The Use of NOAA's Testbeds to Transition Weather Research into Operations

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Thursday, 8 January 2015: 2:15 PM
232A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
John V. Cortinas Jr., NOAA, Silver Spring, MD; and L. P. Rothfusz and R. Cifelli

OAR's Office of Weather and Air Quality (OWAQ) improves high-impact weather and air chemistry forecast information and products through the U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP) to fund, facilitate, and coordinate research. By working with the National Weather Service (NWS), OWAQ-funded testbeds transition this research into useful operational applications. Funded initiatives also provide linkages, outreach, and coordination between NOAA, other government agencies, and academic and private sectors to help the NWS develop and get access to the weather and air quality research capabilities it needs.

OWAQ interacts with several of NOAA's testbeds and in 2014 funded the first set of internal competitions: the Hydrometeorology Testbed (HMT) based in Boulder, CO; and Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT) in Norman, OK. HWT serves as a critical step in the process of bringing new hazardous weather science to National Weather Service (NWS) operations and encourages NOAA scientists and partners to develop and demonstrate various possible applications for the improvement of real-time analysis and forecasting capabilities for severe convective weather, including forecasting tools, analysis techniques, and new uses for data. HMT conducts research on precipitation and weather conditions that can lead to flooding and fosters transition of scientific advances and new tools into forecasting operations. HMT's outputs help decision makers balance water resource demands and flood control in a changing climate.

In 2014, several 1-year HWT projects were awarded through the competitive process and involve partners from the National Severe Storms Lab (NSSL), CIMMS, University of Oklahoma, NWS and others. This research will improve understanding of probabilistic guidance for severe weather, evaluate near real-time tornado damage paths, derive probabilistic hazard information, and compare subjective and objective evaluation of forecasts for severe thunderstorms. Projects selected within HMT for 2014 involve NOAA scientists and researchers from the University of Colorado, CIRES, Colorado State, and others. These projects will improve extreme quantitative precipitation forecasts, calibrate probabilistic model forecasts, examine the benefits of convection-allowing models, and study the effects of mountainous terrain on precipitation estimates.

Upon proposal selection, OWAQ staff work with the testbeds to provide project administration and facilitation. The recent evolution in the structure of OWAQ-funded testbeds, their purpose, adaptation of a more competitive model, efforts toward transparency, and planned improvements will be discussed along with examples of testing highlights, progress, and other testbed accomplishments. OWAQ is continuing to work with its funded testbeds to make certain that standard practices are followed so that newly demonstrated R&D undergo testing and evaluation for multiple uses and to remove inefficiencies in the transition to operations. The testbeds also complete more comprehensive testing of new operational capabilities to evaluate the performance and potential readiness for operational use in meeting the NWS goal of building a Weather Ready Nation (WRN).