2.2 The Operational Value of National Mesonet Observations

Monday, 8 January 2018: 11:00 AM
Room 5ABC (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Steve Woll, Synoptic Data

The National Mesonet Program (NMP) is an NWS-sponsored program allowing NWS systems and personnel to gain access to the data from tens of thousands of non-federal observing systems, located in every state in the U.S. NMP began over ten years ago as a pilot project focused on the south central portion of the U.S. with a handful of partners. In the years since, it has become a fully supported program of record within NWS, expanded to over 40 partner networks covering all 50 states, and contributes data from over 35,000 observing stations daily.

The data types represented in the NMP include not only "traditional" surface observations but also a wide variety of other sensor and data types. In response to priorities articulated by the NWS, NMP participants have actively recruited new partners who bring new technologies and techniques that have expanded the amount and types of data available throughout the boundary layer - including aircraft, radiometer, SODAR, and tall tower data - and at the surface, including increased soil moisture measurements that can provide critical input to NWP models.

Data from the NMP partners is provided to NWS' Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS), now in full operational mode at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. From there, the data is available to NWS' full suite of analyses, models, and forecasts and can be ingested and viewed directly by watchstanders via AWIPS at Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), Regional Headquarters, and various forecast and warning centers and laboratories. NMP data that is releasable to the public can also be downloaded from MADIS by outside users for their own purposes.

A series of case studies is used to illustrate how NMP data is being used operationally every day. Some of these case studies will detail the impact of NMP data during specific impactful weather events, like an April 2017 frontal passage in the Middle Atlantic region, in which NMP assets were the only ones to record gusts to over 40 mph in the Philadelphia area and over 60 mph along the New Jersey shoreline, including max gusts that were 13 mph greater than those observed by the federal observing network.

Other cases will highlight the operational contributions from new and unique data sets provided under the NMP. One such example includes invaluable boundary layer observations recorded from aircraft ascending and descending near regional airports and submitted by NMP partner Panasonic Avionics. Another includes observations acquired from thousands of high quality cameras and provided by NMP partner Harris.

With numerous successes under its belt, the National Mesonet Program continues to gain momentum and bring tremendous value to the nation, its citizens, and its economy. It is the Nationwide Network of Networks vision brought to life - a model public-private partnership with the benefits, synergies, and collaboration on display every day in every region of the country.

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