57 National Weather Service's Creation of a High-Resolution Archive of Severe Weather Events

Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Broadway Rooms (Hilton Portland )
Brenton William MacAloney II, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD

The National Weather Service (NWS) has been responsible for archiving Storm Data, the official database of severe, unusual and high-impact weather events, for well over a half-century.  Events logged in Storm Data are surveyed, collected, and validated by 123 forecast offices around the United States and made available to the public via the National Centers for Environmental Information’s (NCEI) Storm Events Database.  

To date, only limited information has been archived regarding severe weather events.  This information is currently limited to the event’s beginning and ending location (latitude and longitude), beginning and ending date and time, maximum storm width, and maximum storm strength or magnitude.  No information is currently archived regarding the estimated path of the storm and variability of the storm’s width, magnitude, and strength, as well as the methodologies used to determine these estimates.  The lack of detailed information outlining the characteristics of these severe weather events has made research and analysis of these events difficult.  The user community has made it clear that Storm Data needs to be modernized into a high-resolution, geospatial database of severe and high impact weather events. 

The NWS began efforts to modernize their Storm Data collection program in 2015.  After meeting with various stakeholders, from those NWS employees who enter events into the Storm Data software to those who use the database for research and analysis, the NWS’s Performance and Evaluation Branch developed a set of requirements for a modernized program and database for which development is currently underway. 

The most significant change in the Storm Data events database will relate to the way events are entered and stored.  All events, regardless of storm type or impact area, will be georeferenced and available in geospatial vector data format for users.  Regarding the entry and archival of severe weather events, such as tornado, hail, and severe thunderstorm wind, the modernized Storm Data events database will import and display events as they were surveyed and logged by NWS employees using the Damage Assessment Toolkit (DAT).  This entry and archive method will allow users to have access to high-resolution tornado, hail and severe thunderstorm wind event data that was previously unavailable. 

This presentation will provide an overview of inadequacies in the current Storm Data collection program and database, show examples of how the modernized Storm Data collection program and database will address these shortcomings, and provide updated timelines on when severe weather events will become available in high-resolution, geospatial formats.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner