Hydrometeorological Prediction Center

2003 Accomplishment Report


1. Introduction


The year 2003 marked the beginning of a new era for National Weather Service (NWS) with the coming of the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD).  For the first time, the NDFD made high-resolution gridded forecasts widely available to NWS customers.  Many of the changes in the HPC were geared toward supporting the NDFD.  While the actual forecasts that populate the NDFD originate at the local Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), the HPC increased its interaction with local WFOs in order to facilitate the collaborative process leading to a consistent set of forecasts across the country.  HPC also made many changes to its operations to meet the needs of the WFOs better.  HPC participated in the online chat room used for coordination and collaboration, added an early medium-range guidance package, and developed new products.


The Winter Weather Experiment entered a new phase in the fall of 2003 with its expansion to include WFOs from all parts of the conterminous U.S.  The HPC served as the facilitator for collaboration sessions whenever significant winter weather events were expected.


It was an especially active year for the HPC with several significant winter storms and tropical systems impacting the U.S. 



2. Major Accomplishments


Daily Weather Map Publication Expands To Electronic Format


The NWS Daily Weather Map series, whose publication can be traced back over 100 years, went electronic in 2003.  Beginning with the first issue published in 2003, the Daily Weather Map has been available for viewing or downloading from the Internet.  The Daily Weather Map is also available by subscription, either on compact disk quarterly or via a weekly paper edition.  Complete information on the Daily Weather Map, including subscription service is available on the HPC web pages.



HPC Expands NDFD Support


HPC increased its support to the NDFD by providing additional products and services to the WFOs. 


Chat Sessions


HPC is participating in Web-based chat sessions with the WFOs using interactive software that allows text-based collaboration among WFOs and National Centers.  The HPC role is to assist WFOs in reaching a consensus at the synoptic scale.


Delta Grids


During the spring 2003, HPC began preparing and disseminating “delta grids” showing the difference between HPC forecasts and current NDFD forecasts.  The grids are for use in collaboration between the WFOs and HPC.  They are intended to make it easier for WFOs to use HPC medium-range forecast guidance without losing detail already in the higher-resolution WFO grids.  HPC began distributing the day 3 - 7 “delta grids” via AWIPS on April 15.


Operational Readiness Demonstration


HPC participated in the Interactive Forecast Preparation System (IFPS) Operational Readiness  Demonstration (ORD) which ran from June 16 through July 15.  The purpose of the ORD was to test the methodologies being developed to implement the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD).  This was the first test of the HPC “delta grids” for the medium-range period.  HPC also provided gridded quantitative precipitation forecasts (QPFs) to assist the WFOs in preparing their QPF for the NDFD. 


New Products in Support of Western Region WFOs


In response to Western Region requests, HPC developed new products to help western offices with the location of major upper-level weather patterns impacting the Rockies.  New products included experimental 500-mb forecasts.



Winter Weather Experiment


The Winter Weather Experiment (WWE) marked the start of its third year in the fall of 2003 with an expansion to include offices in all four of the conterminous U.S. NWS regions.  C See coverage maps for 2002-2003 or 2003-2004.


The final report for the experiment for 2002 - 2003 stated “Overall the WWE II met its goals.  The subjective perception by the majority of participating WFOs was the WWE met its goals by fostering collaboration which led to a coherent set of watches/warnings issued across adjacent WFO county warning areas (CWA).  HPC provided value-added guidance in support of the WWE and led a concise audio collaboration session.” 


Because of its success during the winter 2002 - 2003, the experiment was greatly expanded for the winter of 2003 - 2004.  With this expansion came new challenges, including the increased number of days when the HPC was simultaneously coordinating with two or three separate groups of offices experiencing different winter storms.  For the first time the experiment included offices in the mountainous regions of the west, where local terrain plays a very significant role in the weather.



HPC Began Development of a Confidence Factor for QPF


The quality of forecaster-prepared QPFs, especially beyond 12 hours, varies considerably from forecast to forecast.  Using funding provided by the Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) program, HPC began development of procedures based on the use of ensemble predictions to quantify the measure of uncertainty in the manually produced HPC forecasts.  Using this confidence factor, NWS River Forecast Centers (RFCs) will be better able to determine which QPFs would add to the quality of the river forecasts and therefore extend the lead time and accuracy of flow forecasts.  Jung-Sun Im is developing the techniques, which will be applied to operational HPC deterministic forecasts to generate this confidence factor.



HPC Provided Support to NWS Forecast Offices and NWS Customers for Several Major Winter Storms


February 14-18 Winter Storm Impacts Eastern Half of the United States


A complex major winter storm system gripped much of the eastern half of the nation from February 14-18.  From the plains eastward, hazardous weather included wide areas of snow, sleet, freezing rain, high winds, thunderstorms, heavy rainfall, hail and one tornado.  There was significant flooding in Kentucky and the Tennessee Valley, while blizzard conditions were experienced along the New England coast.  The HPC issued numerous storm-related products throughout the period and gave numerous interviews. 


Similar in challenge to a hurricane bearing down on the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC), HPC staff were called upon to issue accurate products to help keep the public out of harm’s way, while at the same time maintaining continuous operations despite many roads being impassable and a state of emergency being declared by the Maryland governor.  One to two feet of snow fell from West Virginia, Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, southern New York, into southern New England.  In all over 16 inches of snow fell in Washington and 28 inches in Baltimore, making this their fifth and number one heaviest winter storms, respectively. 


February 20-23 Winter Storm Affecting the Eastern U.S.


The HPC played a key role in National Weather Service support to various user groups during the winter storm affecting the eastern U.S. on February 20-23.  In addition to high winds, heavy snow, and several tornadoes, the storm was significant because it brought heavy rain to areas hit hard by rain and snow from the record-setting winter storm of the preceding Presidents’ Day weekend.  Flooding occurred from east Texas to Kentucky and southern Indiana east to the Mid-Atlantic and southern New England.  In addition to its usual complement of QPFs for the NWS River Forecast Centers and others, upon special request the HPC briefed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the rainfall potential.



HPC Assisted in Forecasting the Impacts of Several Tropical Cyclones


Tropical Storm Bill


On June 30, Tropical Storm Bill made landfall in the Louisiana delta region.  In line with existing procedures, TPC and HPC provided information on the track and impacts (winds, storm surge, inland flooding, and tornadoes) to FEMA senior leadership and state-level emergency managers from the affected states in the southeast U.S. during three audio and video teleconferences that day.  Additional support continued as Bill moved toward the Mid-Atlantic States.


Hurricane Claudette


Hurricane Claudette made landfall along the Texas coast on July 15.  More than a week earlier when the system was in the Caribbean, HPC began assisting the TPC by providing guidance forecasts of the track of the storm for seven days into the future.  Additionally, as Claudette approached the U.S. mainland, working closely with TPC, HPC provided QPFs for the storm.  HPC also supported FEMA Headquarters, its field offices, and its Hurricane Liaison Team, by delivering twice daily, live video briefings on the expected precipitation from Claudette for several days before and after landfall.  HPC assumed forecast responsibility for the storm from TPC with the Public Advisory issued at 5:00 a.m. July 16.  HPC issued its last Public Advisory 24 hours later after Claudette weakened considerably and was no longer a significant rainfall threat.


Tropical Storm Erika


Tropical Storm Erika made landfall 45 miles south of Brownsville, Texas, on August 16.  For several days before the landfall, HPC assisted the TPC by providing guidance track forecasts seven days into the future.  Additionally, as Erika approached the U.S. mainland, working closely with TPC, HPC provided QPFs for the storm.  Also, on August 15 HPC Director Jim Hoke supported FEMA Headquarters, its field offices, its Hurricane Liaison Team, and the Texas Emergency Management Director by delivering three briefings on the expected precipitation from Erika, including one briefing at midnight just before landfall.


Hurricane Isabel


Hurricane Isabel made landfall along the North Carolina coast around noon on September 18, then headed for the Washington, D.C., area.  For more than a week before that time as the system traveled across the Atlantic, the HPC assisted the TPC by providing guidance track forecasts.  Additionally, as Isabel approached the U.S. mainland, HPC also supported the FEMA Hurricane Liaison Team by delivering twice daily, live video briefings on the expected QPF from Isabel for the three days before and one day after landfall.


The HPC coordinated extensively with NWS field offices, especially on the predicted precipitation amounts.  A number of these activities were accomplished while the federal government in the Washington area was shut down because of the storm.



Media Activities


HPC Was Very Visible in the Media During Several Major Winter Storms


Several winter storms attracted the attention of the national media.  Storms of February 14-18 and February 20-23 resulted in many interviews both from the electronic and print media.  HPC conducted many interviews including with ABC News, CBS Radio, CNN Radio (in English and Spanish), WADO Radio in New York (in Spanish), Bloomberg News, USA Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and National Public Radio.  HPC Director Jim Hoke appeared on camera on the “CBS Evening News with Dan Rather”, “CBS Early Show with Harry Smith” and CNN’s “Lou Dobbs Tonight”.  HPC staff also gave interviews to AP, CNN, Reuters, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Chicago Tribune.


HPC Provides Media Support For Spring Storms


A complex series of spring storms brought a wide range of significant weather conditions to the eastern half of the country during the first week of April.  Tornadoes, hail, heavy rain, freezing rain, sleet, and major snowfall were reported.  On April 7, HPC Director Jim Hoke appeared on the CBS Evening News and the following morning on the CBS Early Show to describe the ongoing event.  Interviews were also provided by HPC staff to ABC News, the Japanese Broadcast Corporation (NHK), the Associated Press, and CNN Radio (Spanish Broadcast).


Hurricane Isabel


HPC provided numerous media interviews as Hurricane Isabel affected the eastern U.S.  HPC hosted Fox Channel 5 (Washington, D.C.) for 3-4 hours the two mornings before landfall by providing live interviews and background shots.  HPC also provided graphics on several occasions for special briefings presented to White House staff and the President. 



HPC Was Active in its Community Outreach Program


HPC meteorologists spoke to a number of groups to encourage weather awareness. For example, an HPC meteorologist participated in the Fauquier County Boy Scouts merit badge day and the annual Fauquier Hospital's Kids Safe 2003 program, as well as visiting local elementary schools.



HPC Sponsors Forecaster Exchange Program


HPC sponsored a forecaster exchange program with the River Forecast Centers to foster communication between HPC and the RFCs as well as allow forecasters to become more familiar with the products and procedures of their counterparts.  Hydrologists from several RFCs visited the HPC for two or three days each and several HPC forecasters visited several RFCs.



Conferences and Seminars


HPC Participated in a Planning Meeting of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO)


Robert Kelly, Chief, HPC Forecast Operations Branch, represented the NWS at the WMO in Geneva, Switzerland, at a meeting held April 1-3.  This was an expert preparatory session for a Flood Forecasting Workshop being planned by the WMO for 2004.  The role of the NWS in this preparatory session was to contribute in planning the agenda, topics, and directions of the proposed conference.


HPC Participated in Great Divide Workshop


Robert Kelly participated in the Great Divide Workshop in Glasgow, MT, during the week of August 25, making a presentation on the HPC and its roles in the NDFD era.  This briefing included the forecast programs of HPC, with special emphasis on the Winter Weather Experiment, QPF, and medium-range forecasting.  The workshop provided a forum to share information and discuss ideas involving new techniques for weather forecasting for the Intermountain West and western High Plains.



International Desks


African Desk Expands to Include Training at the HPC


On September 4, Mr. Charles K. A. Yorke, a forecaster from Ghana, began six weeks of training as the first visiting scientist from Africa at the HPC International Desks.  The training in the HPC provided experience in short-range weather events such as QPF.  While in the HPC, visiting scientists assist in the preparation of daily 3-day forecast charts over Africa and an accompanying text bulletin.  The visiting scientists will also spend six weeks in the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) working with scientists studying climatic issues


HPC Provides Support for Heavy Rain Event in Brasil and Argentina


HPC’s International Desks provided meteorological advice and support to Argentina and Brasil from April 21 through May 1 in advance of and during a heavy rainfall event over southern Brasil and the Mesopotamia Valley in Argentina.  The heavy rainfall began on the April 23, as forecast and continued through May 1.  There were reports of two to four inches per day across the region.  The heavy rainfall formed along a slow moving, nearly stationary front, an unusual event for April.  Over 100,000 persons were displaced by the resulting floods.


HPC Provides Early Alert to Severe Weather Outbreak in Argentina


Starting on Oct 23, the HPC International Desks warned users in Argentina of the potential for severe weather and mesoscale convective system development with a progressive polar front.  This was further highlighted in the bulletins issued on Oct 24 and 25.


On the days of the event (October 26-27) wind reports in excess of 70 mph, rainfall maxima of 3-4 inches, and hail were received.  As a result of the prompt warnings issued by the Argentinian weather service, the public took mitigation actions, reinforcing the roofs and walls of their homes.  This kept damage to a minimum.  The storms continued into Paraguay over the weekend, and the public was equally alerted to the potential for damage.  Severe thunderstorms occurred along with a tornado that caused damage to more than 200 houses.


International Desk Provides Early Alert For Potential Heavy Rains Over Puerto Rico


On November 10, the visiting scientists of the HPC International Desks and Mike Davison, HPC International Desks Coordinator, after completing a comprehensive evaluation of the model guidance, initiated a coordination call with the lead forecaster at the NWS Weather Forecast Office in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to discuss the potential for organized rainfall from the positive interaction between a tropical wave and an upper-level short-wave trough.  The system was to evolve gradually into a tropical disturbance with an organized circulation south of Puerto Rico, placing Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in an area optimum for heavy rainfall.


The HPC International Desks recommended to the WFO the use of the Eta model guidance, as it was doing a better job with the system initialization and providing fine-scale detail necessary for mesoscale forecasting.  They advised the WFO to expect the heaviest rainfall on November 12, with 24 hours rainfall maxima of 4 inches for the U.S. Virgin Islands and 8 inches across the island of Puerto Rico.  This event was also highlighted on the Tropical Desk model discussion/bulletin, warning local interests to expect rainfall maxima to exceed the model guidance.  The forecasted event verified well, with the heavier rainfall amounts recorded November 11-12.



3. Awards


Isaac Cline Award


The recipients at the HPC level and then at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) level for the Isaac Cline Award for Meteorology were HPC’s Winter Weather Team - Peter Manousos, Bruce Sullivan, Chris Hedge, Bob Oravec, and Dan Petersen.


4. HPC Staff


HPC Hosts Summer Students


The HPC hosted several summer interns in 2003:


Christian Douglas, a computer science and mathematics major at Clark Atlanta University, returned to the HPC for a second summer.  She was a participant in the NOAA Center for Atmospheric Sciences (NCAS), a cooperative science center established by NOAA and led by Howard University.


Peter Chery, a computer science major at Bowie State University, had previous NWS experience, having spent summer 2002 at NWS Headquarters designing web pages.  At HPC in 2003 Peter worked on the development of a web-based interface for time and attendance and scheduling.


Wayne MacKenzie had completed his junior year at Millersville University before joining HPC for the summer.  Wayne worked on a project to develop a better understanding of the convective feedback problem with NCEP’s Global Forecast System (GFS).


Andrew Sovonick, student at Sidwell Friends School, worked on a project to improve the technique developed by the Office of Hydrologic Development to convert HPC QPFs to probabilistic QPFs by stratifying past data based on weather regimes.


The listing below reflects the HPC staff assigned as of December 31, 2003.


Front Office

James E. Hoke, Director

Kevin C. McCarthy, Deputy Director

Crystal Rickett, Administrative Officer

Jeanette H. Rolen, Secretary


Development And Training Branch

Edwin J. Danaher, Branch Chief

Michel Davison, International Desks Coordinator

Peter C. Manousos, Science and Operations Officer

Meteorologist Developers:  Chris Bailey, Michael Bodner, Keith F. Brill, Joe W. Carr, Jr., Mark Klein.


Mohan Karyampudi, Contractor for the International Desk

Jung-Sun Im, Contractor for Probabilistic QPF Development


Forecast Operations Branch

Robert Kelly, Branch Chief

Senior Branch Forecasters:  Michael T. Eckert, Norman “Wes” Junker, Brian Korty, Robert J. Oravec, Bruce D. Terry.

Forecasters:  Jessica L. Clark, James A. Cisco, Stephen J. Flood, Christopher M. Hedge, David Kosier, Arthur J. Lindner, Paul Mausser, Mike Musher, Larry Nierenberg, Andrew Orrison, Frank J. Pereira, Dan Petersen, Robert L. Rausch, Alan J. Robson, Franklin A. Rosenstein, David M. Roth, Michael L. Schichtel, Bruce E. Sullivan.

Surface Analysts:  Kathy Bell, Doug Hilderbrand, Pam Szatanek, Paul A. Ziegenfelder.

Meteorological Technicians:  Jacqueline I. Hatchett, Rufus J. Jackson, Jr., William McReynolds, Jr.

Staffing Changes During 2003


Robert J. Oravec was promoted to Senior Branch Forecaster

Andrew Orrison was promoted to GS-13 meteorologist


Several employees left the HPC:

Louis E. Wolf retired

Jim Kells transferred to the Ocean Prediction Center


New HPC employee:

Pam Szatanek - Surface Analyst

New contractor:

Jung-Sun Im - IM Systems Group, Inc.



5. Illustrations and Pictures of HPC Staff and events.