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Item SR-17: Comprehensive Tropical Training for WFO Forecasters A National Initiative. Frank Alsheimer Andrew Devanas Jeral Estupiñán Matthew Moreland Pablo Santos David Sharp Shannon White. Mission Connection.

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item sr 17 comprehensive tropical training for wfo forecasters a national initiative

Item SR-17: Comprehensive Tropical Training for WFO ForecastersA National Initiative

Frank Alsheimer

Andrew Devanas


Matthew Moreland

Pablo Santos

David Sharp

Shannon White

mission connection
Mission Connection
  • Landfalling tropical cyclones (e.g., hurricanes and tropical storms; typhoons) are a significant and recurring threat to the lives and property of our citizens.
  • Since a large percentage of our nation’s population and corresponding business interests is located near the coast, a single hurricane event can result in large economic impacts.
  • Among hazardous weather phenomena for which the NWS directly provides decision support, (major) landfalling hurricanes place the greatest demand upon our mission delivery system (e.g., products and services).
required knowledge skills i
Required Knowledge & Skills I
  • There is a lack of operations experience in working tropical cyclone events at some field offices, particularly among forecasters located at inland offices and coastal offices that have longer return periods for tropical cyclone occurrences.
    • This has had a limiting effect on the acquisition and retention of skill sets needed to work such events.
  • Within universities, many atmospheric science departments do not demand tropical meteorology coursework of their students (especially undergraduates).
    • This has had a limiting effect on the knowledge base of our field forecasters relative to tropical cyclones.
required knowledge skills ii
Required Knowledge & Skills II
  • To date, there is no comprehensive tropical training available from the NWS as with other Advanced Warning Operations Courses (AWOC/Severe, AWOC/Winter, etc.).
    • This, too, has had a limiting effect on the ability for field forecasters to remain current in the latest science and proficient in new applications.
  • In other words, WFO forecaster expertise is not being cultivated relative to tropical operations, from an institutional perspective.
    • Note: The COMET online tropical meteorology course/book is helpful toward understanding certain science issues, but it lacks connection to WFO operations.
articulating the problem
Articulating the Problem
  • For any one location, hurricanes are low frequency events. Related training is often deemed a “future priority.”
  • However, hurricanes are high impact events for which the NWS is expected to provide a high level of service that is subject to an ever-increasing customer demand.
    • e.g., External products are triggered on the issuance of the HLS. If offices are issuing the initial HLS at times ranging from 15 minutes to over an hour after the TCV issuance, this causes problems for our partners.
  • PROBLEM: Collectively, WFO forecasters do not all sufficiently possess the expertise needed to meet current customer demand toward the protection of life, property, economic interests, and ecologic interests.
    • More so, as the demand for Decision Support Services increases, this gap will widen unless investment is made soon to cultivate forecaster expertise relative to tropical cyclone operations.
recommended focus
Recommended Focus
  • Threat Assessment
    • By hazard
    • Physical science considerations
  • Impact Recognition
    • Threat assessments interpreted to potential impacts
    • Customer thresholds
  • Message Communication
    • “One message”
    • Social science considerations

Communicate Message

WFO Tropical Operations

“Forecast & Decision Support Cycle”



Coordination and Consistency of Message



Start / Repeat

General Customer

Interpret Impacts

Assess Threat

threat assessment some suggested topics
Threat Assessment(some suggested topics)
  • Fundamentals of Tropical Meteorology (core skill set)
    • Principles of Physical Science (atmospheric and oceanic components)
    • Tropical Cyclone characteristics
    • Basin Climatologies
    • Wind Field Distribution (strength, symmetry, etc.)
    • Rainband Tornadoes
    • Wave/Swell Dynamics (see wind field distribution)
    • Storm Surge and Tide
    • Inland (Flash) Flooding
  • Forecast Methodology
    • “Tropical” forecast funnel approach
    • The role of probabilistic guidance/forecasts (wind, surge, qpf, etc)
    • Completing the Forecast Picture
  • Operational Components
    • Storm Surge/Slosh modeling
      • SLOSH model assumptions/strength/weakness
      • Proper use of MOMs/MEOWs (strength/weakness)
    • Tropical Cyclones Model Guidance
    • National Center Guidance and Product Interpretation
    • Mesoscale Implications (tropical cyclones as mesoscale convective systems)
impact recognition some suggested topics
Impact Recognition(some suggested topics)
  • Customer Thresholds
    • “A disaster is no time for introductions.”
  • Local Effects
    • Terrain, elevation, exposure, surface roughness, inland decay, etc.
  • Role of WFO Forecaster
    • WFO Products & Services
    • Understanding probabilistic guidance
    • ERMETs
  • Updating Forecast/Warning Databases
    • Proper use of available tools and products
  • Operational Settings
    • Staffing an event
    • Assigning responsibilities
communicate message some suggested topics
Communicate Message(some suggested topics)
  • “The Hurricane Problem”
    • Mitigation, Preparation, Response, Recovery
  • Expressing Uncertainty
    • Proper use of probabilistic information
  • How to Craft a Message (design & goals)
    • “One Message” (a unified and coherent message)
    • Avoiding “meteorology speak” (speaking in the customer’s language)
  • Communicating a Message
    • Verbal, textual, video, graphical, gridded, etc.
    • Web products, GIS-interfaces, Customer briefings
  • Supporting Customer Decision Thresholds
    • Understanding customer planning cycles; incorporating customer input and feedback
  • The Decision Support Cycle
    • Assess threat, interpret impacts, communicate message … Repeat … Repeat …Repeat
a proposal
A Proposal
  • An endorsement for the authors to coordinate with regional training representatives, training division representatives, and subject matter experts regarding the prospect for developing tropical operations training material.
  • Produce a Performance Needs Statement (PNS) to initiate NSTEP process for FY13 by January 13, 2012.
  • Produce a draft outline for an Advanced Tropical Operations Course by Spring 2012.
  • Refine and submit for consideration within the FY2013 NSTEP process.
proposed formats
Proposed Formats
  • Workshop (original concept; hands-on; interactive)
    • Completion of prerequisite online training to qualify
    • 2.5 to 3 days
    • Each day to address one of three vertices on operations triangle (threat, impacts, communication)
    • Certificate of Completion
  • Online Module Series
    • Broken into three segments (as described above)
    • Include hands-on assignments and exercises
    • Certificate of Completion
weather ready nation wrn a closing comment
Weather Ready Nation (WRN)(a closing comment)
  • Recall that a stated goal for WRN is to “Improve weather decision support services for events that threaten lives and livelihoods.”
    • Few events threaten lives and livelihoods as extensively as landfalling tropical cyclones.
  • Item SR-14 of the 2011 NOAA Hurricane Conference entitled “Creating a Tropical Operations Short Course/Workshop for ERMETs” proposes complementary training scoped specifically for ERMETs located at Southern Region WRN Pilot Project locations (for spring 2012; limited in scope).
    • As proposed, this interactive training is intended to focus on the provision of decision support services to sophisticated users during the pre-event, event, and post-event phases of tropical cyclones.
    • Some of the developed course material can be transitioned to the proposed Advanced Tropical Operations Course.