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NCEP 2022 Quarter 2 Newsletter

AWC

AWC Participates in 2022 Women in Aviation International Conference

Aviation Weather Center (AWC) Senior Forecasters Amy Macpherson and Brandy Bourque along with NOAA Corps Officer John Rossi hosted booths at the 33rd annual Women in Aviation International Conference in Nashville, TN March 17-19, 2022.  With attendance of over 4000 and 176 different companies present, this was a very high energy, positive conference promoting women working in all aspects of aviation including flight students, instructors, private and commercial pilots, aircraft mechanics, the FAA, and military pilots such as those with the Space Force and NOAA Hurricane Hunters.  Forecasters Caroline Adcock and Faith Borden from Weather Forecast Office Nashville, TN were also able to join the AWC at the booth, promoting aviation services across the entire National Weather Service. In addition to the exhibit hall, leading women in the aviation industry gave powerful and inspiring speeches of their personal career experiences and challenges.  Pilots and aspiring pilots alike relayed how widely used and appreciated the AWC forecast products are across the aviation industry. Flight schools and students specifically expressed how useful and important the Graphical Forecast for Aviation (GFA) tool on the aviationweather.gov website is for them and their education.  Next year’s Women in Aviation International Conference will be held in Long Beach, CA February 23-25, 2023.

 

 

AWC Unveils Beta.AviationWeather.gov

AWC is excited to announce the release of beta.aviationweather.gov as of March 29, 2022. The new design focuses on improved consistency, supportability, mobile friendliness, performance, ease of use, and ease of new development. The Public Information Statement can be found here, and feedback is welcome.

 

CPC

Climate Prediction Center Issues 2022 Spring Outlook

The Climate Prediction Center (CPC), along with the Office of Water Prediction (OWP), issued the Spring Outlook via a press release, press teleconference, and video on March 17, 2022.  The Spring Outlook identifies areas at risk of spring flooding and expectations for temperature, precipitation and drought from April through June.  More than half of the U.S. is predicted to experience above-average temperatures this spring, with the greatest chances in the Southern Rockies and Southern Plains. Below-average temperatures are most likely in the Pacific Northwest and southeast Alaska.   Above-average precipitation is most likely in portions of the Great Lakes, Ohio Valley, mid-Atlantic and the west coast of Alaska, while below-average precipitation is forecast for portions of the Central Great Basin, Southwest, Central and Southern Rockies and Central and Southern Plains, eastward to the Central Gulf Coast.

The seasonal flood outlook indicated the potential for minor-to-moderate flood risk throughout much of the eastern half of continental U.S., including the Southeast, Tennessee Valley, lower Mississippi Valley, Ohio Valley, and portions of the Great Lakes, upper Mississippi Valley, and middle Mississippi Valley. An above-normal ice breakup and flood potential is also present in Alaska.  And due to late fall and winter precipitation, major flood risk potential is present for the Red River of the North in North Dakota and the James River in South Dakota.

Drought is again the larger issue with nearly 60% of the currently experiencing minor to exceptional drought conditions with severe to exceptional drought persisting in some areas of the West since the summer of 2020 and the recent expansion of drought to the southern Plains and Lower Mississippi Valley.   And drought is expected to persist through the Spring in many of these areas. 

The press release can be found here:

https://www.noaa.gov/media-release/spring-outlook-drought-to-persist-expand-in-us-west-and-high-plains

        

April-June Temperature Outlook (left), April-June Precipitation Outlook (middle), and March – May Flood Outlook (right).

 

SWPC

February 2022 Space Weather Event and the SpaceX Starlink Satellite Loss

On Thursday, February 3rd at 1:13 p.m. EST, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched 49 Starlink satellites to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX later reported the loss of up to 38 of the 49 satellites after encountering increased atmospheric drag due to a geomagnetic storm while performing orbit-raising maneuvers. https://www.spacex.com/updates/ (Feb 8, 2022).  A series of Earth-directed and partially Earth-directed Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) were detected by SWPC between January 29-31, 2022, and were expected to arrive at Earth on February 2nd, generating a minor geomagnetic storm on February 3rd-4th. Even though this was considered only a minor geomagnetic storm, it led to thermospheric expansion that significantly enhanced the neutral density in the LEO environment impacting the Starlink satellites.

 

SWPC had several watch, warning, and alert products in effect for this event beginning on January 31st and continuing through February 5th. Commercial satellite operators receive general forecasts, watches, warnings, and alerts through NOAA’s data and web services, but none of these products are currently specifically targeted to satellite drag at LEO. SWPC’s newest operational space weather model, the Whole Atmosphere Model - Ionosphere Plasmasphere Electrodynamics Model (WAM-IPE), implemented in July 2021, was able to capture the global neutral density enhancement which increases satellite drag. The WAM-IPE model showed increases in neutral density by more than 100% at most altitudes following the February 3rd storm (see Figure 1). These increases persisted through February 5th.

 

SWPC has been working closely with the Starlink team to analyze the upper atmosphere environment for the event. The Starlink team has started using the WAM-IPE neutral density values for their drag estimations, and motivated by this engagement with the Starlink team, SWPC is actively exploring new products tailored for satellite drag.

Figure 1. WAM-IPE simulation of neutral density (top) and density anomaly  (bottom) at 210 km during the geomagnetic storm at 13:10 UT on February 4, 2022.

 

WPC

WPC Embarks on QPF Collaborative Forecast Process Demonstration

An example of the Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE) tool used to edit and collaborate the QPF

Collaboration is foundational to the success of the NWS, and a collaborative forecast process has been a part of the NWS in various manners for decades, but not necessarily always in a uniform way. A key forecast parameter is Quantitative Precipitation Forecast (QPF), which is currently created by multiple entities in the NWS field structure [Weather Prediction Center (WPC), Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), and River Forecast Centers (RFCs)]. To improve and integrate the QPF process, and given the increased needs for NWS partners, the NWS recently initiated a collaborative forecast process (CFP) demonstration for QPF.

The QPF CFP goal is “one event, one forecast” through the delivery of a single, seamless, and coherent NWS precipitation forecast. This will be achieved by integrating input from local, regional, and national levels in a collaborative manner with clear roles and responsibilities. The objective is to improve the quality, consistency, and accuracy of QPF.

The QPF CFP demonstration began earlier this year and ramps up later this spring with a formal 12-month demonstration period where WPC, WFOs, and RFCs engage in direct collaboration of the QPF using the National Blend of Models (NBM) as a common forecast starting point. WPC plays a critical role in rallying units to agreement on a consistent forecast. A single precipitation forecast will contribute to increased and improved Impact-Based Decision Support Services (IDSS), as well as instilling confidence in, and a sense of a value among, precipitation forecasters. The QPF CFP enables highly-skilled forecasters across the Nation to leverage the best of one another’s talents to serve our partners and the public toward the NWS goal of “one event, one forecast.”

 

View past newsletters at the link below.

https://www.weather.gov/ncep/newsletter_archive