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David O. Blanchard and Kenneth W. Howard

A brief overview of the 13 June 1984 Denver hailstorm is presented. This storm produced very large hail in a few locations and copious amounts of small hail over a large area. Documentation of the storm includes data from a surface mesonetwork, cooperative observers and storm spotters, dual Doppler radar, profiler winds, radiosonde, lightning detectors, and photographs of smoke tracers. Integration of these data sets provides an interesting and informative look at this destructive storm.

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Ronald L. Holle, Raúl E. López, Kenneth W. Howard, Kenneth L. Cummins, Mark D. Malone, and E. Philip Krider

An isolated lightning flash at 1436:52 UTC 11 February 1996 struck and destroyed a house in Burlington, Connecticut, injuring an occupant of the house. A flash detected simultaneously by the National Lightning Detection Network was within 1.1 km of the house. The flash was separated from any other flash by several hours and hundreds of kilometers and occurred during winter. Positive charge was lowered to ground by the flash, as has been found in previous studies of winter storms. Its estimated peak current of +76 kA was stronger than most positive flashes and nearly all negative cloud-to-ground flashes for the entire year in the same area. The incident is compared with other previously documented lightning casualty and damage statistics during wintertime for Connecticut and other regions of the United States. The importance of the flash is described in relation to the resulting material damage and personal injury, the handling of insurance claims, the use of flash data in forecasting and warning applications, and personal safety.

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Charles L. Dempsey, Kenneth W. Howard, Robert A. Maddox, and Daniel H. Phillips

The National Severe Storms Laboratory, the Salt River Project (SRP), and the Electric Power Research Institute have been involved in a multiyear tailored collaboration (TC) research project. The project was jointly supported by all three agencies and had the goal of exploring potential benefits that the power industry could realize by incorporating new weather information, resulting from the National Weather Service's modernization program, into their operational decision-making process. The SRP, which is one of the nation's largest public utilities and located in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, served as a test bed for a variety of experimental techniques that could easily be emulated in the future. Activities during this TC were focused upon weather-related problems experienced during the summer monsoon months when thunderstorms can threaten or impact SRP's operations on a daily basis. Weather information and special forecasts were introduced to and shared with several of SRP's operational divisions through the course of this TC; their degree of utilization and subsequent improvements to SRP's operational efficiency are summarized in this paper.

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Ami T. Arthur, Gina M. Cox, Nathan R. Kuhnert, David L. Slayter, and Kenneth W. Howard

The National Basin Delineation Project (NBDP) was undertaken by the National Severe Storms Laboratory to define flash-flood-scale basin boundaries for the country in support of the National Weather Service (NWS) Flash Flood Monitoring and Prediction (FFMP) system. FFMP-averaged basin rainfall calculations allow NWS forecasters to monitor precipitation in flash-flood-scale basins, improving their ability to make accurate and timely flash-flood-warning decisions. The NBDP was accomplished through a partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Data Center (EDC). The one-arc-second (approximately 30 m)-resolution digital terrain data in the EDC's National Elevation Dataset provided the basis for derivation of the following digital maps using a geographic information system: 1) a grid of hydrologically conditioned elevation values (all grid cells have a defined flow direction), 2) a grid of flow direction indicating which of eight directions water will travel based on slope, 3) a grid of flow accumulation containing a count of the number of upstream grid cells contributing flow to each grid cell, 4) synthetic streamlines derived from the flow accumulation grid, and 5) flash-flood-scale basin boundaries. Special techniques were applied in coastal areas and closed basins (basins with no outflow) to ensure the accuracy of derived basins and streams. Codifying each basin with a unique identifier and including hydrologic connectivity information produced a versatile, seamless dataset for use in FFMP and other national applications.

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ALAN GERARD, STEVEN M. MARTINAITIS, JONATHAN J. GOURLEY, KENNETH W. HOWARD, and JIAN ZHANG

Abstract

The Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system is an operational, state-of-the-science hydrometeorological data analysis and nowcasting framework that combines data from multiple radar networks, satellites, surface observational systems, and numerical weather prediction models to produce a suite of real-time, decision-support products every two minutes over the contiguous United States and southern Canada. The Flooded Locations and Simulated Hydrograph (FLASH) component of the MRMS system was designed for the monitoring and prediction of flash floods across small time and spatial scales required for urban areas given their rapid hydrologic response to precipitation. Developed at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in collaboration with the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) and other research entities, the objective for MRMS and FLASH is to be the world’s most advanced system for severe weather and storm-scale hydrometeorology, leveraging the latest science and observation systems to produce the most accurate and reliable hydrometeorological and severe weather analyses. NWS forecasters, the public and the private sector utilize a variety of products from the MRMS and FLASH systems for hydrometeorological situational awareness and to provide warnings to the public and other users about potential impacts from flash flooding. This article will examine the performance of hydrometeorological products from MRMS and FLASH, and provide perspectives on how NWS forecasters use these products in the prediction of flash flood events with an emphasis on the urban environment.

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Alan Gerard, Steven M. Martinaitis, Jonathan J. Gourley, Kenneth W. Howard, and Jian Zhang

Abstract

The Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system is an operational, state-of-the-science hydrometeorological data analysis and nowcasting framework that combines data from multiple radar networks, satellites, surface observational systems, and numerical weather prediction models to produce a suite of real-time, decision-support products every 2 min over the contiguous United States and southern Canada. The Flooded Locations and Simulated Hydrograph (FLASH) component of the MRMS system was designed for the monitoring and prediction of flash floods across small time and spatial scales required for urban areas given their rapid hydrologic response to precipitation. Developed at the National Severe Storms Laboratory in collaboration with the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) and other research entities, the objective for MRMS and FLASH is to be the world’s most advanced system for severe weather and storm-scale hydrometeorology, leveraging the latest science and observation systems to produce the most accurate and reliable hydrometeorological and severe weather analyses. NWS forecasters, the public, and the private sector utilize a variety of products from the MRMS and FLASH systems for hydrometeorological situational awareness and to provide warnings to the public and other users about potential impacts from flash flooding. This article will examine the performance of hydrometeorological products from MRMS and FLASH and provide perspectives on how NWS forecasters use these products in the prediction of flash flood events with an emphasis on the urban environment.

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Phillip B. Chilson, Winifred F. Frick, Jeffrey F. Kelly, Kenneth W. Howard, Ronald P. Larkin, Robert H. Diehl, John K. Westbrook, T. Adam Kelly, and Thomas H. Kunz

Aeroecology is an emerging scientific discipline that integrates atmospheric science, Earth science, geography, ecology, computer science, computational biology, and engineering to further the understanding of biological patterns and processes. The unifying concept underlying this new transdisciplinary field of study is a focus on the planetary boundary layer and lower free atmosphere (i.e., the aerosphere), and the diversity of airborne organisms that inhabit and depend on the aerosphere for their existence. Here, we focus on the role of radars and radar networks in aeroecological studies. Radar systems scanning the atmosphere are primarily used to monitor weather conditions and track the location and movements of aircraft. However, radar echoes regularly contain signals from other sources, such as airborne birds, bats, and arthropods. We briefly discuss how radar observations can be and have been used to study a variety of airborne organisms and examine some of the many potential benefits likely to arise from radar aeroecology for meteorological and biological research over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. Radar systems are becoming increasingly sophisticated with the advent of innovative signal processing and dual-polarimetric capabilities. These capabilities should be better harnessed to promote both meteorological and aeroecological research and to explore the interface between these two broad disciplines. We strongly encourage close collaboration among meteorologists, radar scientists, biologists, and others toward developing radar products that will contribute to a better understanding of airborne fauna.

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Jonathan J. Gourley, Zachary L. Flamig, Humberto Vergara, Pierre-Emmanuel Kirstetter, Robert A. Clark III, Elizabeth Argyle, Ami Arthur, Steven Martinaitis, Galateia Terti, Jessica M. Erlingis, Yang Hong, and Kenneth W. Howard

Abstract

This study introduces the Flooded Locations and Simulated Hydrographs (FLASH) project. FLASH is the first system to generate a suite of hydrometeorological products at flash flood scale in real-time across the conterminous United States, including rainfall average recurrence intervals, ratios of rainfall to flash flood guidance, and distributed hydrologic model–based discharge forecasts. The key aspects of the system are 1) precipitation forcing from the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL)’s Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS) system, 2) a computationally efficient distributed hydrologic modeling framework with sufficient representation of physical processes for flood prediction, 3) capability to provide forecasts at all grid points covered by radars without the requirement of model calibration, and 4) an open-access development platform, product display, and verification system for testing new ideas in a real-time demonstration environment and for fostering collaborations.

This study assesses the FLASH system’s ability to accurately simulate unit peak discharges over a 7-yr period in 1,643 unregulated gauged basins. The evaluation indicates that FLASH’s unit peak discharges had a linear and rank correlation of 0.64 and 0.79, respectively, and that the timing of the peak discharges has errors less than 2 h. The critical success index with FLASH was 0.38 for flood events that exceeded action stage. FLASH performance is demonstrated and evaluated for case studies, including the 2013 deadly flash flood case in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and the 2015 event in Houston, Texas—both of which occurred on Memorial Day weekends.

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Steven V. Vasiloff, Dong-Jun Seo, Kenneth W. Howard, Jian Zhang, David H. Kitzmiller, Mary G. Mullusky, Witold F. Krajewski, Edward A. Brandes, Robert M. Rabin, Daniel S. Berkowitz, Harold E. Brooks, John A. McGinley, Robert J. Kuligowski, and Barbara G. Brown

Accurate quantitative precipitation estimates (QPE) and very short term quantitative precipitation forecasts (VSTQPF) are critical to accurate monitoring and prediction of water-related hazards and water resources. While tremendous progress has been made in the last quarter-century in many areas of QPE and VSTQPF, significant gaps continue to exist in both knowledge and capabilities that are necessary to produce accurate high-resolution precipitation estimates at the national scale for a wide spectrum of users. Toward this goal, a national next-generation QPE and VSTQPF (Q2) workshop was held in Norman, Oklahoma, on 28–30 June 2005. Scientists, operational forecasters, water managers, and stakeholders from public and private sectors, including academia, presented and discussed a broad range of precipitation and forecasting topics and issues, and developed a list of science focus areas. To meet the nation's needs for the precipitation information effectively, the authors herein propose a community-wide integrated approach for precipitation information that fully capitalizes on recent advances in science and technology, and leverages the wide range of expertise and experience that exists in the research and operational communities. The concepts and recommendations from the workshop form the Q2 science plan and a suggested path to operations. Implementation of these concepts is expected to improve river forecasts and flood and flash flood watches and warnings, and to enhance various hydrologic and hydrometeorological services for a wide range of users and customers. In support of this initiative, the National Mosaic and Q2 (NMQ) system is being developed at the National Severe Storms Laboratory to serve as a community test bed for QPE and VSTQPF research and to facilitate the transition to operations of research applications. The NMQ system provides a real-time, around-the-clock data infusion and applications development and evaluation environment, and thus offers a community-wide platform for development and testing of advances in the focus areas.

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Suzanne Van Cooten, Kevin E. Kelleher, Kenneth Howard, Jian Zhang, Jonathan J. Gourley, John S. Kain, Kodi Nemunaitis-Monroe, Zac Flamig, Heather Moser, Ami Arthur, Carrie Langston, Randall Kolar, Yang Hong, Kendra Dresback, Evan Tromble, Humberto Vergara, Richard A Luettich Jr., Brian Blanton, Howard Lander, Ken Galluppi, Jessica Proud Losego, Cheryl Ann Blain, Jack Thigpen, Katie Mosher, Darin Figurskey, Michael Moneypenny, Jonathan Blaes, Jeff Orrock, Rich Bandy, Carin Goodall, John G. W. Kelley, Jason Greenlaw, Micah Wengren, Dave Eslinger, Jeff Payne, Geno Olmi, John Feldt, John Schmidt, Todd Hamill, Robert Bacon, Robert Stickney, and Lundie Spence

The objective of the Coastal and Inland Flooding Observation and Warning (CI-FLOW) project is to prototype new hydrometeorologic techniques to address a critical NOAA service gap: routine total water level predictions for tidally influenced watersheds. Since February 2000, the project has focused on developing a coupled modeling system to accurately account for water at all locations in a coastal watershed by exchanging data between atmospheric, hydrologic, and hydrodynamic models. These simulations account for the quantity of water associated with waves, tides, storm surge, rivers, and rainfall, including interactions at the tidal/surge interface.

Within this project, CI-FLOW addresses the following goals: i) apply advanced weather and oceanographic monitoring and prediction techniques to the coastal environment; ii) prototype an automated hydrometeorologic data collection and prediction system; iii) facilitate interdisciplinary and multiorganizational collaborations; and iv) enhance techniques and technologies that improve actionable hydrologic/hydrodynamic information to reduce the impacts of coastal flooding. Results are presented for Hurricane Isabel (2003), Hurricane Earl (2010), and Tropical Storm Nicole (2010) for the Tar–Pamlico and Neuse River basins of North Carolina. This area was chosen, in part, because of the tremendous damage inflicted by Hurricanes Dennis and Floyd (1999). The vision is to transition CI-FLOW research findings and technologies to other U.S. coastal watersheds.

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