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Developing Tools for Nowcasting Storm Severity

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  • 1 National Center for Atmospheric Research, * Boulder, Colorado
  • | 2 National Severe Storms Laboratory, Norman, Oklahoma
  • | 3 KRDO-TV News 13, Colorado Springs, Colorado
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Abstract

A conceptual model is presented for developing a new tool for nowcasting severe thunderstorms using existing operational data. Selected output from two operational, automated, weather detection and forecasting systems have been combined together within a fuzzy logic–based, data fusion system to test the concept and produce 15-min nowcasts of severe weather. The NCAR Auto-Nowcast System provides information and nowcasts on the evolving boundary layer and storm initiation, growth, and decay. The National Severe Storms Laboratory Warning Decision Support System (WDSS) identifies severe weather attributes within storms and provides storm-centric and specific detections of strong winds, mesocyclones, tornadoes, and probabilities of hail and severe hail. A modified version of the Auto-Nowcast System is employed as the engine for combining the Auto-Nowcast gridded output with the object-based WDSS output. Severe thunderstorm nowcasts are compared with available spotter reports for a multicellular, hail-producing squall-line event and a tornadic supercell event. Proof of concept is demonstrated and the results are encouraging as some skill is observed with the 15-min nowcasts. Many challenges still exist in producing a robust tool and these challenges are discussed.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Rita D. Roberts, NCAR Research Application Program, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. Email: rroberts@ucar.edu

Abstract

A conceptual model is presented for developing a new tool for nowcasting severe thunderstorms using existing operational data. Selected output from two operational, automated, weather detection and forecasting systems have been combined together within a fuzzy logic–based, data fusion system to test the concept and produce 15-min nowcasts of severe weather. The NCAR Auto-Nowcast System provides information and nowcasts on the evolving boundary layer and storm initiation, growth, and decay. The National Severe Storms Laboratory Warning Decision Support System (WDSS) identifies severe weather attributes within storms and provides storm-centric and specific detections of strong winds, mesocyclones, tornadoes, and probabilities of hail and severe hail. A modified version of the Auto-Nowcast System is employed as the engine for combining the Auto-Nowcast gridded output with the object-based WDSS output. Severe thunderstorm nowcasts are compared with available spotter reports for a multicellular, hail-producing squall-line event and a tornadic supercell event. Proof of concept is demonstrated and the results are encouraging as some skill is observed with the 15-min nowcasts. Many challenges still exist in producing a robust tool and these challenges are discussed.

* The National Center for Atmospheric Research is sponsored by the National Science Foundation

Corresponding author address: Rita D. Roberts, NCAR Research Application Program, P.O. Box 3000, Boulder, CO 80307. Email: rroberts@ucar.edu

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