NHC Director Dr. Rick Knabb led the President on a brief tour of the operations areas of both NHC and WFO Miami, where he greeted several operational personnel. While in the hurricane operations area, the President reviewed the tropical cyclone discussion for newly-named eastern Pacific Tropical Storm Andres. Giving his approval, he added his name to the product and hit the transmission button to send it out.
The President sat in the NHC media/seminar room where he received an hour long briefing by federal and state decision makers regarding the readiness of the United States for the 2015 hurricane season. Dr. Knabb explained that catastrophic hurricanes do occur in so-called slow seasons and preparation plans should not change, despite the seasonal forecast of a below-average season.
Following the briefing, the President provided a statement to the on-site White House press corps, highlighting the necessity of preparation and mentioning the impacts of climate change on hurricane impacts, particularly storm surge.
Before leaving, the President spent time on social media via his new Twitter handle, @POTUS, reaching out to those in the vulnerable hurricane zones.
The event highlighted the often under appreciated and deadly impact of extreme rainfall. Several speakers stressed the importance of knowing your risk (do you live in a flood plain?) and having an action plan when extreme rainfall and associated flooding occurs.
The event garnered an incredible 4.2 million estimated twitter impressions (number of times a user saw a Tweet). Such national outreach on the deadly hazards of extreme precipitation is critical to building a Weather-Ready Nation. The full hangout video is at - http://www.northropgrumman.com/extremeprecipitation/
A news conference to discuss the 2015 hurricane season and stress the importance of knowing your hurricane evacuation zone and having a hurricane plan was held in the late morning, attracting a dozen TV cameras and more than two dozen media outlets. The Weather Channel and several local television stations carried portions of the news conference live. The featured speakers were U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23); Craig Fugate, administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency; Rick Knabb, Ph.D., director, NOAA National Hurricane Center; Bryan Koon, director, State of Florida Emergency Management; and Leslie Chapman-Henderson, CEO, Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH).
Frequent live tweets using #hurricaneprep were made throughout the day. A posting was made on the NHC FB page summarizing the press conference.
To date, the two new CRAY systems have been delivered to Reston (Luna) and Orlando (Surge). The Orlando system has been installed the software is being loaded and system tuning is taking place. Acceptance testing is scheduled to begin on August 12, 2015. The Orlando system will be installed and the build out will take place during July and August. By October 2015, the combined IBM/Cray systems in Reston, VA and Orlando, FL will be operating with 2.8 PFlops, 3748 Nodes, 84,512 Cores, and 8.124 PB of storage.
This major upgrade included an increase in the horizontal resolution of all three domains, an upgrade in the vortex initialization scheme, an improvement to the data assimilation system, and an upgrade of the model physics. For the first time, NCEP is providing hurricane guidance across ALL global basins, which includes an expansion to western North Pacific, southern Pacific, and the entire Indian Ocean. To accommodate all global basins, the HWRF model will run all year and has expanded to be capable of running seven storms at a given time, up to 28 runs per day. HWRF results over a four year period (2011-2014) showed improvements in intensity forecasts by as much as 10% in the Atlantic Ocean when compared to the previous operational version of HWRF.
So with a strong El Niño brewing in the Pacific, what does that mean for the United States? By examining seasonal climate conditions in previous El Niño years, a set of typical impacts associated with the phenomenon have been identified. "Associated with" doesn't mean that all of these impacts happen during every El Niño episode. However, they happen more often during El Niño than you'd expect by chance, and many of them have occurred during many El Niño events. In general, El Niño-related temperature and precipitation impacts across the United States occur during the cold half of the year (October through March). The most reliable of these signals is wetter-than-average conditions along the Gulf Coast from Texas to Florida during this 6-month period. Over California and the Southwest, the relationship between El Niño and above-average precipitation is weaker, and it depends significantly on the strength of the El Niño. The stronger the episode (i.e., the larger the sea surface temperature departures across the central equatorial Pacific are), the more reliable the signal in this region has been.
Elsewhere over the United States, El Niño impacts are associated with drier conditions in the Ohio Valley, and there is a less-reliable dry signal in the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies. Hawaii also often experiences lower-than-average rainfall totals from the late fall through early spring period.
The Weather Prediction Center (WPC) led accurate, consistent, and understandable forecasts for the historic Texas and Oklahoma Floods. WPC collaborated with the Southern and Central Region Regional Operations Centers to set up daily multi-office collaboration calls beginning May 21 and continuing through May 25. Such calls promoted consistent Flash Flood Watches and QPF forecasts across the region, encouraging a consistent DSS message. Intense collaboration occurred Saturday, May 23rd, when WPC issued a rare high risk of excessive rainfall. WPC used the relatively new Mesoscale Precipitation Discussion to forecast, 'POSSIBLY LIFE-THREATENING RAINFALL...WITH SOME OF THE HEAVIEST ACTIVITY FOCUSING JUST NORTH AND WEST OF A LINE FROM SAN ANTONIO TO AUSTIN TO WACO.' This strong wording was used 6 hours before the devastating flood wave on the Blanco River early the morning of May 24.
Just a day later, the same Mesoscale Precipitation Discussion product was used to communicate the threat for the Houston Metro area, noting 'THIS WILL SET THE STAGE FOR VERY HEAVY RAINFALL AMOUNTS...WITH A HIGH LIKELIHOOD OF TRAINING CELLS. SIGNIFICANT FLASH FLOODING IS EXPECTED AT LEAST LOCALLY AS A RESULT.' This product was issued nearly 4 hours before a flood emergency was issued for the Houston Metro area.
These messages raised WFO's situational awareness of not just flash flooding, but devastating, life-threatening flash flooding. The messages were used by WFOs to provide very large warning lead times, including 3 hour Flash Flood Warning lead times on the Blanco River and more than 2 hour lead times in the Houston metro area. Both warnings were followed by rare flash flood emergency warnings. The NWS collaboration and accurate service undoubtedly saved lives on this deadly weekend.
These graphics are updated within a few minutes of each outlook issuance (including amended or updated outlooks), and will eventually be available as part of a more public-oriented SPC web page (in addition to the existing page). The design of each graphic allows quite a bit of room for the addition of local timing/impacts information. The images were designed and developed by Patrick Marsh, Techniques Development Meteorologist at the SPC.
This year marked the 50th Anniversary of daily space weather forecasting from NOAA, a milestone that provided the foundation for worthwhile discussions about the history of solar observations based from Boulder, as well as a focus on the growing constituency affected by space weather conditions.
The week started off strong with an all-day GOES-"Next" Workshop, pulling in experts from academia, industry, and government to define requirements for the next series of GOES satellites (following GOES-R) scheduled to launch in 2030 timeframe. The focus then switched to the introduction of the White House SWORM (Space Weather Operations, Research, and Mitigation) Task Force that Dr. Louis Uccellini serves as a co-chair on. The purpose of the task force is developing a National Space Weather Strategy to increase the nation’s preparedness for extreme space weather events. The SWORM presentations outlined the development of strategic goals to be undertaken by government agencies, academia, and the private sector. Task Force goal team leads provided details of the National Strategy and provided an opportunity for questions and comments from workshop attendees during a panel discussion.
With the recent successful launch of NOAA's DSCOVR satellite in February 2015, a trio of presentations highlighted the successes, status, instrumentation, and mission goals for the ACE satellite replacement. Over 50 presentations followed throughout the week, spanning all facets of the space weather enterprise. Speakers and attendees delved into emerging and relevant topics including national policy, agency perspectives, government and private sector roles, modeling, research, international perspectives, and impacts on specific industry sectors including airline, power grid, and GPS end users.
The week also featured key updates from various agency leads (NASA, NSF, NOAA, Air Force), a distinguished commercial sector roundtable highlighting the growing space weather enterprise, highly attended poster sessions, tours of the SWPC forecast office, and a banquet featuring NOAA's own Dr. Sandy MacDonald (ESRL Director and current President of the AMS) capping the evening with an inspiring presentation that showcased "Science on a Sphere".
The Space Weather Workshop has proven to be unique in that no other meeting brings together all the elements of the space weather community, provides an end-to-end view of the space weather enterprise, and serves to strengthen and foster relationships and partnerships across agencies, academia, and the private sector.
Bob Daniels, OPC affiliate, attended a conference in Lacey, WA that focused on advancing tools for modeling, forecasting and managing for the pathogen Vibrio. The goals of the conference were to gain a shared understanding of the unique characteristics of the shellfish industry in Washington State and review of the existing tools and techniques for Vibrio risk assessment and resource management.
In late June, OPC's Acting Director, Joe Sienkiewicz, Bob Daniels, and AFS Ecological Lead, Chris Alex visited the NOS Cooperative Oxford Laboratory in Oxford, MD. They met with Ecological Forecasting PI, Dr. John Jacobs and Director, Suzanne Skelly to discuss the steps for the coming year to increase NOAA's capability to predict the pathogens Vibrio Vulnificus and Parahaemolyticus.
NAMs were involved in training Chinese air traffic management meteorologists and weather specialists about weather support to ATCSCC in February, 2015, and again in May, 2015. NAMs will provide weather training for another group of high ranking Air Traffic Managers from China visiting ATCSCC in August, 2015.
The focus of this training has been the highly valuable information on the AWC web page and the Testbed/TFM portal; CAWS; CCFP; and mesoscale analyses and model output options for convective forecasts. An attendee from China at the May, 2015 ATFM training class noted, "The weather training was the best part of the ATFM class."
The new WMO project is initially focusing on meso-scale modeling efforts that some countries are using to provide Meteorological Services in the Terminal Area. A small team of nowcasting experts was formed to document the tools in use in advanced countries. This documentation will serve as a resource for developing countries. The United States volunteered to provide an expert to this nowcasting team, and efforts are underway by NWS International Affairs to select the appropriate meso-scale modeling expert.
The meeting members were also given a tour of the Shanghai office of the Chinese Meteorological Administration (CMA), which is a modernized CMA office that employs about 500 people. The facility features 3 distinct operations areas that handle marine, tropical and public weather (aviation is handled by a different agency), with large areas devoted to decision support activities.
The NWS senior managers met with ATCSCC management including Mr. Dave Foyle, FAA System Operations Director, and Tony Tisdall, ATCSCC Air Traffic Manager. Mr. Foyle and Mr. Tisdall noted the success of the NWS' return to the Command Center and spoke about the high value of weather decision support provided by the NAMs.
Mr. Tisdall noted, "Mike Eckert and Brandon Smith were instrumental in paving new ground for NWS meteorological support. They have set a very high bar, and the new NAMs (Joe Carr and MIC Frank Brody) who arrived in 2014 have continued that top-notch level of support."
The NWS HQ group received an overview briefing on the ATCSCC's role in air traffic management for the National Air space. They next toured the Command Center operations floor and the NWS NAM operations area. Mike Eckert, Joe Carr, and Frank Brody provided hands-on demonstrations of weather decision support. Other topics of discussion included CAWS, auto-CCFP, new NAM requirements from FAA, and AWIPS bandwidth issues.
During this time at the NAM console, several Command Center supervisors requested ad-hoc weather briefings during this very active convective weather day on July 14. This further illustrated the value of NWS meteorologists embedded in FAA operations for decision support services.
Forecasts of sea ice extent (SIE) are shown below relative to an observed 1981-2010 climatology for July 2015 to March 2016 (Fig.1). Forecast SIE for September 2015 is 4.56 km6, about 1.96 km6 below the 1981-2010 climatology (purple line, 6.52 km6). Spatially, forecast sea ice concentration (SIC) is near or below the climatology over most regions (Fig.2). In July, forecast SIC is below average in the Barents Sea, Chukchi Sea, and north and western Hudson Bay, continuing the observed pattern in June. In August and September, forecast SIC is below normal in the eastern Beaufort Sea and in the western sector including the Chukchi Sea, Eastern Siberian Sea, Laptev Sea, and Kara Sea.
With the NOAA P-3 Aircraft out of service, the HAT was joined by the USAF Reserve WC-130J aircraft and two crews from Keesler AFB in Biloxi, Mississippi. NOAA's AOC accompanied the tour with its G-IV aircraft based at MacDill AFB in Tampa. This is the first time that the USAF aircraft and the G-IV accompanied the HAT and were pared together, displaying the cooperative efforts of both DOD and DOC.
This was a very successful event with more than 175 media interviews conducted over the span of the six day tour. More than 4000 members of the public and school children toured the aircraft along the way.
Several VIPs accompanied the tour at one or more stops. This included Elizabeth Zimmerman, FEMA assistant administrator for response & recovery; Jason Tuell, NWS ERH Director; Craig Fugate, FEMA Administrator; Mike Russell, South Carolina Emergency Management Director; and Bryan Koon, Florida Division of Emergency Management Director. In addition, Tim Smail of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes (FLASH, a NOAA and FEMA partner), and Erik Salna of Florida International University's Wall of Wind, accompanied the aircraft at each of the five U.S. stops. Each had a booth in the display area, interacting with visitors and providing media interviews.
The 2016 Hurricane Awareness Tour will take place along the U.S. Gulf Coast in May.
During the week, the OPC's Facebook page reached 15.5K people with their posts, had 276 individual 'Likes,' and their content was shared 87 times. Twitter Analytics reports that the OPC earned a total of 46.6K impressions, their 'Tweets' earned 6.7K impressions, and they had 652 engagements during the week.