Lisa Bucci and AOML Director Bob Atlas share in Banner I. Miller Award


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Nolan, D. S., R. Atlas, K. T. Bhatia, and L. R. Bucci, 2013:  Development and validation of a hurricane nature run using the Joint OSSE nature run and the WRF model.  Journ. Adv. Model. Earth Syst., 5, 382-405.

has been awarded the prestigious 2016 Banner I. Miller Award from the American meteorological Society.  The award is presented for an outstanding contribution to the science of hurricane and tropical weather forecasting published in a journal with international circulation during the most recent 48 months. The award is presented at each Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology.  You can access the full text at


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Howie Friedman wins the 2016 NOAA Research EEO/Diversity Award for Exemplary Service

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Howie Friedman, HRD’s Deputy Director, was awarded the 2016 NOAA Research EEO/Diversity Award for Exemplary Service for his consistent efforts promoting EEO, Diversity, Education and Outreach activities at the Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, as well as his interaction with the NOAA Office of Education (Hollings, Education Partnership Program and GradSci programs), and activities related to the South Florida Federal Executive Board.  In addition, the entire laboratory won an award:  The citation states:  “AOML dedicates time and resources to EEO/Diversity.  AOML managers, supervisors, and employees participate in local science fairs, career fairs, community outreach and educational enhancement activities targeting women and minorities, and host cultural awareness observance months and summer internship opportunities for students from diverse backgrounds. The AOML workforce is 29.49% minority, the most diverse research lab at OAR.”

Congratulations to AOML and Howie in particular!

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Paper on Colorado hailstorms published in Weather and Forecasting

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Thunderstorms that result in deep hail on the ground can threaten life and property. Previous such storms in the Denver area caused hail to pile up to two feet deep in 30 minutes and closed roads, damaged aircraft, and required swift water rescues due to flooding from rain and melting hail. Because snowplows and bulldozers are needed to clear hail from roads after these storms, they have been termed “plowable” hailstorms.

We studied four plowable hailstorms that occurred in the Denver metro area from 2012-2014. We looked for similarities in the weather patterns that produced each storm so that forecasters can better predict when plowable hailstorms might happen. We also studied radar and lightning data from each plowable hailstorm so that forecasters can use these measurements to see a plowable hailstorm as it is happening.

Important Conclusions:

1. The four plowable hailstorms occurred in the afternoon after a cold front passed through the Colorado Front Range during the early morning. The atmosphere became unusually moist, the wind direction near the ground blew towards the mountains (that is, upslope), and the wind direction changed greatly with height above the ground.

2. The most promising way to detect whether a storm is producing plowable hail is to use the National Weather Service’s existing weather radar to estimate how much hail is on the ground. The technique is similar to the way that forecasters find out how much rain a certain place has gotten. In all four hailstorms, this method pinpointed the locations where plowable hail was reported.

3. In three of the four hailstorms, the plowable hail occurred when lightning in the storm was more intense than at any time before the deep hail. When combined with the hail depth estimate from the radar, the increase in lightning activity may be another way that forecasters can detect when a storm is producing plowable hail.


The article can be found at

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HRD researchers attend NOAA Aicraft Operations Center’s Stakeholders Workshop, MacDill AFB, Tampa, FL, 9-10 March 2016

Drs. Joe Cione, Frank Marks and Robert Rogers attended the first NOAA Aircraft Operations Centers (AOC) Stakeholders Workshop held at AOC, MacDill AFB. Dr. Rogers provided an overview of the NOAA Intensity Forecast Experiment (IFEX) as part of the stakeholders project summaries presentation.

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HRD researchers attend National Hurricane Conference, Orlando, FL, 21-22 March 2016

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Neal Dorst and Dr. Robert Rogers gave presentations at a special Hurricane History session on “60 year history of the Hurricane Research Division Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory” and “NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division: Advancing Tropical Cyclone Research and Prediction Using Aircraft Observations”, respectively at the 2016 National Hurricane Conference held at the Orlando Hilton.

Their presentations are available on the anonymous ftp site at:

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HRD seminar – Dr. Jason Sippel, NCEP/EMC, College Park, MD – 30 March 2016

Dr. Sippel presented a seminar on “The Challenges in Developing the Operational HWRF DA System:  What I’ve learned after 1.5 years at EMC”.


Though the HWRF model has seen tremendous advances over the past decade, largely due to HFIP, the HWRF data assimilation system still lacks what is needed to properly analyze tropical cyclone vortices.  The methods necessary to initialize hurricanes were developed nearly a decade ago, but they still have not been operationally implemented.  The most severe deficiency of the current system is reliance upon background error covariance either from the NCEP global ensemble, or from a 6-h HWRF forecast initialized with the global ensemble.  Biases in model physics also appear to interact with HWRF initialization procedures and cause severe problems with HWRF data assimilation.  The result of these issues is that HWRF suffers extreme spindown when data assimilation is performed in the inner core of many tropical cyclones, which requires that the model not use most reconnaissance data within the storm.  Instead, a vortex initialization procedure, which has its own deficiencies that will be discussed, is performed for the inner core region. 

Several developments are necessary to give HWRF a truly effective data assimilation system for all tropical cyclones.  First, error covariance needs to be reflective of mesoscale uncertainty, which can only be achieved by cycling of HWRF ensemble perturbations.  Additional developments, including high-frequency cycling, and both pure ensemble and 4D-hybrid data assimilation need to be explored within the context of the operational system.  Furthermore, it is necessary to eliminate model biases that are producing inconsistencies between the model first guess and observations.  After these problems have been addressed, there is also a need to explore ways to circumvent the current vortex initialization procedure.  Some of these developments are ongoing, and others will require significant investment from HFIP partners and perhaps a re-examination of the way HFIP has approached data assimilation. 

A recording of the presentation is available on the anonymous ftp site:

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HRD seminar – Dr. Brad Beechler, Vaisala, Inc., Boulder, CO – 29 March 2016

Dr. Beechler presented a seminar on “Object-Based Data Assimilation: Strategies & Technologies”.


A phenomenological treatment of coherent patterns in data can lead to improved assimilation techniques.  Simple methods to identify and manipulate coherent structures in both models and observations are outlined and discussed, along with strategies to improve upon these techniques.  Part one outlines a method to improve forecasts when an object is detected in a forecast model, part two describes a technique to improve an ensemble forecast model given an object detected in observations, and part three is a discussion of recent emerging technologies and their possible applications in this field.

A recording of the presentation is available on the anonymous ftp site:

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Neal Dorst in Sarasota Herald-Tribune article

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An article about history talk given by Neal Dorst at the National Hurricane Conference, March 22, 2016.

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HRD seminar – Dr. Dusanka Zupanski, Zupanski Consulting, LLC, Fort Collins, CO – 28 March 2016

Dr. Zupanski presented a seminar on “Theoretically advanced, yet computationally efficient data assimilation and forecasting methods”.


We have witnessed several fundamental advancements in data assimilation and forecasting methods in the last decade. Hybrid ensemble-variational data assimilation methods have been developed, utilizing the best properties of the most advanced data assimilation methods: ensemble Kalman filter and variational methods. Satellite radiance assimilation in cloudy conditions has indicated potential for significant improvements in forecasting clouds, precipitation and tropical cyclone rapid intensification. Forecast models have also become more advanced through including more realistic interactions between the atmosphere, land and ocean, via coupled models, resulting in forecast improvements across the coupled processes.

A big challenge that still remains is in the ever-existing requirements for theoretically advanced, yet computationally efficient data assimilation and forecasting methods. Hybrid ensemble-variational methods have already been proven theoretically advanced and computationally efficient and are increasingly being implemented in operational applications across the world.

Employing multi-model ensembles within the hybrid methods could make them even more computationally efficient and also improve their accuracy. In addition, coupled data assimilation has a potential for further forecast improvements, through propagating observed information via coupled forecast error covariance. In our presentation, we will show some examples of multi-model hybrid data assimilation and coupled data assimilation.

Finally, applications of data assimilation in the form of forecast post-processing could also bring significant forecast improvements, requiring negligible computational costs. As it will be explained in our presentation, this approach could extract valuable information from the last-minute observations and propagate it into the future, without the need for rerunning the forecast after data assimilation.

A recording of the presentation is available on the anonymous ftp site:

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HRD researchers at 69th Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference/Tropical Cyclone Research Forum, Miami, FL – 15-17 March 2016

Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 2.07.58 PMHRD and AOML scientists participated in the 70th Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference/Tropical Cyclone Operations and Research Forum. HRD scientists presented or were coauthors on 6 of the 39 presentations. Shirley Murillo and Frank Marks chaired two session and Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan chaired a panel discussion on “What are the most promising short-term and long-term steps we can take to improve operational tropical cyclone forecast models?”.


  1. Critical Operational Information Technology: HRD plans in support of ATCF and AWIPS2: Frank Marks
  2. Research to Operations (R20) Activities: HRD: Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan (Gopal)
  3. JHT Project 1: Guidance on Observational Undersampling over the Tropical Cyclone Lifecycle: Dave Nolan (UM/RSMAS)
  4. JHT Project 4: Improvements to the Tropical Cyclone Genesis Index (TCGI): Jason Dunion (UM/CIMAS/AOML)
  5. JHT Project 6: Probabilistic Prediction of Tropical Cyclone Rapid Intensification Using Satellite Passive Microwave Imagery: Chris Rozoff (U of Wisc./CIMSS)
  6. Observing Systems: What should our operational airborne “fleet” comprise in 2030?: Robert Rogers (HRD)

The agenda and links to all presentations are online at:


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