Forecaster Use and Evaluation of Earth Network's Total Lightning and Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts in NOAA's Hazardous Weather Testbed

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015: 11:45 AM
225AB (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Darrel M. Kingfield, CIMMS/Univ. of Oklahoma/NOAA/NSSL, Norman, OK; and K. M. Calhoun, T. C. Meyer, M. Elliott, and D. LaDue

It has long been theorized, and through limited studies demonstrated, that utilizing total lighting detections and its associated derivative products could provide positive impacts on the warning decision making process for convective events. Earth Networks has indicated the potential for its continental scale total lightning network (ENTLN) data and associated “Dangerous Thunderstorm Alerts” (DTAs) products to increase forecaster situational awareness and provide lead times greater than current National Weather Service (NWS) severe thunderstorm and tornado warnings, while maintaining a comparable probability of detection and false alarm ratio. For evaluation in the Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) in Norman, OK, both the ENTLN data and DTA products were implemented into the NWS operational software (AWIPS2). Following this initial development, 18 NWS forecasters completed a series of six two hour weather-warning simulations in displaced real time across a variety of convective regimes throughout the United States ranging from marginally severe to high-impact tornadic events. Utilizing a repeated measures design, each forecaster was randomly assigned one of three tiers of data to be used during the simulation. The data tiers are as follows:

• Tier 1: The full suite of WSR-88D radar products available in AWIPS2.

• Tier 2: The ENTLN total lightning point data in addition to all products available in tier 1.

• Tier 3: Time-series lightning cell and rate products and associated DTA polygons in addition to all products available in tier 2.

This study quantifies the effectiveness the ENTLN and DTA product tiers had on the warning decision making process as forecaster skill scores and lead times will be compared to each other. Furthermore, a synthesis of observations and feedback provided by forecasters during the experiment will be presented. The terminal goal of this project is to make recommendations on possible product improvements and determine whether Earth Networks' products should become part of the operational product sets available to NWS offices nationally.