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Warnings and Geographic Information Systems For the National Weather Service . Ken Waters Regional Scientist Pacific Region Headquarters National Weather Service, Honolulu HI July 13, 2005 Silver Spring, MD. Polygon Team.

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warnings and geographic information systems for the national weather service

Warnings and Geographic Information Systems For the National Weather Service

Ken Waters

Regional Scientist

Pacific Region Headquarters

National Weather Service, Honolulu HI

July 13, 2005

Silver Spring, MD

polygon team
Polygon Team
  • Created to help move the NWS from county-based warnings to polygon-based warnings
  • Feb. 2004: Regions meet to study this issue
  • Mar. 2004: Meeting Information presented to MSD Chiefs
  • Apr. 2004: Gen. Johnson asks PR Regional Director Jeff LaDouce to commission a polygon warning team
  • June 2004: Meeting information presented to Ops Committee
  • June 2004: Polygon Team Chartered
  • Aug. 2004: First formal Polygon Team Meeting
  • Sep. 2004: Verification Scoring Sub-team Launched
  • Jan. 2005: AMS Presentation
  • Mar. 2005: Prototype Test Started
  • Sep. 2005: Scheduled end of Polygon Prototype Test

TEAM MEMBERS:

  • Mike Looney, CRH (facilitator)
  • Mike Coyne, MIC Huntsville MS
  • Steve Naglic, WCM WFO Columbia SC
  • Pete Wolf, SOO WFO Jacksonville FL
  • Jeff Lorens, WRH
  • Brent McAloney, OCWWS
  • Doug Young, OCWWS
  • Noreen Schwein, CRH
  • Joe Shaffer, SPC
  • Rich Okulski, OAA
  • Ken Waters, PRH

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

county vs polygon
County vs. Polygon
  • Latitude/Longitude points at the bottom of all TORs, SVRs, FFWs, and SMWs.

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

polygon advantages
Polygon Advantages

Polygon Eliminates

Area False

Alarmed

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

prototype test
Prototype Test

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

polygon team challenges
Polygon Team Challenges
  • Software Issues
  • Workload Concerns
  • Verification
  • Dissemination

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

jackson ms apr 5 7 trial by fire
Jackson MS Apr 5-7“Trial by fire”

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

example ffw issued july 10 th 2005 remnants of hurr dennis
Example: FFW issued July 10th, 2005 (remnants of Hurr. Dennis)

10 counties warned in west central Alabama---results in 25 vertices due to Warngen constraining boundaries to political county boundaries!

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

example ffw issued july 10 th 2005 remnants of hurr dennis9
Example: FFW issued July 10th, 2005 (remnants of Hurr. Dennis)

Using the polygon method reduces the definition to only 5 vertices, covers largely the same constituency, and allows the forecaster much more flexibility to warn for the area the hazard is expected---rather than for county boundaries.

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

slide10

Another Example---Warngen Simplifying Polygon to County Boundary

Tornado warning issued for Dent Co. MO

What happens if the tornado crosses like….

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

another interesting case study may 30 2004
Another interesting case study,May 30, 2004

30/2314Z: WFO St. Louis forecaster issued tornado warning for Washington Co. IL, conforming the polygon to “more or less” the shape of the county

30/2319Z: WFO Paducah issued tornado warning for neighboring Perry Co. IL

30/2330Z: Confirmed tornado touchdown in Dubois, Washington County IL

The irony of all this?:

Using polygons as issued by the WFO’s, this event was unwarned! Using legacy county verification, WFO St. Louis warned for the event.

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

slide13

Now that I’ve got your attention…..

Let’s talk some about GIS and how it can relate to the National Weather Service…….

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

what is a gis
What is a GIS?
  • Geographic Information System
  • DEFINITION: An organized collection of computer hardware, software, geographic data, and personnel designed to efficiently capture, store, update, manipulate, analyze, and display all forms of geographically referenced information

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

gis data
GIS Data
  • Collection of:
    • Points
      • Surface observations
    • Lines
      • Hurricane tracks
      • Tornado trajectories
    • Polygons
      • Short-fuse warnings (TOR, SVR, FFW, SMW)
      • Watches (SPC Outline)
      • Other watches/warnings using preexisting polygons such as county outlines
    • 3-dimensional objects
      • Volumetric river basins

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

gis data formats
GIS Data Formats
  • Most commonly used standard is the ESRI “shapefile”, which is widely supported across industry.
  • Each shapefile (also known as a theme or layer) is composed of at least three file components which describe the geographic (latitude/longitude) coordinates and data attributes that make up each shape

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

gis software
GIS Software
  • Desktop
    • ESRI ArcGIS
    • ESRI ArcView
    • MapDesk
    • Public Domain: GRASS
  • Server
    • ESRI ArcIMS
    • ESRI ArcGIS Server
    • Public Domain: UMinn Mapserver
  • Non-GIS Software
    • AWIPS (uses shapefiles)

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

nws data
NWS Data
  • Uses formats not familiar to GIS users:
    • WMO GRIB1 & 2
      • NDFD Grids
      • NCEP Models
    • WMO Binary Universal Form for the Representation (BUFR) of meteorological data
      • Soundings etc.
    • Level II & Level III radar
      • Unique binary format in radial format around a single station

ALL are already georeferenced!

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

convergence
Convergence

Looking for ways to merge hydrometeorologic data with GIS

  • Convert NWS data sets into georeferenced, GIS-friendly formats
  • Disseminate NWS data using GIS structure such as Internet Mapping Systems

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

one example
One Example…
  • Converting warning polygons into GIS/georeferenced data files

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

slide21
Archiving short-fused NWS warnings since mid-2003.

Converting then-little-used polygons at the bottom of the warnings to GIS data sets using AWIPS and freeware software tools

Interesting patterns result, especially when the warning sets are shown over time…

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

step 1 capture the polygon points
Step 1: Capture the polygon points
  • Set up a “trigger” mechanism in AWIPS to capture all short-term warnings:
    • TOR – tornado warnings
    • SVR – severe thunderstorm warnings
    • FFW – flash flood warnings
    • SMW – special marine warnings

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

step 2 parse the warning text
Step 2: Parse the warning text

Extract all the needed information:

Issue Time

UGC

Expiration Time

VTEC line

….and….of course…

…the polygon vertices

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

step 3 at scheduled intervals update the flat file database
Step 3: At scheduled intervals update the “flat file” database
  • Using only open source (“freeware”) software
    • Code written in Perl
    • Polygon values formatted in ESRI “gen” format
  • “gen” format is common ASCII format that ESRI products can convert to/from using scripts
  • Check for new warnings each minute –and- check for expired warnings each minute as well

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

slide26

The long-term database can then be used in a variety of ways to provide post-analysis and to look for trends (both weather-related as well as policy-related)

  • Examples:
    • Area of polygon (warned areas)
    • Verification studies (e.g. compare LSR with warnings
    • Provide summaries of storm seasons

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

examples tornado warnings 2004
Examples – Tornado Warnings 2004

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

examples flash flood warnings in 2004
Examples – Flash Flood Warnings in 2004

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

special marine warnings
Special Marine Warnings

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

converting lsr data into gis shapefiles
Converting LSR Data into GIS Shapefiles

TORNADO REPORTS Jan-Jun 2005

Note the remarkable paucity of confirmed tornado reports for 2005!

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

in contrast to
…in contrast to….

One remarkable day, May 30th 2004 when severe weather broke out from Texas to Iowa to the Carolinas

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

gis allows interactive analysis such as overlaying polygon warnings with storm reports
GIS Allows Interactive Analysis Such as Overlaying Polygon Warnings With Storm Reports

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

converting lsr data into gis shapefiles34
Converting LSR Data into GIS Shapefiles

HAIL REPORTS Jan-Jun 2005

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

converting lsr data into gis shapefiles35
Converting LSR Data into GIS Shapefiles

WIND REPORTS Jan-Jun 2005

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

flash flood warnings the most county based of all four short fuse warning types
Flash Flood Warningsthe most “county-based” of all four short-fuse warning types

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

applications for viewing polygon warnings
Applications For Viewing Polygon Warnings
  • CONUS map showing warnings, updated each minute: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/regsci/gis/
  • ArcIMS map service for historical viewing: http://www.prh.noaa.gov/regsci/gis/
  • Texas A&M Site (warnings + radar): http://www.prh.noaa.gov/regsci/gis/warn.html
  • Iowa Mesonet: http://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/GIS/apps/rview/warnings.phtml
  • New NWS RIDGE Site:

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/RIDGE

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

arcims map service http www prh noaa gov regsci gis warn html
ArcIMS Map Servicehttp://www.prh.noaa.gov/regsci/gis/warn.html

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

includes lsr data from spc
Includes LSR data from SPC

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

iowa environmental mesonet http mesonet agron iastate edu gis apps rview warnings phtml
Iowa Environmental Mesonethttp://mesonet.agron.iastate.edu/GIS/apps/rview/warnings.phtml

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

new ridge site hosted on srh server
New RIDGE Site (hosted on SRH server)

Uses web technology to “simulate” an Internet map server

Allows several different radar products (including SRM) on top of hillshaded topography, roads, counties, rivers

Includes ability to animate and zoom

…and….an overlay of the active warnings in effect at the time of the radar image

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

where do we go from here
Where do we go from here…..?
  • Look at a new type of All-Hazards radio
    • Focusing on points in space rather than geopolitical counties
    • Fixed radio could be programmed with location (either latitude/longitude, or relative to major city [e.g., 20 mi NW of Houston]
    • Moving radios (including cell phones, PDA devices, all-hazard radios in cars, buses, trains) could be located using the now more commonly found GPS units

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

new noaa radio concept
New NOAA Radio Concept

Warning issued for Okmulgee and

McIntosh Counties. New NWR’s use latitude/longitude (or city) rather than county/SAME code.

Residents in Checotah will not be alerted but residents in Stidham are, even though both are in McIntosh County.

GPS-enabled cell phones/cars travelling on I-40 within polygon would be alerted also.

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

where do we go from here47
Where do we go from here…..?
  • Automated GIS techniques
    • Greatly facilitate verification
    • Provide more statistics (e.g., how many people were warned with each warning by linking to population databases)
    • More robust web dissemination possibilities --- including the ability to provide custom information based on user criteria
      • ONE WARNING: care must be taken to consider private sector concerns here as some businesses are also taking this road

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

private sector opportunities
Private Sector Opportunities

Why not work WITH private sector. Some private sector companies are already strongly endorsing the polygon warning methods

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

why gis
Why GIS….?
  • Compatibility with many other public, private, and government agencies that already use GIS data for their work and analysis
  • GIS has great analysis capabilities…able to do “what if” analysis and look for trends
  • Using polygon warnings we can provide better service by highlighting where the real threat is without worrying about geopolitical boundaries

4. A BETTER SERVICE TO OUR PUBLIC!

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region

questions
Questions?
  • My Website:
    • http://www.prh.noaa.gov/hq/regsci/gis

Ken Waters

Regional Scientist

NWS Pacific Region

Honolulu, Hawaii

Ken.waters@noaa.gov

(808) 532-6413

Ken Waters, NWS Pacific Region