GSD hosts forecasters to evaluate new Hazard Services features

October 24, 2019

Image of group participating in 2019 Hazard Services week

Hazard Services Week -- October 2019

Left to right: Jim Ramer, Mike Rega, Mike Dangelo, Chris Jacobson, Dave Tomalak, Evan Bookbinder, Scott Durgan, Darren Wright, Shannon White, Rob Weingruber, Stephen Hrebenach, Andrew Loconto, Nicole McGavock, Jason Jordan, Greg Schoor, Tom LeFebvre, Mike Magsig, Suneng Zhuo, Becca Mazur, Darrel Kingfield, Tracy Hansen, Vada Dreisbach, Aaron Jacobs, Daniel Nietfeld.
Image of a group testing the improved Hazard Services tool

NWS Forecasters evaluate improved Hazard Services tool

From left: Becca Mazur (Alaska Regional HQ), Shannon White (NWS Training Office), Chris Jacobson (WFO Key West), and (top) Evan Bookbinder (ITO WFO Pittsburgh).

GSD researchers hosted more than a dozen participants for two types of tests of the Hazard Services system next week (Oct 22-24) in the GSD Forecast Center. Hazard Services will modernize how National Weather Service (NWS) and National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) create forecasts, watches, and warnings. The system provides a pathway to operations for promising science and technology to be more rapidly incorporated into the warning decision-making process. It is also the vehicle for bringing clear, direct language improvements into the watch/warning/advisory process to ensure effective information is disseminated to the public.

The first test, known as a “Functional Forecaster Assessment Test” (FFAT), exposed forecasters to a new hazard workflow in an isolated system so they could focus on evaluating how Hazard Services creates watches/warnings/advisories and how the public would see these hazardous weather products. The FFAT evaluated the creation of tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings, two critical NWS products issued during high-impact hazardous weather events.

The second test, a “System Functional Assessment Test” (SFAT) brought the Hazard Services workflow into a live system with real data to evaluate its performance in an operational-like environment. Researchers and developers wanted to know: Does the workflow interface well with the other software components? Are the hazardous weather products transmitted and stored successfully? The hazards that were evaluated in the FFAT in July was one focus of the SFAT this fall. These included long-duration marine hazards (such as gale, hurricane-force winds, dense fog, and smoke, freezing spray, and more) that mariners rely on when navigating open water. Forecasters also evaluated non-precipitation hazards (such as extreme cold, excessive heat, dense fog and smoke, high winds, and volcanic ash) which can last for hours or even days and can affect vulnerable populations that do not have access to a safe, sturdy, and climate-controlled shelter.

Two other workflows that were part of the SFAT in July were examined again at the October SFAT. The first evaluation involved Phase 1 of the hydro hazard simplification deliverables which consolidated the number of flooding products issued by the NWS. Participants also examined how the next generation of winter weather watches, warnings, and advisories (including winter storm, blizzard, ice storm, freezing rain, and more) are created and issued in Hazard Services. Improving these workflows aligns with GSD’s mission to make forecasts better, particularly for high-impact events like winter storms that can cause billions of dollars in damage in only a few days.

GSD hosted 16 participants from outside of Boulder, CO: 9 were from National Weather Service Forecast Offices, 2 from training division, 5 from national or regional centers. GSD researchers also participated in these tests.

Participants could also view and test software components being delivered in version 1 of Hazard Services nationwide this fall and winter.

For more information contact: Susan Cobb 303-497-5093