Sunday, 7 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 5 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
The general conditions required for the occurrence of lake effect snow are predominantly well-understood. However, forecasters still have difficulty with specifics of lake effect snow events such as precise time of intensification (TI), which has a significant impact on public safety and emergency management in the snowbelt near Lake Erie. This research study serves to identify environmental variables impacting the TI of these events, with a specific goal of helping National Weather Service forecasters improve confidence in defining the start times of lake effect snow events in warning products. To accomplish this, Bufkit software was used to analyze high-resolution weather model data and collect several variables pertaining to lake effect snow generation in northern Ohio and northwest Pennsylvania for multiple events. Data was compiled hourly from six hours prior to known TI to six hours following TI. Raw differences and percent change of variables, correlation between variables, summary statistics, and plots were produced to demonstrate consistency and spread of variables. A collection of thermal, moisture, and wind variables that exhibit commonalities at specific time intervals prior to and at TI was compiled. Current variable thresholds used for forecasting were evaluated and plausible new thresholds were proposed based on observed trends. This collection will serve as a benchmark for forecasters and will be used to refine timing of lake effect warning products. Results demonstrate that specific ranges of collected variables are normally present before and at TI, allowing forecasters to better pinpoint likely intensification time of lake effect snow events in the vicinity of Lake Erie and deliver more accurate warning products.
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