4.1 University Partnerships: the Huntsville, Alabama Experiment

Tuesday, 2 August 2005: 3:30 PM
Diplomat Ballroom (Omni Shoreham Hotel Washington D.C.)
Wayne M. MacKenzie Jr., University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and J. R. Mecikalski, B. T. Huffines, and K. Watts

When an F4 tornado devastated southern Huntsville, AL, in November 1989, killing 23, local TV stations began the so called “weather wars” which had before been limited to television markets in the Tornado-prone Plains states. As a means of dramatically enhancing the weather content, the television stations have invested in some of the best weather equipment available to the broadcast sector, which continues today. Presently, every Huntsville news station owns a live Doppler radar, Baron Service's VIPIR and Millennium systems, automated weather crawl technology, and high-end weather graphics packages. With the goal of transitioning research, developing university collaboration and increasing forecasting capabilities, several Huntsville stations are now turning to the resource of the Department of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).

WAAY-TV is a testing facility for an experimental product which ‘nowcasts' and forecasts convection initiation up to an hour before precipitation begins. This partnership will enable the operational meteorologists at WAAY-TV to evaluate and offer suggestions to UAH while using this product during weathercasts or severe weather events.

The benefits for UAH include exposure to the public and an evaluation of the experimental product while WAAY-TV receives a unique and new forecasting tool to possibly be used in to make their weather broadcasts unique in the marketplace, especially during developing severe weather events. These benefits discussed in detail will show how the broadcast community can reach out to atmospheric research departments of universities grasping the wide range of research that is potentially available to not only stay competitive but also provide quality information back to the researchers.

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