Impacts of super-resolution data on National Weather Service warning decision making

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Sunday, 17 January 2010
Exhibit Hall B2 (GWCC)
Jonathan M. Vogel, McGill University, Montreal, QC, Canada; and C. D. Payne, C. A. Van Den Broeke, and L. R. Lemon

Handout (366.5 kB)

Super-resolution data provided by the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler (WSR-88D) has changed the look and feel of radar data and impacted the warning decision making of National Weather Service (NWS) warning forecasters. Since the Build 10 upgrades to the WSR-88Ds in 2008, spatial resolution of radar data was enhanced from legacy resolution to super-resolution. The improvement should result in both more detailed storm features and storm feature identification at distances 50% greater in range. These details ought to have allowed for increased lead time, decreased false alarm ratio (FAR), and better warning decision making. However, no formal study was previously completed to determine if these expectations had been realized. For this study, a survey was sent to forecasters from all Weather Forecasting Offices (WFOs) in all regions of the NWS who were expected to have experience using radar data in a warning decision environment. While understanding of the technological aspects of super-resolution data appears to be lacking, 50% to 70% have seen a perceived improvement in storm feature appearance and 30% to 50% have seen a perceived improvement in identification at farther ranges. A majority also agrees there is potential for increased lead time and decreased FAR, but it is too early to tell numerically how super-resolution has impacted them. The most surprising change was that 60% have noticed positive changes to wintry precipitation echoes due to super-resolution data. Overall, there is strong NWS support for super-resolution data and mainly positive impacts in the warning decision environment. However, for some aspects, such as lead time and FAR, it is too early to clearly quantify results.

Supplementary URL: http://www.caps.ou.edu/reu/reu09/papers/Vogel.pdf