Upslope-enhanced snowfall events during periods of northwesterly flow in the southern Appalachians have been recognized as a significant winter forecasting problem for some time. However, only in recent years has this problem received noteworthy attention by both the academic and operational communities. The complex meteorology of these events includes significant topographic influences, as well as a linkage between the upstream Great Lakes and resultant southern Appalachian snowfall. A unique collaborative team has recently formed, working toward the goals of improving the physical understanding of the mechanisms at work in these events and developing more accurate forecasts and more detailed climatologies. The literature shows only limited attention to this problem through the 1990s. However, with modernization of the National Weather Service (NWS) in the mid-1990s came opportunities to bring more attention to new or poorly understood forecast problems. These opportunities included the establishment of new forecast offices, often collocated with universities, the deployment of the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) network, expansion of the surface observational network in both space and time, improved access to sophisticated numerical models, and growth of the spotter and cooperative observer networks.
A collaborative team, consisting of faculty from five universities and meteorologists from six NWS forecast offices, has established an ongoing, structured dialogue to help advance the understanding and improve the forecasting of these events. The team utilizes a variety of communication strategies to discuss emerging research findings, review recent events, and share data and ideas. The ultimate goal is to continue fostering working relationships among research and operational meteorologists, climatologists, and students, all with a common motivation of continually improving forecasts and understanding of this important phenomenon. This group may serve as a model for other collaborative efforts between the research and operational communities interested in a common forecast problem.
National Weather Service, Blacksburg, Virginia
National Weather Service, Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina
National Weather Service, Morristown, Tennessee
National Weather Service, Sterling, Virginia
National Weather Service, Charleston, West Virginia
National Weather Service, Jackson, Kentucky
Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina
North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville, North Carolina
University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina
*CURRENT AFFILIATION: Renaissance Computing Institute, Chapel Hill, North Carolina