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NWS Raleigh Science Program
History of NWS Raleigh Science Program and Collaboration
One of the country's strongest collaborative
research relationships between a National Weather Service (NWS)
office and a university started in Raleigh in the late 1970's.
The relationship began when meteorologists from the NWS and NC State
started collaborating on various activities including
internships, seminars, and American Meteorological Society meetings.
In the 1980's, a large project
called GALE (Genesis of Atlantic Lows Experiment), which involved numerous
institutions and government agencies including NC State and NWS Raleigh,
studied various mesoscale processes and their role in cyclogenesis along
the East Coast of the United States. The collaboration expanded during
the 1980's with both partners working together to dispel
insecurities and intimidations that might exist between forecasters and academia.
The collaboration was significantly enhanced in the 1990's when the NWS office
was collocated with the NC State University (NCSU) Department of Marine, Earth,
and Atmospheric Sciences (MEAS). Years of applied research activities conducted
by NWS Raleigh and the NCSU MEAS has led to this successful relationship.
The office has been a major participant in the Cooperative Program for Operational
Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET), a NOAA/NWS supported
University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) program.
In 1991, NWS Raleigh and NCSU undertook one of the very
first COMET cooperative projects ever approved and since then have
completed several COMET sponsored projects.
One of COMET's goals is to improve operational meteorological
procedures through strong interactions between the NWS and
universities with atmospheric science programs.
Some of the NWS Raleigh and NCSU COMET projects examined the
detection of tornadic thunderstorms, the
inland intensification of Tropical Storm Danny,
the nowcasting of convection, the influence of upstream convection on QPF,
inland flooding from tropical cyclones, and other topics.
In addition, the office was the lead NOAA/NWS office participating in the
four-year Southeast Consortium on Severe Thunderstorms and
Tornadoes. The consortium investigated
methods to improve the prediction of tornadoes and severe
thunderstorms in the southeastern part of the country.
The NWS Raleigh and NCSU staffs worked together to host the very first AMS sponsored
regional workshop for operational forecasters in November 1995,
and the 1993 NWA Annual Meeting.
In 1999, the collaboration between NWS Raleigh and NCSU
was taken to a new level with the funding of a NOAA
Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research (CSTAR) project.
The CSTAR program was established to bring the current variety of
NWS-supported collaborative activities with the academic community
into a structured program and to create a cost-effective transition
from basic and applied research to operations and services.
This project involved NCSU and several other NWS offices
including Wilmington, Newport, and Raleigh NC, Wakefield,
Blacksburg, and Sterling VA, and Greer, Columbia, and
Charleston, SC. This project was tasked with improving
topographically-forced weather systems in
the Carolinas and Virginia. The phenomenon of cold-air damming,
and the coastal front, were the focus of this CSTAR project.
The NC State Student Internship Course was launched in 2002
for meteorology majors interested in a career in operational
weather forecasting. Students in the internship participate
in job shadowing, weather analysis, development of area forecast discussions,
weather and storm summaries, seasonal familiarization sessions, site visits, and
participation in routine shift operations at the NWS.
In 2003, a second CSTAR effort, designed to improve cold-season
precipitation forecasts in the southeastern U.S., was initiated.
This project also involved several other adjacent NWS offices.
Case studies, climatological and statistical studies,
and numerical model were used to examine the precipitation distribution
accompanying cold-air damming, coastal fronts, and coastal cyclones.
In addition, the influence of upstream convection on downstream
precipitation forecast was a major focus.
Once again, in 2007, a third CSTAR effort was initiated. This project
focuses on improving the understanding and prediction of warm season
precipitation systems in the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic. Specifically,
the project has the goal of improving understanding and prediction of
a set of high impact meteorological phenomena including land falling tropical
cyclones, convection, and orrographically driven weather systems.
The research reflects a broad consensus developed through discussions involving
10 National Weather Service Forecast Offices (NWSFO) and the Southeastern
River Forecast Center (SERFC).
Another project of note is the success of joint severe weather
operations between the NWS Raleigh and selected NCSU
faculty and graduate students where the faculty and students
actively participate in the NWS severe weather warning
operations. These joint operational experiences have done
much to foster productive relationships between researchers
and operational forecasters, while providing the academic
community with a very valuable operational perspective of
It should be noted
that much of the efforts and energies supporting the science program and collaboration
by the NWS Raleigh staff were in addition to what is normally required of NWS
field personnel with a large percentage of the NWSFO staff actively involved in the collaboration.
The collaborative activities between NWS Raleigh and NCSU have benefited the
citizens of North Carolina by reducing the time needed to
transfer new forecasting techniques developed in the research
arena to the operational desk, resulting in improved warnings and forecasts.
A power point presentation
illustrating the collaboration & research success between the NWS Raleigh and North Carolina State
University is also available.
An article in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society entitled
Assessing the Impact of Collaborative Research Projects on NWS Warning Performance by Jeff
Waldstreicher reports that collaborative research projects between universities and National Weather Service Forecast
Offices in the eastern United States are found to have measurable benefits to tornado,
severe thunderstorm, flash flood, and winter storm warnings.