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NOAA awards $5.7 million to improve hazardous weather forecasts

Research to focus on improved prediction of tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, snow
October 9, 2015

The day they arrived in Oklahoma to begin filming, most of the "Twister" cast, including star Bill Paxton, went storm-chasing with NOAA researchers participating in the VORTEX field project designed to study tornadoes like this one. Though the cast didn't see any tornadoes that day, VORTEX scientists took measurements of this one that occurred June 2, 1995, south of Dimmitt, Texas.

NOAA awards $5.7 million to improve hazardous weather forecasts (map).

(Credit: NOAA)

NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan announced today $5.7 million in cooperative research agreements and grants to improve the forecasting of hazardous and extreme weather including tornadoes, hurricanes, heavy rainfall, floods and snowstorms.

“These research investments are designed to accelerate the development and use of advanced observing systems, forecast models, and other decision-support tools that will improve our nation’s resilience to hazardous weather,” said Sullivan during remarks at the Society of Environmental Journalists conference in Norman, Oklahoma.

She added, “By engaging with a broad array of academic and other research partners, we aim to improve scientific understanding of these hazardous and extreme weather phenomena to solve the real problems our citizens, businesses, and leaders face every single day. Congressional leadership was instrumental in making these projects a priority."

The funding, provided by NOAA Research, will support collaborative work between NOAA and 27 academic, government and industry research institutions located in 16 states across the nation for these four major programs:

  • NOAA funding will support research to improve tornado prediction. This photo shows a tornado, which struck Smith, Jasper and Clarke Counties in Mississippi, and Choctaw County in Alabama on April 27, 2011 during a tornado outbreak. (Credit: NOAA).

    NOAA funding will support research to improve tornado prediction. This photo shows a tornado, which struck Smith, Jasper and Clarke Counties in Mississippi, and Choctaw County in Alabama on April 27, 2011 during a tornado outbreak. (Credit: NOAA)

    Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes Experiment in the Southeast U.S. (VORTEX-SE), $1.9 million – a new research program to improve tornado forecasts and warnings in the Southeastern United States, building upon the best practices and knowledge gained from earlier projects in the Great Plains. This new research program will advance our understanding of how environmental factors in the region affect the formation, intensity, structure, and path of tornadoes in this region. The research will also determine public perceptions of tornado risk, the best methods for communicating forecast uncertainty to the public, and differences in the way various demographic groups receive and respond to tornado warnings. This work will not only help inform storm prediction in the southeast U.S., but also in other regions such as the southern Great Plains and Texas.

  • Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT), $1.4 million – This testbed brings together world-class researchers and forecasters online and in person to develop, test and verify improvements to forecast computer models with the goal of moving hurricane research into day-to-day operations. This year’s funding from the U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP) will support new projects to better use satellite data to improve computer model forecasts of the genesis and rapid intensification of tropical cyclones, improve analysis tools and the forecast products posted online to inform the public. Projects will also support the transition of a new coastal storm tide forecast model to operational use by NOAA hurricane forecasters.
  • Hydrometeorology Testbed, (HMT) $1.2 million –This testbed focuses on quantifying and forecasting rain and snow, improved forecasting of streamflow and flooding, and improved decision-support tools for NOAA forecasters.  This year’s USWRP funding supports new projects that will evaluate high-resolution streamflow forecast models that provide new uncertainty information, improve representation of cloud droplets and assimilation of other data into high-impact weather forecast models and ensembles of models, and provide new flash flood products for forecaster evaluation.
  • Hazardous Weather Testbed (HWT), $1.2 million –This funding from USWRP will support new projects in this testbed focused on improving ensembles of high-resolution storm forecast models and data assimilation techniques, hail forecasting tools, and estimation of one-hour probabilities of near-term severe weather using real-time environmental data. This could lead to improvements in real-time analysis and forecasting of hazardous weather that accompanies thunderstorms, such as tornadoes, hail, damaging wind, and lightning.

More information about these projects is available online.

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Contact:
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