8A.1 Hand Analysis in a Digital Age

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 10:30 AM
151A (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Barbara Mayes Boustead, NWS, Norman, OK; and H. Wells, R. Edwards, and J. M. Boustead

Handout (3.7 MB)

Are hand-drawn analyses of surface and upper-air meteorological information obsolete? Digital objective surface and upper-air analyses are widespread and easy to find from high-resolution model sources, and a forecaster can find them within mere seconds. Hand-drawn subjective analyses can take considerably longer to complete. What value do they provide beyond the objective analyses, and is the value worth the time investment? Research indicates that the cognitive processes associated with drawing by hand aid in retention and comprehension of the information being drawn. Forecasters may spend more time doing a hand analysis than glancing at digital objective analyses, but they are more likely to need to look back several times at those digital analyses to recall features and may have a more superficial comprehension or recall of the analysis that negatively impacts the forecast process. Hand analysis also allows for quality control of the model initializations and objective analyses, as well as deep comprehension of features in space and time. In an era of concern for operational forecasters seeking to add value to model predictions, consistent subjective hand analysis allows forecasters to carefully interpret potentially important meteorological features, providing human insight not gained by looking at objective analysis that can be applied to their forecasts. It is particularly useful in mesoscale applications, in which subtle features that are not well-resolved by objective analyses or models may imminently yield high-impact weather. No single tool or technique is a panacea for solving all forecasting woes, but hand analysis remains a useful tool to use among others in a well-rounded forecasting process.
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