public forecasts for the remaining hazards, including strong inland winds and heavy rainfall over a very large portion of the Northeast U.S. This was the first time HPC assumed responsibility from NHC for a system this strong. One of the primary hazards that was included in the forecast (and is not often associated with storms of tropical origin) was heavy snowfall in the Appalachians!
Sandy will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on many residents in the Northeast U.S., and HPC aims to translate any lessons-learned from Sandy into improved life- and property-saving services during future hazardous weather events.
Live top-of-the-hour updates were made available on the Internet and as an audio-podcast. NHC continued to make use of social media, with a tweet sent at the issuance of every new advisory. NHC's Facebook page was updated 65 times during Hurricane Sandy, gaining more than 18,000 new "likes" and surpassing the 200,000 mark on its page. Its audience reach during Sandy was 1.9 million views.
The participating scientists included three university professors, a graduate student, one government laboratory researcher, two National Weather Service Forecast Office meteorologists, three National Weather Service national center meteorologists/oceanographers, and a private sector meteorologist.
Each had the opportunity to be at NHC during actual tropical storm and hurricane events, spending up to three days with the hurricane specialists and one day with the marine forecasters in NHC's Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch. By shadowing these forecasters, each learned the analysis and prediction methodologies, technologies employed, observations and models used, time constraints, and ways that forecasts are communicated.
This meeting made two proposals to the National Weather Service (NWS) that, if adopted, would result in some changes to NWS products and warnings. The first proposal originates from the unique situation posed by Hurricane Sandy; it would give NHC the option to continue issuing formal advisories on post-tropical cyclones as long as those systems pose a significant threat to life and property, and it would give the NWS the option to keep hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings in place for those systems.
The second proposal would set a target date of 2015 for NOAA to implement explicit Storm Surge Watches and Warnings, a goal NOAA has been working toward for several years. The NWS Office of Climate, Weather, and Water Services (OCWWS) will review these two proposals in conjunction with a Hurricane Sandy service assessment. The NWS looks forward to continued engagement with its partners and users about these proposals.
The primary meeting objective was to agree to a short-term NOAA Ecological Forecasting Services action plan to bring mature ecological research into operations in order to produce a suite of NOAA ecosystem forecast services. During the conference, four technical teams (HABs, Hypoxia, Pathogens and Infrastructure) held breakout meetings, and identified initial challenges and next steps in embracing the vision of a coordinated NOAA ecological forecasting services capability. The meeting was a first step in minimizing stove-piped activities to embrace the new paradigm of "build once, use many times," a vision delivered during the opening plenary of the Ecological Forecasting Meeting.
This meeting had three primary outcomes:
The Ocean Prediction Center's role is to enable ecological forecast services. The idea is to use NWS expertise and infrastructure to help with ecological product production and dissemination. OPC does not have biological expertise, but is experienced with the 24 hour/7 day a week demands required for operational product monitoring and generation. One example of using NWS resources to enable NOAA ecological forecasts is the Chesapeake Bay seas nettle project (Figure 1).
The website for this product is located here: http://www.opc.ncep.noaa.gov/Loops/SeaNettles/prob/SeaNettles.shtml
During the visit, substantial progress was made by installing the operational NOAA model for solar wind disturbances (Enlil) on KSWC's computer systems, providing training on the use of the model for geomagnetic storm prediction, and identifying specific actions to integrate our space weather efforts. In addition, Terry Onsager received an Appreciation Award from the Director General of the National Radio Research Agency in recognition of our efforts to strengthen the collaborative ties between our organizations.
One of the metrics of the geospace model performance was the ability to forecast the time-rate-of-change in magnetic field (dB/dt) at mid-latitudes. This quantity is directly related to the amount of current induced on electric power lines. The figure shows the Heidke Skill Score for the five models for four different levels of dB/dt. It is clear that Model-A outperforms the other four models for all levels of dB/dt. A second report evaluating each model's ability to forecast regional information is expected in mid-2013. The two reports will provide the Space Weather Prediction Center with the information it needs to decide which geospace model, if any, meets its requirements and the requirements of the customers thereby justifying the resources needed to transition a model into operations.