Using military meteorology methods to improve information dissemination

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 5:15 PM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Lt. Calvin Elkins, United States Air Force, Davis-Monthan AFB, AZ

On 23 July 2014, severe thunderstorms moved across areas of eastern Washington. Locations in the path of this storm included Spokane County and Fairchild Air Force Base (AFB). At 1500 Pacific Daylight Time (PDT), weather warnings for Fairchild AFB were issued by the US Air Force 25th Weather Squadron at Davis-Monthan AFB. National Weather Service (NWS) warnings were issued for Spokane County at 1600 PDT. The first of many storm damage reports was received by the Spokane NWS office at 1604 PDT. Both of these weather entities issued warnings with enough lead time for their customers to take necessary action.

This case study highlights a severe weather event that was well covered by both National Weather Service and Air Force meteorologists. The 23 July storms can be classified as a high-impact, high-confidence event since the Storm Prediction Center issued a mesoscale discussion and a weather watch well before the storms affected the area. As the NWS and the military operate with different end goals, they use different forecast cycles, warning criteria, and lead time thresholds. By comparing and contrasting these factors, improvements can be made to the timeliness of warnings and the dissemination of important information to the public.