Science that drives service: the NWS Impact-Based Warning Demonstration

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 10:30 AM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Michael Hudson, NOAA/NWS, Kansas City, MO; and R. Wagenmaker, G. Mann, B. T. Smith, R. L. Thompson, and J. T. Ferree

In 2012, the National Weather Service (NWS) Central Region launched a demonstration called Impact-Based Warnings (IBW) in five Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) in Kansas and Missouri. Based on the findings developed by these joint evaluations, IBW was expanded in 2013 to all 38 WFOs in Central Region, and in 2014 to 46 WFOs across the United States.

Research conducted in 2013 and 2014 has focused on two thrusts. The first thrust focused on how IBW has influenced community response to weather information through enhanced decision support services to partners such as the emergency management (EM) community and the media. Project work through the NOAA Sea Grant program (Harrison et al. 2014) and the group Weather for Emergency Managers (Galluppi et al. 2013) has quantified partner response to IBW, and results have been shared at prior AMS annual meetings. This presentation will provide a brief overview of these results, but the focus of this abstract will describe the physical science research behind warning decision making in the context of maximizing the effectiveness of IBW.

Recent research by Smith et al. (2014, 2012) developed conditional probabilities of tornado damage rating from near-storm environment data and radar-based storm-scale characteristics. These techniques lend themselves to real-time warning decision making that can help forecasters discriminate between storms and apply the IBW construct to those most likely to pose the more significant threat for damage.

Other techniques have been developed that utilized dual-pol data to assist in discriminating tornado damage rating potential. Entremont (2012) and Schultz et al. (2012) have published finding on utilizing characteristics of the tornadic debris signature to correlate radar imagery with potential tornado damage rating potential.

In addition, the Advanced Warning Operations Course (AWOC) produced by the NWS Warning Decision and Training Branch focuses these research efforts into a module titled “Nowcasting Tornado Intensity” to train NWS forecasters on these techniques.

This presentation will detail key findings taken from these research papers and how they can be used in real-time warning decision making, in the context of IBW.