• Branick, M. L., 1997: A climatology of significant winter-type weather events in the contiguous United States, 1982–94. Wea. Forecasting,12, 193–207.

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  • Corfidi, S. F., and K. E. Comba, 1989: The Meteorological Operations Division of the National Meteorological Center. Wea. Forecasting,4, 343–366.

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  • NOAA, 1994: Superstorm of March 1993, March 12–14, 1993. U.S. Department of Commerce Natural Disaster Survey Rep., 123 pp. [Available from Customer Service, Office of Meteorology, NWS/NOAA, W/OM11, 1325 East–West Highway, SSMC2, Silver Spring, MD 20910.].

  • Olson, D. A., N. W. Junker, and B. Korty, 1995: Evaluation of 33 years of quantitative precipitation forecasting at the NMC. Wea. Forecasting,10, 498–511.

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    Isohyets of forecast snowfall in in. for the 6–18-h period ending 1800 UTC 13 March 1993 (solid lines) and the 18–30-h period ending 0600 UTC 14 March 1993 (dashed lines).

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    Narrative discussion that accompanied the manual snow forecasts (shown in Fig. 1) explaining forecast reasoning, model differences, and forecaster confidence.

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Comments on “A Climatology of Significant Winter-Type Weather Events in the Contiguous United States, 1982–94”

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  • 1 Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, National Centers for Environmental Prediction, National Weather Service, Camp Springs, Maryland
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Abstract

No Abstract Available

Corresponding author address: Mr. William E. Gartner, Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, NCEP, World Weather Building, Room 410, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746.

Email: william.gartner@noaa.gov

Abstract

No Abstract Available

Corresponding author address: Mr. William E. Gartner, Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, NCEP, World Weather Building, Room 410, 5200 Auth Road, Camp Springs, MD 20746.

Email: william.gartner@noaa.gov

Branick (1997) presents results from a sophisticated national winter weather climatology study and suggests possible applications to operational forecasting. We at the National Weather Service’s Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (NWS’s HPC) appreciate the author’s efforts and agree with and support many of the author’s findings and recommendations. We also look forward to the possibility of accessing this database and applying it to the HPC’s winter weather forecast program. We concur with the author’s recommendations regarding the need for a standardized method for reporting winter weather, something meteorologists at the HPC have desired for some time. A standardized reporting system [e.g., the suggested use of local storm reports (LSRs) by all NWS offices] would be invaluable for supporting real-time and poststorm forecast verification, responding to frequent media queries, and preparing and issuing HPC’s operational storm summaries, as well as poststorm research and case studies.

We also strongly agree on the importance of and the need for effective long lead time forecasts (greater than 12 h) of winter weather. In section 5, the author states, “if NCEP is to provide effective [winter weather] guidance to WFOs, it will be necessary to establish guidance products that cover lead times of 12–24 h.” We agree that long lead time is extremely important. This statement, however, may leave readers with the impression that no winter weather guidance currently exists. In fact, forecasts of heavy snow, which the author points out accounted for 80% of the reports in the sample and deems the “dominant hazard,” have been issued for a number of years by HPC for lead times beyond 12 h.

The HPC, in part formerly the Weather Forecast Branch of the National Meteorological Center, issues two 12-h forecasts that indicate the potential for heavy snowfall over the contiguous United States. The first is a 6–18-h forecast of heavy snow (AFOS graphic 93S), which has been issued since 1963. HPC has been issuing a second heavy snow forecast product since the winter of 1988/89 covering 18–30 h (AFOS graphic 94S). Isohyets of expected snowfall in each 12-h period are typically drawn starting with 2–4 in. and then at 4-in. intervals (i.e., 4, 8, 12, etc.) These two manual forecasts are always accompanied by a written narrative (AFOS header NFDQPFHSD/WMO header FOUS11KWBC) that discusses forecast reasoning, model differences, and forecaster confidence. The package of two individual 12-h forecasts and the corresponding discussion are issued four times a day on a routine basis between mid-September and mid-April, and on an as-needed basis the remainder of the year.

Figure 1 shows an HPC heavy snow forecast issued at the onset of a major blizzard that affected a large part of the eastern United States in March 1993 (NOAA 1994). The first-period forecast (6–18 h) is depicted in solid isohyets and the second-period forecast (18–30 h) is dashed. The corresponding written discussion is shown in Fig. 2. The first-period heavy snow forecasts were verified manually from their inception in 1963 through the 1986/87 snow season. Since that time, formal verification has not taken place because of personnel reductions and a decreasingly reliable dataset (Olson et al. 1995). Informal verification is conducted internally and we hope to reinstate a formal snow verification program in the future. To meet the needs discussed by the author pertaining to winter weather hazards other than heavy snow, the HPC is currently in the planning stages of expanding its winter weather product suite. Specifically, long lead time guidance for significant ice accumulation, blizzards, and 72-h snowfall are being investigated at this time.

More information about HPC heavy snow guidance products and most other HPC products can be found in Corfidi and Comba (1989) or by visiting the HPC Web site (http://www.ncep.noaa.gov/HPC/) on the Internet and selecting the About our Products Page. This page was specifically created for NWS Weather Forecast Offices, River Forecast Centers, and others interested in learning more about the technical operations of the HPC. It includes descriptions of and access to most HPC analysis and forecast products, as well as related information concerning product issuance schedules, forecast coordination, user feedback, and potential new HPC products.

This comment acknowledges Mr. Branick’s contributions to operational winter weather forecasting. Additionally, while NWS forecast guidance does not cover all forms of winter weather at this time, we acknowledge the potential for future improvements to this situation and note that forecasts of one major winter weather hazard, heavy snow, are currently prepared by HPC to aid forecasters inside and outside the NWS.

REFERENCES

  • Branick, M. L., 1997: A climatology of significant winter-type weather events in the contiguous United States, 1982–94. Wea. Forecasting,12, 193–207.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • Corfidi, S. F., and K. E. Comba, 1989: The Meteorological Operations Division of the National Meteorological Center. Wea. Forecasting,4, 343–366.

    • Crossref
    • Export Citation
  • NOAA, 1994: Superstorm of March 1993, March 12–14, 1993. U.S. Department of Commerce Natural Disaster Survey Rep., 123 pp. [Available from Customer Service, Office of Meteorology, NWS/NOAA, W/OM11, 1325 East–West Highway, SSMC2, Silver Spring, MD 20910.].

  • Olson, D. A., N. W. Junker, and B. Korty, 1995: Evaluation of 33 years of quantitative precipitation forecasting at the NMC. Wea. Forecasting,10, 498–511.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 1.

Isohyets of forecast snowfall in in. for the 6–18-h period ending 1800 UTC 13 March 1993 (solid lines) and the 18–30-h period ending 0600 UTC 14 March 1993 (dashed lines).

Citation: Weather and Forecasting 13, 3; 10.1175/1520-0434(1998)013<0884:COACOS>2.0.CO;2

Fig. 2.
Fig. 2.

Narrative discussion that accompanied the manual snow forecasts (shown in Fig. 1) explaining forecast reasoning, model differences, and forecaster confidence.

Citation: Weather and Forecasting 13, 3; 10.1175/1520-0434(1998)013<0884:COACOS>2.0.CO;2

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