12B.3 VORTEX-SE: Successes and Challenges from the Local NWS Perspective

Thursday, 11 January 2018: 12:00 AM
404 (Hilton) (Austin, Texas)
Lauren Nash, NWS, Tallahassee, FL

The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) field campaigns occurred during Spring 2016 and Spring 2017. Unlike past VORTEX studies, the VORTEX-SE field campaigns were focused on an area around Huntsville, Alabama, and the unique challenges of forecasting tornadoes in the southeast. This offered the Huntsville National Weather Service Weather Forecast Office (WFO) significant benefits as well as interesting challenges.

During each deployment, Huntsville WFO severe weather operations improved overall thanks in part to the increased availability of data from VORTEX-SE. The data included atmospheric soundings, high-resolution surface observations, and meteorologists in the field providing observations. These additional data led to better real-time mesoanalyses, situational awareness, and briefings for core partners.

One of the greatest challenges of VORTEX-SE involved forecasting a three to five day lead time required for researchers to travel to Huntsville. During both VORTEX-SE campaigns, Atmospheric Science students and faculty from the University of Alabama in Huntsville led daily forecast briefings, while WFO forecasters offered additional input. This briefings allowed WFO forecasters to collaborate with the students to improve forecasts for VORTEX-SE as well as to improve the WFO forecast.

This presentation will discuss both the opportunities and the challenges encountered during several deployments and how they influenced WFO severe weather operations.

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