Building an Advanced State-Wide Severe Weather Early Warning System through a Unique Partnership Between UAlbany and State and Federal Disaster Response Agencies

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Thursday, 8 January 2015: 2:45 PM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Chris Thorncroft, SUNY, Albany, NY; and E. Joseph

Recent studies (e.g., Lazo et al 2011) show that New York is the most vulnerable of the 50 states to the negative economic effects of weather variability. Karl et al 2009 also suggest that during recent decades there has been a clear trend towards more extreme precipitation in the northeastern United States including New York, suggesting that this vulnerability may increase in the future. A number of notable recent extreme weather events have extensively affected New York – both Upstate and the greater New York City metropolitan area – leading to loss of life, significant damage to property and infrastructure, business and industry disruption and economic loss, and power interruptions to millions of New Yorkers. For example Hurricane Sandy in 2012 and Hurricane Irene caused $32 Billion, and $1 Billion in damages respectively. Extreme winter storm events have also resulted in adverse impacts to many regions statewide and severe storms have resulted in notable flooding.

Currently, the National Weather Service (NWS) in New York relies on 27 automated surface observing system (ASOS) stations deployed across the state. As most of these stations are located at airports, they are not representative of the state's complex topography and weather. Furthermore, the ASOS network does not provide the high-resolution data needed to support monitoring and predictive modeling of events responsible for weather-related risks (such as rainfall/floods, heavy snow/ice, and high winds) statewide. Notable and significant gaps exist throughout the state including in such regions like the Adirondacks and Catskills. These topographies are amongst the wettest regions of New York State but currently have very limited hydrological observations. Numerous studies have shown that accuracy of weather forecasts is limited by the lack of meteorological observations within and above the planetary boundary layer (PBL). PBL temperature, humidity, and winds are presently sampled twice daily at just three NWS upper air stations in NY (Upton, Albany and Buffalo). Given these limitations weather forecasts – including the nature and intensity of hazardous and extreme weather events – are compromised.

To help mitigate the vulnerability of New York to severe weather events the New York State Mesonet (NYSM) being led by UAlbany in partnership with the New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services (DHSES) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is being developed. NYSM will consist of a network of 125 meteorological stations permanently and strategically deployed across New York State to provide hazardous weather early warning and decision support to weather forecasters, state emergency managers, and the public. With its 17 enhanced sites that will include atmospheric profilers, advanced data processing system and high quality data standards the system will be one of the most advanced and capable for hazardous weather real-time monitoring and prediction. An overview of the system and lessons learned so far will be presented.