11.5 Improving radar observations of precipitation in Colorado: Building a business case through science

Wednesday, 22 August 2012: 11:15 AM
Priest Creek C (The Steamboat Grand)
Steven Vasiloff, NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK; and K. Howard, D. J. Gochis, M. P. Meyers, J. Busto, and A. Arthur

Recently several field campaigns using mobile C-Band and X-Band radars operated by the National Severe Storms Laboratory have been conducted in Colorado west of the Front Range. The experiment in southwest Colorado near Durango during the 2010 monsoon season showed that the current WSR-88D network has the potential to miss flash flood and severe storm events throughout the Four Corners Region. A subsequent winter study showed the skill of radar to sample snow and the potential for improved water supply forecasts. This paper will summarize these findings and highlight specific case studies. In addition, a winter 2013 effort to be conducted near Delta, CO will be described with the primary goal of improving snow observations with radar. The KGJX WSR-88D will be upgraded with dual-polarization in the fall of 2012 and the winter experiment will explore the utility of this new technology with implications at S-Band and X-band for improving snow observing capabilities.

An overall objective of these field campaigns has been to build a business case for additional radars to fill critical gaps. In addition to better science, these field experiments pave the way to complete observations in a critical headwaters state. This paper will also propose a radar network design for Colorado that includes size and frequency toward minimizing costs while maximizing benefits. The scientific criteria guiding the network design will be discussed.

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