Amy Sebring: Good morning/afternoon everyone and Happy New
Year! Welcome back to EMForum.org and we are very glad you could
join us. I am Amy Sebring and will serve as your Host and Moderator
As you may know, the National Weather Service is in the process of
installing the new, Dual Polarization radars at WFOs across the
country. These provide enhanced capabilities and it is a good idea
for emergency managers to have at least a basic understanding. In
researching this topic, I came across the NWS Warning Decision Training
Branch and the resources they offer, and we are very glad they accepted
our invitation to join us today.
Now it is my pleasure to introduce today’s speaker: Andrew Wood
works with the University of Oklahoma (OU) Cooperative Institute for
Mesoscale Meteorological Studies (CIMMS) on assignment with the Training
Branch. Andy has led the Dual-Polarization Radar Training for NWS
Partner outreach efforts for the past four years.
Please see today’s Background Page for further biographical information
and links to related resources that will be mentioned during the
Welcome Andy, and thank you very much for taking the time to be with us
again today. I now turn the floor over to you to start us off please.
Andy Wood: I’m very glad to be here today. As Amy
said I work for the Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological
Studies at the University of Oklahoma and I am co-located with the
Warning Decision Training Branch and I do a lot of work with them in
developing their training.
I want to talk to you a little bit today about WDTB and some of the
resources we have available online that emergency managers might find
useful in particular talking about our Dual-Polarization Radar Training
You can see this motley crew here is our branch and we are a mixture of
federal, contractor and University of Oklahoma employees. What we
do with the Warning Decision Training Branch is develop and deliver
training with the whole integrated process of warnings in the National
Weather service. I’ll get into some of the details of that in a
little bit. We really do try to look at the process as a whole.
That is a nice little mission statement but when it gets into the actual
practice of what we really do we teach the science, technology and
human factors of radar interpretation as well as the general warning
process. You would think talking about radar that it would
specifically be severe weather warning operations—which we do a lot of,
that’s kind of our bread and butter—but we do quite a bit also with
flash flood warning operations as well as winter weather warning
operations. Our mantra so to speak is when we develop our training
we work very much on base data interpretation and in doing so helping
forecasters build expertise and maintain situational awareness during
To give you an overview, WDTB is part of the Office of Climate, Water
and Weather Services (OCCWS) which is located in Weather Service
Headquarters. We are one of three federal agencies in OCCWS.
The Warning Decision Training Branch is located in Normal, Oklahoma.
There is also the Forecast Decision Training Branch in Boulder, Colorado
as well as the National Weather Service Training Center in Kansas
City. In addition to those three federal agencies we also have a
partnership with COMET up in Boulder where they also develop quite a bit
of training that gets incorporated into Weather Service training.
That is the big umbrella of the Weather Service Training division so you can have all of that in perspective.
We do science and technology as well as human factors training.
The Dual-Pol (ed. note: pronounced as dual pole) training is a good
example of melding the science and technology training of what we
do. With the Dual-Pol training—it is Dual-Polarization Technology
and a lot of us meteorologists call it Dual-Pol. You will probably hear
me go back and forth between the two quite a bit. It is kind of a short
hand thing to say it that way,
The Dual-Polarization Technology upgrade is the biggest upgrade to the
88D since it was first fielded in the nineties. It was a big
process to try to identify what training was needed, how we were going
to deliver it, what was going to be the scope of it and I’ll get more
into those details in a little bit. That is a prime example of the
type of science and technology training that we do.
We talk about human factors and when you talk about a science agency in
the government some people may think—why are you focusing on human
factors? Human factors are a really big part of the warning
process. We have done quite a bit of work with root cause analysis
and post mortems of different events.
For instance with tornadic events we have found through working with
forecast offices that when you look at the factors that contribute to
tornado events and missed events, human factors are a significant
portion of what can be talked to and corrected that might help prevent
these missed events in the future.
Certainly science and technology are parts of the puzzle but human
factors are really a big part of it. We try to emphasize that as
much as we can when it is relevant.
To provide an example of what we do in terms of human factors
training—one of the courses that we developed this year is
“Communicating Risks in High Impact Events”.
What we’ve done is talk with forecast offices and taken their stories
and linked them together and tried to put that into the context of the
broader crisis communication cycle—how they can better work with
partners like you with the emergency management community and other
communities as well—and trying to do a better job communicating what we
know in a way that is relevant to you.
A lot of times doing this type of training can be challenging because it
is really about communication and getting to know who you are working
with and building those relationships. As you’ll see in the types
of training we do that is not always easy to do especially for those of
us in the technology field.
It has been a learning process as we built up the expertise in that area.
In addition to focusing on science, technology and human factors our
ultimate goal is to impact warning performance in a positive way.
How do we do that? Our focus tends to be to look at what are the
outcomes we want to accomplish and then build learning objectives off of
that and also to a degree build our performance objectives off of that
One example and I think this came from one of our service assessments
during a flash flood event that was pretty big. I think it
impacted the most of the Southeast a couple of years ago. We were
looking at ways weather forecasters could improve their performance and
how they deliver their products.
For instance, one of the big things that have come along in the last few
years is the use of flash flood emergency wording in a flash flood
warning product. One of the things that was found as a result of
that service assessment is that there were more events that could be
classified in a way that using that language would be beneficial to
partners then was actually being used.
That tool was being under-utilized. In the training we put
together we tried to clarify when it was appropriate to use that type of
wording. Lo and behold after that training was released there was
a big bump-up to probably a more appropriate level because of
that. That is one way we impacted performance based on
training. We try to focus in on things like that as much as we can
to help you all.
In terms of the type of training and how we reach people we utilized a
lot of techniques. Most of you are probably used to the old
in-residence training. I think that is still most people’s
favorite way to attend training and participate but as you can see it is
really a small portion, at least in terms of students, of what we do.
A lot of that is related to cost and the way things are. Twenty
years ago when we did the original 88D training, that is how we did
everything—in-residence. Now it is a really much smaller
subset. We do rely more on instructor led training much like these
webinars. We do quite a bit of that here.
Pretty much our bread and butter is web-based training which is how,
when we need to reach the entire Weather Service forecast community, we
do it as well as developing simulations for working different types of
events. Every forecaster who has warning responsibility is
supposed to complete four simulations per year. That is another
way we can reach the community as a whole.
It is very time intensive. So we reach everybody but it is still
not always the easiest way to get to everybody. The web-based
modules tend to be our bread and butter in terms of providing the most
breadth of training we have available.
That sort of thing is actually good for you all though. That means a lot
of the training we have is available online that people can take.
I just put up a handful of examples of training that certainly may be
applicable to the emergency management community. Some of them are
things like the Dual-Polarization Radar Training and I have that linked
Some of it is also related to the human factors training we do.
One course we have done in the past few years is the integrated warning
team which is based on work we have done at different conferences where
we really tried to get the Weather Service forecasters, the emergency
managers and the media to try on different roles so you walk a mile in
the other person’s shoes and get a better understanding of what their
job is like and what they need to do.
We developed training on that. We also have the course I mentioned
earlier about communicating risks in high impact events.
Certainly that could be beneficial to you all because you can see what
we are training our own staff about you and your needs during these
types of events. You can certainly see how we are doing things.
Other things that may be a little more science and technology based—EF
scale training—certainly that is something that may be significant to a
lot of you who deal with severe weather and tornados. In
particular I know this would be useful with the Weather Service when
they are going out to survey an event.
If you have a good rudimentary understanding of the EF scale and how it
works we can benefit from you knowing what area is most likely going to
have the highest rating so we can streamline the process of where to
send people to survey an event and find out where the worst damage is
and it helps us to stay out of your hair. That way we can see what is
bad, report it to who we need to and stay out of your way as much as
possible. I think there is some mutual benefit there.
Lastly something that I don’t know if a lot of people understand is the
role that wind farms play in data quality with the radar. We’ve put
together a briefing. It is really more for the winds energy
community to help them understand but I also think it is something that
emergency managers might benefit from especially as more and more wind
farms start popping up around the country. You may see some data
quality issues and not quite understand what is going on in those
areas. You see what might impact understanding your weather data
around those wind farms. That might be really helpful.
That is an overview of WDTB and what we do. Now I want to talk a
little bit about our Dual-Pol Training Initiative. As I said
earlier, Dual-Polarization Technology and Dual-Pol are interchangeable
terms. For the meteorologist in me it is too easy to refer back to
acronyms and technical speech so I apologize for going back and forth
between them. I try to spell that out as best I can.
The Dual-Polarization technology upgrade to 88D is the most significant
change to the radar since it was originally fielded. One of the
challenges to it is all the radar data and products you had before are
still there. The Dual-Polarization Technology is just an add-on to
what we had before.
In theory you could keep doing what you did before and you should see
almost no impact based on Dual-Pol but you have all these additional
products that are available. It is a process of trying to get
people to take that new data and integrate it into how they are already
working. There are benefits to that because it allows you to take
things baby-step wise and piece by piece add things.
It is also one of those situations that whenever you are confronted with
something new like this and you can keep doing things the way you used
to do them it is really easy to do that so people may not necessarily
gravitate to this new information no matter how helpful it is.
There are pros and cons there with this.
Just to give you an understanding of where we are at with the Dual-Pol
upgrade—I have this map of the sites around the country. The red
sites are the radars that have already been upgraded. You can see
most of the country has been upgraded. Most of the sites that are
left are either in the Central U.S., the Midwest or Hawaii, Alaska and
some other locations.
The gray dots are the sites that are currently down being
upgraded. The blue sites are the one that are left to be upgraded
over the next several months. You can see the area in the South
Central part of the U.S. is where the upgrades are currently happening.
When we started working on the training solution for Dual-Pol and how we
were going to reach everybody and train them one of the things we
realized very early on was yes the weather community was going to need
this training but we really needed to take a look at partners and what
we were going to do for them.
The last time we tried to put together a training initiative of this
size was back in the nineties with the original radar. We realized
that this is a different world. There is so much more information
available. Users are going to have much better access to this data
although it has been a little slow going to this point but it is
definitely easier for users outside the Weather Service to access radar
data now than it was back then. We realized we needed to provide
as much information to people so that as this data became available they
might be able to use it in a positive way.
We have our Weather Service Operations course but I was going to talk about our partner’s training in that initiative.
Even in that role when we talk about training to partners we realized we
had two different needs. We have trained meteorologists outside
the Weather Service and how we would provide training to them but we
also have non-meteorologist decision makers which a lot of the emergency
management community fit into that role.
They are fairly savvy and they have experience with radar data but they
may not necessarily have the same meteorological background as a trained
meteorologist. So we needed to provide relevant training to both
of those communities and help them as much as we could. We
realized early on that even in this role we were still going to have two
different training solutions we needed.
What we decided to do for the trained meteorologists is we made the same
course that was available for the Weather Service forecasters available
to them. The one thing we needed to do was create a separate
introduction to the course because the media and other private companies
have different interfaces for looking at weather data and differences
in mission and whatnot that the Weather Service is going to take for
granted. We needed to highlight those differences.
As they went through the course they would understand those things and
realize, “Some of this may not be one hundred percent applicable to me
and my job but it is going to be fairly close.”
In terms of partners that was going to be a different animal. We
realized we had to focus more on what Dual-Polarization Technology
is. Unlike most science training where the focus tends to start at
the base science level as a fundamental and build up we actually
reversed it and focused on the benefits of the technology and use that
as a foundation to build off of, so people may not start off right away
trying to interpret the data but at least you have an understanding of
what it is and why it is important and then kind of build to the actual
products from there.
One of the things that is important especially with some of the benefits
that come along with Dual-Pol that are significant, we also wanted to
make sure people understand what aspects of the radar hadn’t
changed. There are certain limitations that are significant that
people need to realize are still there. We tried to highlight both
of those things.
As an end result after all that we tried to at least provide a few basic
applications for non-meteorologist who might want to use this data—just
to highlight some of what this is.
If nothing else for the emergency management community Dual-Polarization
Technology helps because it helps the Weather Service do a better
job. It will help them provide better service to you. It
gives them a lot more confidence about certain things they are looking
at, especially things like hail, during winter weather events and even
tornadic events. There are a lot of things where we have already
seen significant improvement that helps forecasters understand what is
going on better and help them change how they communicate what they know
Some experienced EMs may be able to make use of this data in the right
circumstances. Our guidance to you is the most important thing about
Dual-Pol is you have to use it in context of other radar products.
If you are comfortable using reflectivity and velocity whenever you are
looking at Dual-Polarization products, whether it is base data or
algorithms, you need to look at them in context of what you are
comfortable with reflectivity and velocity.
It is also important to know their limitations especially when you are
talking about things like winter weather and where snow and rain are
being indicated in the radar products; understanding some of the
physical limitations that radar has is really important when it comes to
determining precipitation type at the ground.
As with all things it is important when working with the Weather Service
to trust your local experts in terms of communication and information
sharing. While a lot of offices are still coming up to
speed—obviously some offices still don’t have Dual-Pol in their
area—they are going through training and getting experience on a daily
basis with the new data. I think they can help you out with some
of this if you are taking on using this data on a regular basis.
In terms of our partner training for non-meteorologists, some of the
things we have in there we talk a little bit about how the Dual-Pol
Radar works. We try to keep things where they are no
technical. I use some slide shows of images of radar sending out a
beam, how it can perceive precipitation—it can have a variety of
precipitation there as that radar pulse gets reflected back.
In highlighting differences, say that the old legacy radar data which
gave you information about size because it would scan thing
horizontally, versus Dual-Pol which gives you more information about the
general shape of precipitation as well as the variety because it scans
both horizontally and vertically. That additional information
helps better understand things because of that.
We also try to talk about the benefits. We try to keep things
relatively clear and focus on a few things that are the most important
to partner community. In terms of building expertise it is going
to take time. We see down the road in several years where all
forecasters are going to be able to use this data and we are going to
have these clear benefits.
Forecasters are still learning. There is a bit of a learning curve
that comes with Dual-Pol. Some of these benefits are in the
process of being worked out. Last year because we had such a mild
winter I think forecasters felt like they lost the year because there
were so few winter events, especially with where the radars were
situated, that we didn’t get as much expertise last winter as we would
have liked with Dual-Pol out in the field.
Hopefully after this winter things will be a lot better and people will
be more comfortable using this data. There are things like that
happening. It is going to be the same thing with tornados.
Last year was not the most active tornado year. Certain places
that had them are a lot more comfortable with it like the Southeast with
some of the outbreaks they had.
There are other parts of the country where they didn’t have any severe
weather tornado-wise at all. It may take them a couple of years
before they have some events to really feel like they got the expertise
to move forward.
Talking about that—I chose this slide just as an example of a tornadic
debris signature. It became a hot topic last year with
forecasters. It is something you all probably need to know
especially those of you—depending on what your media market is like and
how much they break in. You are going to start hearing more about
this in the media this spring.
Some of the providers of weather graphics to TV stations are trying to
come up with ways of automating detection of tornadic debris signature
so you will probably see icons and things like that where they start
talking about debris signatures and ‘ok we’re confirming tornados
here’. There may be a learning curve on the media side as well as
the emergency manager side.
You are not going to know if you have local chase crews that go out if
this is a person that is spotting it or if you are basing it on
radar. There is going to be a lot there you will want to be aware
of as this becomes more and more prevalent. From your point of view it
is one of the things—I know in our training we are very optimistic about
debris signatures and how they will help.
It certainly does not diminish the need for local spotters. They
are still by far the most important thing we have in terms of spotting
tornados and tracking just because of some of the limitations of radar,
but with the Dual-Pol tornadic signature in areas where you don’t have
spotters available or where the tornado is not really visible because it
is rain wrapped or it is at night.
It is going to be most beneficial as storms are closer to the radar but
what we are finding is that the range at which tornadic debris can be
detected using Dual-Pol data is a little better than we thought.
We are still not very good at hard and fast rules about distance because
a lot of that is going to vary on some other factors. It is
fairly promising out say about fifteen nautical miles from the radar
that if there is significant debris lofted by a tornado we would be able
to detect it by radar.
We also want to talk about some of the radar limitations. For
instance we like to remind people that with radars they don’t
necessarily see at the ground. Far away from radar you are not
going to see things very well that are near to the ground just likewise
close to the radar you are not going to see things that are high
aloft. We try to include that in the information and training—just
a handful of things just to remind people of that.
That is just a snippet of what is in the training. In terms of the
partner training the total duration is about one or two hours for the
non-meteorologist. It is approximately six hours for the
meteorologist outside the Weather Service. That gives you an
example of that.
In summary the Warning Decision Training Branch provides weather
training on the NWS warning process and the tools forecasters use during
that. There is a heavy focus on radar but there are other
technology things we train on related to that. Most of the
training we do is available online. If you go to our website you can
Emergency managers may find some of the training we do useful.
Some of you may find it more useful than others. It depends on
your location and what your needs are. I talked a little about the
Dual-Polarization technology upgrade just because that is something
that is going to affect most of you in some form or another in the
emergency management community.
There is my contact information and I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.
Amy Sebring: Thank you very much Andy, that was a very
good overview. Now If we do have questions or comments from our audience
members we are ready to begin now. So please enter your comment or
question at any time.
[Audience Questions & Answers]
Amy Sebring: Is the training something you can stop and go back to?
Andy Wood: It is. The way the partner training is
set up is there are three lessons. The first lesson is the longer
one. It is about 45 minutes to an hour long. I tried to
chunk it in a way that if you did one section of it and you needed to
take a break you could. The software, if you are doing it on the
same machine one of the things that is nice is when you take it, even if
you close the browser and you come back to it, it should ask you if you
want to continue where you were.
As long as there aren’t multiple people taking it on the same machine it
should help you get back to where you were when you first took it.
Michael Boldosser: Briefly, what effects do wind farms have on radar depictions?
Andy Wood: That actually is a great question. Wind farms,
especially if you have them in your area, they are very big and very
reflective. The radar picks up on them very well. One of the
problems is the radar engineers are pretty good at identifying ground
clutter and filtering it out of the radar data that gets sent out.
Part of the problem is to filter out the clutter usually the two things
you need is for them to be stationary and to have no velocity component
in the data. It needs to not be moving and the data needs to
suggest in the velocity data that it is not moving—the way the
algorithms are written to remove that signal from the data, it needs
The problem with wind farms is when the turbines are spinning they do
not appear stationary. They appear to be moving. As wind
farms come online the forecasters have to create special zones around
the wind farm to make it filter out the signal as much as
possible. Unfortunately during certain types of weather you can
still see symptoms of the wind farms pop up and be visible in the radar
Depending on your location and where these things are it can cause
problems. If the wind farm is close enough to the radar even
though you may be mitigating impacts of the wind farm in that particular
location than can be some beam blockage issues downstream if it is very
close to the radar.
Amy Sebring: Does the Dual-Pol help identify flocks of migrating birds those kinds of things?
Andy Wood: It actually does. There are some
ornithology people who are interested in looking at Dual-Pol data.
This will sound strange but there is a lot of stuff we saw on radar in
the past that we didn’t think was weather so we ignored it. Now
with Dual-Pol data it helps you look at it and wonder what it is really.
With Dual-Pol data—if it is an area where you think it is birds the data
will look different whether the birds are flying to or from the radar
or if they are flying parallel to how the radar beam is sampling.
Even the shape of the bird, whether it is sampling it head-on or
sampling it looking at the wings flapping up and down, you can see a
difference in the data from that.
Timothy Marshall: How do mountains and hills affect the dual-pol radar?
Andy Wood: They are affected in similar ways to the
conventional radar data. You do get some beam blockage that can
affect the data downstream of mountains and hills. You do have
that problem there. Both the base data and algorithms can be
impacted from that.
There is at least one product called ‘specific differential
phase’—without trying to get too technical it is a proxy for how much
liquid water is in the atmosphere where the radar is sampling so it is a
very useful product for heavy rain or possibly flash flooding.
The one thing that is really good about that product is that it tends to
be immune from some of these beam blockage issues. It will still
be impacted somewhat downstream of mountains just because of sampling
issues but it is more resilient than other radar products just because
of how it is computed.
The other big base products for Dual-Polarization Technology are
‘differential reflectivity’ which looks at the difference between the
vertical and horizontal reflectivity. If you look at that at all you
will notice that the differential reflectivity near hilly terrain will
appear very negative which would indicate that you have something
oriented vertically that the radar is sampling, which would make sense
when you are talking about hills and mountains. So that is
something you might see as artifacts when you look at that data. Those
are probably two of the bigger things.
Amy Sebring: Does Dual-Pol help improve the accuracy of estimating rainfall amounts?
Andy Wood: Sort of. In the big scheme of things it should
help significantly. What we have found so far, both from research
on Dual-Polarization radars before these were fielded and in what has
been put out there, is that radar detected rain that is below the
melting layer where temperatures were freezing, when it samples that
precipitation there seems to be improvement in the amounts that are
Where things start getting tricky is when you start getting into the
bright band and especially above the bright band. Part of that is
the algorithm that was developed using the Dual-Pol data is still in its
infancy and it really just needs more data and more research to be done
on how to tune it, especially tune it locally, to get the best quality
estimates. I think that benefit will be there but it will be a few
years before it gets there. Especially during the winter season
it seems to have the biggest problems. When the freezing level is
very low so it is sampling snow and frozen precipitation higher up and
it is mostly rain at the surface then your amounts can get skewed.
Amy Sebring: They will conduct more research to collect
data on actual rainfall accumulations and compare them and use it to
Andy Wood: They are hoping to do that over the next few
years. With funding situations being what they are it may take
longer. That is their number one priority in terms of future
Amy Sebring: Has there been any outreach to the spotter community about this?
Andy Wood: There has been some. The training we
did—we tried to take more of the national tact to make stuff
available. We tried to reach out through some of the typical
Weather Service vehicles. There is a newsletter that they put out
called “Aware” where we have tried to reach out.
Because so many of the local offices—the warning coordinator
meteorologist is in charge of that—we have tried to work with them as
well for their spotter community. They are leading the way on
it. We are trying to provide materials for them to do their job.
Larry Lovering: What is the difficulty of detecting virga of rain or snow versus the precipitation falling all the way to the ground?
Andy Wood: Larry asks a great question. Virga is
precipitation that is falling but isn’t reaching the ground. It is
a difficult issue. It is a limitation with radar that is always
going to be there.
It is one of the points we make in the training because it is not even
just when you have precipitation falling and whether it is reaching the
ground but also the issue of with Dual-Pol and precipitation type, you
may be detecting frozen precipitation (snow) at a certain location but
because the atmosphere is different below the radar beam it is actually
melted or sleet at the surface.
Those are things where forecasters are going to have to take radar data
with surface observations with model data and all of that to help them
understand what they are seeing and taking that message and
communicating it to the public. It is a difficulty but the thing
about Dual-Pol is that it gives you more information at the point the
radar is sampling so it helps the forecaster. Virga is going to be
virga and there will always be issues with that if you don’t have
surface observations in that area where the virga might be
occurring. Even with things like precipitation type the Dual-Pol
data helps but there will always be limitations there.
Tricia Chappell: How does Dual-Pol enhance or complement "Doppler" technology?
Andy Wood: With the Doppler radar you have—even
pre-dating Doppler reflectivity data but you also had velocity
information. It complements it quite a bit in helping understand
what we are seeing in a storm. For lack of better way to do it I
think an analogy helps a little.
I tend to think of pre-Dual-Pol when you had a Doppler radar it was like
a CAT scan and a Dual-Pol it is like a MRI. It is not the same
and it is not conclusive information every time but it gives you a
clearer picture of what is going on. The Dual-Pol does not
necessarily improve the velocity information specifically but it gives
you a better understanding of the storm features you are looking at. You
have a better understanding of what is going on and getting it to make
sense. Given more time I might be able to think of specific
examples but that is it in a nutshell.
Lori Wieber: Can you speak a bit more on how industrial
stack discharges or hazardous material plumes can impact radar reading
or perhaps be tracked for response in emergency events?
Andy Wood: I don’t know of that many specific instances of
industrial releases. What I can say is I have a bit of experience
with fires and smoke plumes and Dual-Polarization data is really helpful
with smoke plumes and fires.
The nature of data for a fire is very different from
precipitation. It really stands out well in Dual-Pol data.
So if you had an industrial release that was either close to the
radar—say there was a significant ash component or particulate component
to it and it got up high enough where the radar could sample it—
Dual-Pol can help it spotting it. I just haven’t seen a case of it
yet. I would be optimistic but part of me wants to see it before I know
it is for sure.
Dual-Pol is very good with fire and military chaff if you have issues
with that in your area. Earlier I mentioned with wildlife—it is
very good at identifying areas of non-precipitation from precipitation
especially when they are going on at the same time. We had a case where
we could track a fire as a line of thunderstorms moved past it.
You could still see the fire even though it was raining around it.
Amy Sebring: What kind of feedback have you been
getting Andy? What kind of participation are you getting from
private sector meteorologists?
Andy Wood: It’s one of those things—and I totally
understand—most of my interaction has been with media meteorologists and
they really appreciate the training and understanding it better.
They are just struggling with how to communicate the information in a
way they are used to. I understand because if I had a good
clear-cut answer I would provide it to them. I just don’t
necessarily know. With at least one of the providers has been tinkering
with an automated way of identifying debris signatures and making it
where it would be easily identifiable so TV meteorologists could point
those out, like if they are zoomed into a storm and a debris signature
was there they would have some sort of icon they could put up.
I think that may start showing up this spring. It has been awhile
since I’ve heard about it. When you start talking about private
sector it gets a little muddy. I have at least seen an early
prototype of what something like that might look like at one
point. I don’t know if they have moved forward with that or not.
Some of these products, say with even something like a fire, I wouldn’t
be surprised if TV meteorologists start showing some of this stuff on TV
if it is something that can easily be shown in an image or two.
The hard thing is that context is so important with this data it can be
difficult to show what is going on in one or two images. That is
part of where the problem comes in with some of this.
Amy Sebring: Let’s mention the Storm of the Month webinars.
Andy Wood: We started doing Storm of the Month after the
Dual-Pol sites were being fielded so we’ve done fifteen of them so
far. It is a way of doing information sharing much like these
webinars. They are short. We try to keep them at about
twenty minutes. The live sessions are only available to Weather Service
staff but we record them and put them online so anybody could review
We try to get people to focus on either a single storm or people may
focus on two or three storms but maybe a specific element of that storm
related to Dual-Pol Technology. I think in one we had a fire and a
flash flood shortly thereafter so they looked at impacts of that.
There are a variety of things. We focus some on tornadic debris
signatures, fires, flash flooding and even a dust storm in Phoenix that
filled up part of one.
We try to introduce variety and try to make them timely in terms of the
season we do. We try to keep them short. One thing we do, it
takes longer to post process, but we record the primary session and as
people go through the questions and answers we try to develop some
add-on information if something comes up so that there is additional
learning that maybe didn’t come out clearly in the Q&A.
We might have been able to summarize it in a way that you can understand
this or be aware of information. We try to make it a little more
value-added as well.
Amy Sebring: Going back to the Training Branch
in general, do you know of any particular projects coming up in the
future that you might be working on?
Andy Wood: With the Dual-Polarization Technology
upgrade—that has been a big endeavor for our branch. Another one
that may not impact the emergency management community a lot is the
Weather Service is upgrading their display systems. We are doing
technology training on that. We have a lot of training we do on an
annual cycle. We have for new employees a course that takes about 100
hours of training to complete. We update that a lot.
We have follow-on to that training that we do. We have several
employees that have significant partner background. My office mate
here used to work for our state climatological service and did a lot of
work with training emergency managers on radar interpretation with them
and he always brings the emergency management perspective into what he
does and helps us .
We try to keep you guys in mind when we are doing things a lot. If
anything else comes up that would be applicable to you I’d be glad to
Amy Sebring: This new technology is in the process of
being deployed. The folks in the local weather forecasts offices
and weather coordinating meteorologists are doing this kind of outreach
on a local level. In addition to your contact information that is
another person you may want to get in touch with.
Andy Wood: For a lot of people their main outreach
activities will be kicking into gear in the next several months so this
is a great time to reach out to them. A lot of them will be severe
storm spotter classes but now is a really busy time for them and they
will be trying to reach out to everybody. There will be a lot for
them to contact them about in the near future.
Amy Sebring: Very good. We will wrap it up for today. On behalf
of Avagene, myself, and all our participants today, thank you very much
Andy for being with us today and sharing this valuable
information. We wish you continued success with your efforts in
Andy Wood: Thank you very much. I am glad that I could
participate. If people have questions my email is in there. They can
send me an email if they think of something in a couple of days from now
about the presentation I will be glad to answer it.
Amy Sebring: Our next program is scheduled for January 23rd when our topic will be a new report published by the National Academies Press, Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative.
Our guest will be the chair of the authoring committee and Director of
the University of South Carolina’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research
Institute, Susan L. Cutter. She has presented for us in the past and we
are delighted she could join us again. Please make plans to join us
Have a great afternoon everyone! We are adjourned.