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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 meteorology.

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.

Collaboration & research success power point presentation 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.

National Weather Service
Raleigh Forecast Office
1005 Capability Drive, Suite 300
Centennial Campus
Raleigh, North Carolina 27606-5226
(919) 515-8209
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Page Last Modified: 19 September 2009 09:28:21 UTC
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