3.5 Rapid Deployment Upper Air Observations for Incident Meteorological Support

Tuesday, 25 January 2011: 2:45 PM
6B (Washington State Convention Center)
Don Conlee, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX; and G. N. Seroka, D. M. Delao, and K. Prochazka

Early National Weather Service (NWS) operations in support of the Deepwater Horizon (Mississippi Canyon 252) incident revealed the likely benefit of having upper air observations in the immediate vicinity. Approached by NWS personnel to examine the feasibility of such observations, the NOAA Cooperative Institute for Applied Meteorological Studies (CIAMS) located in the Texas A&M Department of Atmospheric Science procured an ultra-portable upper air system and sought a suitable platform for testing and taking observations.

A ship-of-opportunity, the Research Vessel (R/V) Brooks-McCall, was already engaged in EPA-mandated water sampling in close proximity to the site. With permission of the ship, its owner, and incident authority, a TAMU faculty member and students embarked on a space-available, not-to-interfere basis for two of the ship's four-day sampling cruises. The procedures for taking the observations, including the coordination of airspace in the high-activity incident area, were developed and refined. The significant challenge of communicating the data back for both human forecaster and model usage in real time was also addressed during the expeditions. Successful observations were taken and communicated, and demonstrated the practicality and value of upper air observations in this and future incidents.

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