13.5 VORTEX-SE: Year 1 Successes and Challenges from the Local NWS Perspective

Thursday, 26 January 2017: 11:30 AM
Conference Center: Tahoma 3 (Washington State Convention Center )
Lauren Nash, NWS, Huntsville, AL

The first field campaign of the Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) occurred in Spring 2016. Unlike past VORTEX studies, VORTEX-SE was focused around Huntsville, Alabama and the unique challenges of forecasting tornadoes in the southeast United States. VORTEX-SE offered the local National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Huntsville significant benefits as well as interesting challenges.

During VORTEX-SE, atmospheric science students and faculty from the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) led daily forecast briefings, while WFO forecasters offered additional input. There were numerous timing and logistical challenges with these briefings because each deployment required the researchers to travel to Huntsville with a five day notice. A strong professional relationship between NWS meteorologists, UAH students and VORTEX-SE researchers was vital to having successful and meaningful briefings and deployments.

WFO Huntsville operations improved thanks in part to the increased availability of data from VORTEX-SE including atmospheric soundings, high-resolution observations from Texas Tech University, and meteorologists in the field providing observations.  These additional data led to better real-time mesoanalysis, situational awareness, and briefings for core partners. The relationships built during year 1 will continue to build in year 2, helping to bring more meteorological insights to NWS personnel. All of these benefits will combine to help improve severe weather warnings, forecasts and services which will move us towards a more Weather Ready Nation.

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