P1.91 NOAA Profiler Network: The Newest Tool in NOAA’s Observing System Architecture for Use in Severe Weather Subjective and Objective Forecasting

Monday, 1 August 2005
Regency Ballroom (Omni Shoreham Hotel Washington D.C.)
Margot H. Ackley, NOAA/FSL, Boulder, CO; and D. Helms and P. Wolf

The NOAA Profiler Network (NPN) began as a collaborative effort between NOAA's OAR and NWS Line Offices to demonstration the potential of using Doppler clear-air wind profiling technology to obtain high-quality, reliable wind measurements from the ground through the troposphere continuously and in all weather conditions. The network originally consisted of 32 systems located mainly in the central U.S.'s “Tornado Alley”. These systems have been in full operation since May 1992, providing hourly data to the NWS numerical weather prediction models and subjective data for use by local NWS forecasters particularly to stay abreast of developing severe weather in their forecast area. Several years later three systems were installed in Alaska. The NWS Storm Prediction Center routinely uses the profiler data for convective outlooks and subsequent watches. The profiler data are also used by an array of other customers including the military, academia, various private sectors, researchers, and foreign governments.

Because of the high space- and time-resolution of NPN wind measurements, they improve warnings, watches and numerical forecasts and are a most valuable tool for assessing the threat of potential, developing and active severe weather. At the present time, there is no other atmospheric observing system that provides the rapid update of data critically needed to support severe weather forecasting.

Use of profiler data, particularly during severe weather events such as tornadoes, flash floods, winter storms and wildfires, provides NOAA with an excellent tool to help mitigate the effects of the severe weather thus helping to save lives and protect property. By using profiler data, forecasters can use “situational awareness” to increase warning lead times significantly instead of having to actually wait until the severe weather event is verified.

NOAA has plans to transition the NPN to a full operational network and expand the geographical coverage as a key component of NOAA's Integrated Upper-Air Observing Network.

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