The NWS/Storm Prediction Center (SPC) and OAR/National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) co-led the 2020 NOAA Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Forecasting Experiment (2020 SFE) virtually to evaluate new convection-allowing models (CAMs) and ensembles, post-processing strategies, and severe weather prediction tools for accelerated transition to operations. SFE 2020 included worldwide participation from about 100 forecasters, researchers, and students. Gathering these different parts of the community facilitates research-to-operations and operations-to-research pathways that allow forecasters to interact and learn from researchers, and researchers to better understand forecaster needs and challenges.
SFE 2020 was truly unique. By late March, it was clear that COVID-19-related restrictions would preclude an in-person experiment, so organizers shifted to a virtual format (i.e., Google Meet). Compared to previous SFEs, model evaluation activities consumed a much larger proportion of activities, with all participants conducting evaluations through the morning. These evaluations mostly used subsets of the 41-member Community Leveraged Unified Ensemble (CLUE; Clark et al. 2018), a framework through which SFE collaborators contribute CAM guidance for use in controlled experiments. The 2020 CLUE enabled evaluation of different time-lagged and multimodel CAM ensemble configurations, diagnosis of forecast skill and sensitivities in versions of the Finite Volume Cubed Sphere Limited Area Model (FV3-LAM), examination of forecast sensitivity to different initial conditions and model cores, and evaluation of lightning data assimilation impacts at 0–12-h forecast lead times. In the afternoon, virtual activities were conducted by a small internal group with a few NWS forecasters, focused on short-term forecasting applications of NSSL’s prototype Warn-on-Forecast System (WoFS; e.g., Jones et al. 2020).
The 2020 SFE was made possible by dedicated participants and support staff at SPC and NSSL. Work was completed as part of regular duties at the federally funded NOAA/NSSL for Clark, Wicker, Heinselman, Gao, Imy, and Coniglio, and NOAA/SPC for Jirak and Dean. Gallo, Roberts, Knopfmeier, Krocak, Skinner, Wilson, Vancil, Hoogewind, Dahl, Creager, Jones, Wang, Loken, Flora, Kerr, Yussouf, Dembek, Miller, Martin, Guerra, Matilla, Jahn, and Harrison were funded by NOAA/Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research under NOAA-University of Oklahoma Cooperative Agreement NA11OAR4320072, U.S. Department of Commerce.
Clark, A. J., and Coauthors, 2018: The Community Leveraged Unified Ensemble (CLUE) in the 2016 NOAA/Hazardous Weather Testbed Spring Forecasting Experiment. Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 99, 1433–1448, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-16-0309.1.
Jones, T. A., and Coauthors, 2020: Assimilation of GOES-16 radiances and retrievals into the Warn-on-Forecast System. Mon. Wea. Rev., 148, 1829–1859, https://doi.org/10.1175/MWR-D-19-0379.1.