Friday, February 29, 2008

Winter Weather Research at the National Severe Storms Laboratory

Improving understanding and forecasts of hazardous winter storms

NSSL (NOAA Severe Storm Laboratory) is about more than just tornadoes and thunderstorms--we are also a focal point for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research on hazardous winter weather.

In addition to conducting research on convective storms, NSSL scientists study blizzards, freezing precipitation, and heavy snow. Radar research and development efforts also are being conducted to improve the discrimination of rain from snow, the quantitative measurements of snowfall, and the small-scale structure of winter-weather system

The Intermountain Precipitation Experiment (IPEX)

IPEX is a research program designed to improve the understanding, analysis, and prediction of precipitation and precipitation processes in the mountains of the western United States. Over 30 scientists from NOAA and the Universities of Utah, Oklahoma, and Nevada collected data in February 2000 using research aircraft, mobile radars, and weather balloons. Analysis and interpretation of this data will allow project scientists to examine the factors controlling the distribution and intensity of snow across narrow, steeply sloped mountain ranges like the Wasatch Mountains.

PAYOFF: The knowledge gained through analysis of IPEX datasets conducted by NSSL scientists will lead to better forecasts of deadly winter storms in the western United States


Precipitation Type

Predicting the type of precipitation (rain, snow, freezing rain, or sleet) can be a difficult forecast challenge. A first step in such predictions is understanding the climatological distribution of precipitation type. NSSL scientists are working with collaborators at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Environment Canada, and the University of Oklahoma to compile such information for North America. The next step to improve forecasts is to develop algorithms for the prediction of precipitation type. The goal of the Precipitation-Type Algorithm Experiment (PTAX) is to determine the quality of existing algorithms and investigate ways to display the results using probabilities. Other research at NSSL showed the importance of falling snow melting aloft to changing the precipitation type observed at the surface.

PAYOFF: Better information will help forecasters provide more accurate warnings for freezing rain, sleet, and snow.


Winter Lightning

Lightning is not restricted to summertime thunderstorms--sometimes snowstorms can produce lightning as well. NSSL scientists have produced maps of wintertime thunderstorms across the United States that show these storms occur most frequently in the Great Plains. Another study provides guidance for forecasters in Buffalo and Salt Lake City for determining the occurrence of lightning associated with lake-effect snowstorms in their localities. Finally, during IPEX, NSSL scientists and their collaborators obtained the first measurements of the electric field inside winter storms over the United States.

PAYOFF: This research will improve the fundamental understanding of conditions that cause wintertime lightning.


Banded Precipitation Studies

When precipitation appears as organized bands on radar, accumulation at the surface can be extreme. Researchers are looking at conditional symmetric instability and frontogenesis as predictors of banded precipitation. Other studies have shown that small-scale circulations in winter precipitation can sometimes be similar to supercell thunderstorms.

PAYOFF: Studies of banded precipitation ultimately result in better mesoscale forecasts, traveler's advisories, and other detailed forecast products used by schools, businesses, transportation systems and local governments.


Improving WSR-88D Snowfall Estimates

Data from IPEX and previous winter storm studies in the mountains of northern Utah are being used to calibrate the nearby WSR-88D. A special network of snow gauges provides snow water equivalent measurements that are used to determine correction factors for remote radar precipitation estimates.

PAYOFF: More accurate radar precipitation estimates provide forecasters with better real-time water-equivalent snowfall rates. In addition, hydrologists and water managers (e.g., reservoir operators) have more accurate knowledge of potential snow melt run-off.

Shelf Ice

These pix's were taken at
Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore Park. Shelf Ice is a beautiful thing but extremely dangerous because of its stability or lack thereof. How a look of beauty can be so very deceiving.

March 1st is here!
The Chase begins!

FEMA specialists offer help to rebuild more safely after tornadoes

FEMA hazard mitigation specialists will be at local building supply stores today through Saturday with information to help residents rebuild more safely and stronger following the severe weather of Feb. 5. (Story)

Survey Teams Confirm 3 Tornadoes in Tuesday Storms

Survey crews confirmed three tornadoes touched down early Tuesday. All were classified as E-F-One.

Tornadoes and straight line winds were blamed for causing thousands of dollars in damages in Leeds, the Pell City/Cropwell areas, Highland Lakes in northern Shelby County, northeast Talladega County and southern Calhoun County.

In Leeds, an elderly woman was killed when a tree fell on a mobile home.

Meteorologists said aerial and ground surveys determined that dozens of homes and businesses in the affected counties suffered minor to major damage.

An E-F-One tornado can generate wind speeds of between 86 to 110 miles per hour.

Forecasters say no severe weather is expected for the remainder of the week.

Houston EMA Chief Questions Siren Use

By: Lorra Lynch

Perry's fire chief turned on the tornado sirens during Tuesday's threat of severe thunderstorms. The sirens caused many people to believe there was a tornado warning.

Houston County EMA Director Jimmy Williams says he's concerned about the decision to activate sirens in Perry during Tuesday's severe weather.

Williams says Chief Joel Gray's decision to turn on the sirens to alert people about the threat of severe thunderstorms instead of tornados caused a flood of calls to the E-911 center. He called the volume of calls "very disruptive."

Chief Gray said he activates the sirens during any severe weather or homeland security threat. He said he's going by FEMA guidelines, and plans to stick with the policy until he's told to do otherwise by city management.

Williams met with Houston County Commission Chair Ned Sanders about the issue Wednesday morning. He says they plan to schedule meetings on the use of the sirens as soon as possible.

The City of Perry and Robins Air Force Base are the only areas in Houston County with access to tornado sirens.


UK. RNLI heroes & Coast Guard heroes honoured for MV Ice Prince rescue, read the dramatic story

The Coxswain of the Torbay RNLI lifeboat, Mark Criddle, is to be honoured by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution as the charity awards him the Silver Medal for Gallantry, recognising him for his leadership and outstanding seamanship during the rescue of eight seamen from the stricken merchant vessel Ice Prince on the night of 13 January 2008.

Coxswain Criddle’s volunteer crew on that night – Deputy Second Coxswain Roger Good, Deputy Second Coxswain John Ashford, Mechanic Mathew Tyler, Second Mechanic Nigel Coulton and Crew Members Darryll Farley and Alex Rowe – have also be recognised for their bravery and will each receive the Thanks of the Institution inscribed on Vellum.
Ice Prince with 20 crew on board was on passage 34 miles south east of Berry Head, Devon when severe gale force 9 winds and rough seas shifted its cargo of timber causing the vessel to list 25 degrees to port. (Story)

Riverdance ferry "can be righted"

Lisa Ettridger

BAD weather is continuing to takes its toll on the stricken ferry Riverdance – but rumours that the ship will have to be broken up and removed have been dismissed.

Officials from the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) say a 40ft diameter box which provided accommodation for drivers will be dug up from the sands at Cleveleys after falling into the sea in bad weather earlier this week.

"It's part of the accommodation, where the lorry drivers would sit to have a cup of tea," said Richard Skeats of the MCA.

Nautical Anchor

Messing About In Ships Podcast #12 - Special Interview of US Coast Guard Rescue of Sailors Aboard the Yacht Sean Seymour II

February 25, 2008, 4:33 am
Filed under: podcast, shownotes

Speaking of "winter weather"... Have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

High Tech Cowboys of the Deep Seas: The Race to Save the Cougar Ace

I post this article because it presents a interesting backgrounder on people in the marine salvage community.

A industry that many have either never heard of or do not understanding what marine salvage companies actually do or go through to get the job done.

They are truly first responders and sometimes the only responders.

High Tech Cowboys of the Deep Seas: The Race to Save the Cougar Ace

Latitude 48° 14 North. Longitude 174° 26 West.

Almost midnight on the North Pacific, about 230 miles south of Alaska's Aleutian Islands. A heavy fog blankets the sea. There's nothing but the wind spinning eddies through the mist.

( Pix: The Cougar Ace lists at a precarious angle in Wide Bay, Alaska. Photo: Courtesy of US Coast Guard )

Out of the darkness, a rumble grows. The water begins to vibrate. Suddenly, the prow of a massive ship splits the fog. Its steel hull rises seven stories above the water and stretches two football fields back into the night. A 15,683-horsepower engine roars through the holds, pushing 55,328 tons of steel. Crisp white capital letters — COUGAR ACE — spell the ship's name above the ocean froth. A deep-sea car transport, its 14 decks are packed with 4,703 new Mazdas bound for North America. Estimated cargo value: $103 million.

Joshua Davis narrates this collection of photos and Coast Guard video taken during Titan Salvage's attempt to save the Cougar Ace.

(Video produced and edited by Wired's Annaliza Savage and Michael Lennon. Clips and photos courtesy of US Coast Guard and Titan Salvage.)

On the bridge and belowdecks, the captain and crew begin the intricate process of releasing water from the ship's ballast tanks in preparation for entry into US territorial waters. They took on the water in Japan to keep the ship steady, but US rules require that it be dumped here to prevent contaminating American marine environments. It's a tricky procedure. To maintain stability and equilibrium, the ballast tanks need to be drained of foreign water and simultaneously refilled with local water. The bridge gives the go-ahead to commence the operation, and a ship engineer uses a hydraulic-powered system to open the starboard tank valves. Water gushes out one side of the ship and pours into the ocean. It's July 23, 2006.

In the crew's quarters below the bridge, Saw "Lucky" Kyin, the ship's 41-year-old Burmese steward, rinses off in the common shower. The ship rolls underneath his feet. He's been at sea for long stretches of the past six years. In his experience, when a ship rolls to one side, it generally rolls right back the other way.

This time it doesn't. Instead, the tilt increases. For some reason, the starboard ballast tanks have failed to refill properly, and the ship has abruptly lost its balance. At the worst possible moment, a large swell hits the Cougar Ace and rolls the ship even farther to port. Objects begin to slide across the deck. They pick up momentum and crash against the port-side walls as the ship dips farther. Wedged naked in the shower stall, Kyin is confronted by an undeniable fact: The Cougar Ace is capsizing.

He lunges for a towel and staggers into the hallway as the ship's windmill-sized propeller spins out of the water. Throughout the ship, the other 22 crew members begin to lose their footing as the decks rear up. There are shouts and screams. Kyin escapes through a door into the damp night air. He's barefoot and dripping wet, and the deck is now a slick metal ramp. In an instant, he's skidding down the slope toward the Pacific. He slams into the railings and his left leg snaps, bone puncturing skin. He's now draped naked and bleeding on the railing, which has dipped to within feet of the frigid ocean. The deck towers 105 feet above him like a giant wave about to break. Kyin starts to pray.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming, 4 am.
A phone rings. Rich Habib opens his eyes and blinks in the darkness. He reaches for the phone, disturbing a pair of dogs cuddled around him. He was going to take them to the river for a swim today. Now the sound of his phone means that somewhere, somehow, a ship is going down, and he's going to have to get out of bed and go save it.

It always starts like this. Last Christmas Day, an 835-foot container vessel ran aground in Ensenada, Mexico. The phone rang, he hopped on a plane, and was soon on a Jet Ski pounding his way through the Baja surf. The ship had run aground on a beach while loaded with approximately 1,800 containers. He had to rustle up a Sikorsky Skycrane — one of the world's most powerful helicopters — to offload the cargo.

Rich Habib, Senior Salvage Master
Photo: Andrew Hetherington

Ship captains spend their careers trying to avoid a collision or grounding like this. But for Habib, nearly every month brings a welcome disaster. While people are shouting "Abandon ship!" Habib is scrambling aboard.

He's been at sea since he was 18, and now, at 51, his tanned face, square jaw, and don't even try bullshitting me stare convey a world-weary air of command. He holds an unlimited master's license, which means he's one of the select few who are qualified to pilot ships of any size, anywhere in the world. He spent his early years captaining hulking vessels that lifted other ships on board and hauled them across oceans. He helped the Navy transport a nuclear refueling facility from California to Hawaii. Now he's the senior salvage master — the guy who runs the show at sea — for Titan Salvage, a highly specialized outfit of men who race around the world saving ships.

(Full Story Wired Magazine)


Messing About In Ships Podcast

Messing About In Ships Podcast #12 - Special Interview of US Coast Guard Rescue of Sailors Aboard the Yacht Sean Seymour II

February 25, 2008, 4:33 am
Filed under: podcast, shownotes

Here is the inspiring interview with the US Coast Guard helicopter rescue crew that saved the lives of three sailors aboard the yacht Sean Seymour II.

File Download:Messing About In Ships 12 - Special Interview


  • Aviation Survival Technician Second Class Drew D. Dazzo, H-60 Rescue Swimmer
  • Lieutenant Commander Nevada A. Smith, H-60 Aircraft Commander
  • Lieutenant Junior Grade Aaron G. Nelson, H-60 Copilot
  • Aviation Maintenance Technician Second Class Scott D. Higgins, H-60 Flight Mechanic

Final log entry by Jean Pierre de Lutz, owner of Sean Seymour II

Robin Storm blog: Saved from the Angry Atlantic

Watch for future episodes with interviews with the C130 flight crew and the Sean Seymour II captain/owner.


Wednesday, February 27, 2008

First Spring Flood Outlook Released

First Spring Flood Outlook Released

The first 2008 Spring Flood Outlook was released February 22, 2008 and indicates the potential for minor to moderate flooding on streams within northern Illinois and northwest Indiana. The complete report can be viewed here.

We also urge those with river interests to view our Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) web pages, for probabilistic flood outlook information through the spring, or anytime heavy rain occurs or flooding is possible.

The amount or severity of spring flooding depends on the following factors:

  • Current snow depth
  • Liquid equivalent of the snow
  • Current river levels and streamflow
  • Melting rate (how fast the snow melts)
  • Future precipitation
  • Soil moisture and frost depth
  • Ice jams (can lead to flash flooding)

Additional Spring Flood Outlook information is available from the North Central River Forecast Center.

The next scheduled spring flood outlook with be issued on Friday, March 7th.

Fermilab Severe Storm Seminar Info - A Sure Sign of Spring!

The annual Fermilab Tornado and Severe Storm Seminar will be Saturday April 5 at 1200 Noon and again at 600 PM. The program will be held at the Ramsey Auditorium at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois. The program lasts about 4 hours, its free and open to anyone. Seating is first come, first served. The program is hosted by WGN TV’s Chief Meteorologist, Tom Skilling and is put on by the Fermilab Visual Media Services Department.

This year’s speakers include;

Tom Skilling - Chief Meteorologist WGN TV

Dr. Joseph Schaefer - Director of the NWS Storm Prediction Center

Dr. Mary Ann Cooper - University of Illinois, Chicago

Brian Smith - Warning Coordination Meteorologist, Omaha, NE

Ed Fenelon - Meteorologist in Charge, NWS Chicago

Gino Izzi - Lead Forecaster, NWS Chicago

Jim Allsopp - Warning Coordination Meteorologist, NWS Chicago

More information to come!


NWS Chicago (KLOT) Severe Weather Spotter Talk Schedule

NSSL PODCASTS - Flash Floods

Estimating Precipitation and Improving Flash Flood Forecasting with Radar Kevin Kelleher, Deputy Director of the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory and Dr. Suzanne Van Cooten, NSSL Research Hydrometeorologist, discuss using radar to estimate precipitation and improve flash flood forecasting. Recorded 8 November 2007

  • Section 1 - Research in using radar to estimate precipitaton (2:44)
  • Section 2 - Research on flash flood forecasting and a demonstration project in the southeast United States (6:14)
  • Section 3 - Research on debris flow and mudslides (1:51)
  • Section 4 - How NSSL’s research benefits forecasters (2:08)
  • Section 5 - Kevin discusses his career path (4:08)
  • Section 6 - Suzanne discusses her career path (5:32)




Dar’s Maritime Institute to offer new courses for seamen

Special Correspondent

The Dar es Salaam Maritime Training Institute has introduced new training programmes to allow workers to keep abreast with international trends.

Two new courses were launched ordinary seafarers, officers at ports and onboard ships, cargo clearing and forwarding agents and ship fleet-freight operators.

Until recently, workers at sea and lake transport regimes in the country were employed without necessarily having qualifications.

But the country’s increased trade with advanced shipping nations like China, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the United States has put it under pressure to adopt international acceptable employment guidelines or risk its seamen and port being blacklisted.

According to Dar es Salaam Maritime Institute principal Thomas Mayagilo, the two new courses will add life to the industry.

The logistics and transport international diploma will provide a seamless transport convenience whose holder will professionally be able to arrange for a cargo from a port of loading abroad destined to inland Tanzania,” he said.

He added that the system would help the delivery of cargo without delay and the importer will not be obliged to travel all the way to Dar es Salaam to chase his merchandise.

Seafarers will train on fire fighting techniques, response during life-threatening instances at sea or inland waters, safe cargo deployment on decks or hatches among other skill-instigated job requirements.

Many seafarers get injured or are the cause of fatal ship accidents due to lack of proper training before they are signed in to man the vessels.

Tanzania liberalised the water transport sub sector in 1990s. The country has in its jurisdiction an 800-km shore strip facing the Indian Ocean and several inland water bodies.

The institute is among a few such institutes in sub-Saharan Africa mandated by the International Maritime Organisation to offer marine engineering courses and certificates of competency.

Tanzania had until recently 320 marine engineers, most of them graduates of the institute. About 62 per cent of them work aboard locally registered ships; seven per cent on shore while four per cent on board foreign ships.

Tanzanians risked a forfeiture of 420 international jobs after those who worked with international shipping lines were found to have not undergone courses that conform to the standards of training, certification and watch keeping (STCW).

Tanzania later adopted the STCW signed the International Ship and Port Security (ISPS) Code.

Established in 1991, DMI took over the responsibility of designing the STCW and ISPC oriented training programmes. It trains company security officers, ship security officers and port security officers as a result.

Besides offering advanced diploma courses in marine transportation and engineering, the institute trains deck officers and marine engineers at the operational level and other shipboard personnel at the supporting level.

The basic operational objectives of DMI being however to train seafarers to the requirements of the 1978 international convention on “Standards of Training Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers as amended in 1995, it trains students up to level of class 3 Certificate of Competency for both engineers and deck officers.

In 1996, the now East African Community designated the Dar es Salaam Maritime Institute as the regional maritime training centre.

The institute, funded by the Tanzanian government, and the Norwegian International Development Agency, admits students from all over including Uganda, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and Namibia among others.


Jeanne Walls, 22 Feb. 2008

The annual National Maritime Festival will be held this year at the Newcastle foreshore on SUNDAY 12 OCTOBER 2008. Erica Townsend has been appointed as the new Event Manager. Erica has commenced planning for the Festival and the Grand opening of the Maritime Centre.

The National Maritime Festival celebrates Newcastle’s rich maritime history and is not only the longest running event but one of Australia’s largest maritime festivals.

This year promises to be the best Maritime Festival “Spectacular” to date and will herald The Grand Opening Exhibition of The Maritime Museum at Lee Wharf, Honeysuckle - this $800,000 exhibition is currently in progress with Convergence Design Consultants/Melbourne .

Newly appointed Event Manager for 2008 is Erica Townsend who coincidentally is the daughter of the late Captain Kenneth Hopper OAM. Captain Hopper was Newcastle Harbour Master from 1966 till retirement in 1980. In 1973 Captain Hopper was the founder and first President the Regional Maritime Museum and was responsible for resurrecting The Newcastle Harbour Regatta (now Festival). The ‘Regatta’ was first held in 1984 and was disbanded during World War II.

Erica comes with a heartfelt passion for the Maritime Festival as well as 25 years in Hospitality, Event Management and Tourism. Erica returned to the Hunter in 2000 to open and manage Len Evan’s iconic hotel in the vineyards, The Tower Lodge.

Erica says “this years Festival will be especially significant with the Grand Opening of the Maritime Museum Exhibition which will proclaim the opening of the National Maritime Festival weekend . The fun-for-all harbour celebration will include many of the favorite on-shore and on-water events and activities of past years as well as a few ‘spectacular’ surprises.”

A FREE shuttle service will be running on the day to transfer visitors and spectators from Various points along the foreshore in a continuous loop from 10am till 5pm.

It is expected that this unique and growing event will attract visitors from around the State including the Upper and Lower Hunter, Central Coast, Mid North Coast and Sydney Regions.

For more information and PHOTO opportunities please contact: Event Manager ERICA TOWNSEND 0411 461 075 Event Director JEANNE WALLS 0412275 707

Life and Death on the Bering Sea Deadliest Catch Alaskan Storm for Xbox 360 and PC

SEATTLE (February 26, 2008) - Battle 40-foot waves, storms, ice and a nearly 100-percent crewmember injury rate in the dangerous hunt for undersea riches on the Bering Sea with the new video game Deadliest Catch Alaskan Storm, to be launched on the Xbox 360®video game and entertainment system from Microsoft and PC in April 2008.

The game was inspired by Sig, Edgar and Norman Hansen - three brothers who have made their living crab fishing on the Bering Sea aboard their family's fishing vessel, the Northwestern. The Hansen brothers started game development with Liquid Dragon Studios in October 2005.

Shipping firms neglecting safety as top priority: NMSA


SHIPPING companies have in the past, had a tendency of turning a blind eye to the safety of their vessels, putting the lives of the travelling public at risk.

The laxity of PNG’s shipping laws and of enforcing agencies in policing these laws, had allowed companies to operate unseaworthy vessels as well as bringing in very old ships and “treating us as a dumping ground for old vessels” National Maritime Safety Authority general manager Chris Rupen, said yesterday.

According to Mr Rupen, because monitoring agencies were ill-equipped to effectively carry out regular safety inspections, these companies got away with using vessels that were not seaworthy, often putting the lives of the travelling public and of thousands of kina worth of cargo at risk.

While it was not the intention of NMSA to delay the shipping operations of companies, it was important that regular safety checks were done so that the safety of the travelling public was not compromised, Mr Rupen said.

He said his office had the responsibility of policing shipping rules and regulations and that was what they have been doing over the three years since their establishment in 2006.

“Our officers carry out routine checks on all shipping vessels. Sometimes the deficiencies are minor and take a few minutes to rectify. At other times, they take a few hours and we tell the master to rectify the situation. If the deficiency is major, we ground the vessel,” he said.

“We work with these companies and not against them. We do what we do to make them more responsible and often, they are happy with what our officers do and comply.”

He said it was their duty to make sure shipping companies took responsibility of the safety of their ships; that they did not let defects go by.

“We do random inspections on all shipping vessels, foreign and local. On foreign vessels, we carry out port state control inspections while on domestic vessels, our officers’ carry out flag state control inspections. These checks are done to make shipping companies responsible,” he said


Tuesday, February 26, 2008

New Radar Technology Can Increase Tornado Warning Lead Times

Navy's phased array radar being adapted for weather use

A National Weather Radar Testbed has been established at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Severe Storms Laboratory to provide the meteorological research community with the first surveillance phased array radar facility available on a full-time basis.

Norman is already known as a national center for weather radar research and development. NSSL's research in Doppler radar led to one of the most successful and significant technology advancements since the launching of the first weather satellite.

Nearly 30 years ago, NSSL was a major participant in the development of Doppler technology that became the heart of the WSR-88D radar, or NEXRAD.

The deployment of a system of 120 NEXRAD radars across the United States was the cornerstone of the modernization of the National Weather Service.

Installation of the SPY-1A antenna and radome on the NWRT

Navy supply ship showing SPY-1 radar that is currently used to support tactical operations.

Phased array radar is currently used on Navy ships to support tactical operations.

Phased array radar technology may help forecasters of the future provide earlier warnings for tornadoes and other types of severe and hazardous weather. Researchers are adapting the SPY-1 radar technology, developed by Lockheed Martin to support tactical operations aboard Navy ships, to weather detection. The phased array radar project has begun a new stage in NSSL's leadership in the research and development of future generations of weather radar.

Research Partnerships

A unique federal, private, state and academic partnership is developing the phased array radar technology. Participants include NOAA's National Severe Storms Laboratory and National Weather Service Radar Operations Center, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Navy, University of Oklahoma's School of Meteorology and School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Basic Commerce and Industries. The project - from research and development to technology transfer and deployment throughout the U.S. - is expected to take 10 to 15 years at an initial cost of approximately $25 million for the facility in Norman.

Promising New Radar Technology

Early tests of the phased array radar system show that the technology has the potential to vastly improve upon the capabilities of the national NEXRAD radar network for all weather radar applications. Using multiple beams and frequencies, phased array radar reduces the scan time of weather from five or six minutes for NEXRAD radar to less than one minute, producing fast updates of weather data.

The National Weather Radar Testbed allows NSSL and other meteorologists to determine if phased array radar will become the next significant technology advancement to improve our nation's weather services.

Schematic shows how the radar might scan storms as well as clear air, and also track aircraft and uncooperating targets.

The rapid scanning ability of phased array radar gives it the potential to be a multi-use, adaptively scanning radar.

Improved Warning Lead Time

In addition to faster updates, the new system can scan the atmosphere with more detail at lower elevations than current radar allows. It can also re-scan areas of severe weather very quickly, potentially increasing forecasters' warning lead times as storms rapidly transition to severe modes.

PAYOFF: This technology has the potential to increase the average lead time for tornado warnings well beyond the current average of 11 minutes. Other technology being developed at NSSL will extend lead times even farther.

Improved Understanding and Forecasts

The new technology will gather storm information not currently available, such as rapid changes in wind fields, to provide more thorough understanding of storm evolution. Researchers and forecasters can then improve conceptual storm models and use that knowledge to evaluate and improve stormscale computer models. The data will also be used to initialize computer models and improve forecasts.

PAYOFF: Phased array technology will increase fundamental understanding of storm evolution, in turn leading to improved computer models, more accurate forecasts and earlier warnings.

Reflectivity display from first tornado captured by the NWRTVelocity display from the first tornadic storm captured by the NWRT
Reflectivity and velocity displays of the first tornadic storm captured with the NWRT


WSR-88D Improvements
  • Implementing range and velocity ambiguity mitigation techniques in the WSR-88D radar network will result in an improved ability for the WSR-88D to detect severe weather, flash floods, winter storms, and provide aviation forecasts.
  • An increased ability to identify aviation weather hazards and to track, classify and identify aircraft will improve airline safety and help fill gaps in homeland security.
Phased Array Radar
  • Phased array technology could significantly extend warning lead times, increase accuracy, and reduce the uncertainty of predicting severe weather events.
  • Adapting phased array technology to both weather observation and aircraft surveillance will provide significant cost benefits and a higher level of security to the nation
Real-time Applications
  • Researching and prototyping new severe weather warning applications using WDSS-II multi-sensor technology will help fast-track improvements into operations and provide a robust decision support system for forecasters.
  • The National Weather Radar Testbed at NSSL will shorten the cycle time from weather radar research to National Weather Service operations, leading to increased accuracy and lead-times, and reducing the uncertainty of predicting severe weather events.
  • A cost-effective network of many small radars that can scan lower regions of the atmosphere will provide better weather coverage in high population or weather-sensitive areas.
Mobile Doppler Radars NSSL PODCAST - Radar Research

National Severe Storms Laboratory Chief of Radar Research and Development Doug Forsyth discusses aspects of radar research and what’s in store for the next generation of weather radar. Recorded 8 November 2007

  • Section 1 - Types of radar research done at NSSL (5:43)
  • Section 2 - Transition of research to operations for new radar applications (3:11)
  • Section 3 - Doppler radar and new radar technologies being researched and how they compare (8:39)
  • Section 4 - Advantages of collaborative radar research (3:24)
  • Section 5 - Doug discusses his career and his advice for people considering a career in the atmospheric sciences (6:09)



Tennessee Severe Weather Awareness Week: Feb. 24-29

The National Weather Service, the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency and other supporting organizations are working together to help in providing the public with information about severe weather safety. Advance planning and increased awareness will help Tennesseans survive these deadly storms. Governor Phil Bredesen has proclaimed February 24-29, 2008, as "Severe Weather Awareness Week" in Tennessee.As we move into our Spring, now is the time to prepare ourselves for the hazards and dangers associated with severe weather. Severe weather can and does occur any time of the day and anytime during the year. Are you prepared?

Click on the link to download the booklet. Severe Weather Awareness Week Booklet 2008

MS Severe Weather Awareness Week
Sunday, Feb 24, 2008 - 10:30 PM
By AnneMarie Crumby
Governor Haley Barbour declares this week Severe Weather Awareness Week in Mississippi. The National Weather Service will issue a statewide test tornado warning on NOAA Weather Radios Wednesday morning.Schools, government agencies and businesses throughout the state are encouraged to participate in a tornado drill. Everyone is asked to buy a NOAA Weather Radio. It sounds an alarm when local severe weather watches and warnings are issued. These radios range in price from $30 to $70.

Emergency Management Looking for Severe Weather Spotters

Towson, Md. (February 7, 2008) – Local weather buffs have an opportunity to put their interest in meteorology to valuable practical use.

The Baltimore County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is recruiting volunteers to help spot severe weather. The volunteers would be part of SKYWARN, a national network of amateur severe weather spotters, trained by the National Weather Service to spot severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, hail and flooding, snowfall and ice accumulation.

Along with the National Weather Service, the Office of Emergency Management will sponsor a SKYWARN and Spotter Class on Tuesday, March 11, 2008, 7 to 10 p.m., at the Baltimore County Public Safety Building, 700 E. Joppa Rd., Towson. The class will be held in the 6th floor conference room.

The class is free of charge

To register, email, or call the Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management at 410-887-5996.

By Arthur Rabjohn CEM

ENGLAND: Council flood funding payments exceed £15million Floods Recovery Minister John Healey today announced over £2.5million funding for six authorities across the country, to help them get back on their feet following last summer's floods. This means that over £15million has now been paid out under the Bellwin scheme, which covers costs incurred by local authorities during immediate action to safeguard residents and property or prevent suffering as a result of a disaster or emergency. This money is on top of up to £63million of other Government support made available to help flood-hit communities. FULL ITEM AT:

USA: Night of Texas Wild Fires followed by fog chaos. Closure of Houston Hobby Airport led to major disruption as a result of dense fog. Planes were diverted to other airports, mainly DFW, and passengers sat on the tarmac for over two hours in some cases. Following a night of wildfires was there a connection?

NAMIBIA: Emergency Management Gets Blasting Omusati Governor Sackey Kayone has criticised the Regional Emergency Management Unit (REMU) for lack of means to respond to emergency situations. In a speech delivered on his behalf by Outapi Councillor Simon Shileka, he expressed reservations with the way finance is centralized at the expense of regional emergency units. MORE AT:

INDONESIA: A powerful earthquake hit off the coast of Indonesia's Sumatra island. The quake was centered about 160km south-southwest of Padang and had a magnitude of 7.3, and occurred at about 10km beneath the seabed. There are no reports of casualties or damage. A local tsunami watch has been issued and lifted after.

CHINA: China has forecast heavy snow and blizzards across its industrial and agricultural heartland over the next three days. At least 129 people have died. Transport is in chaos and cut off power and water appeared. Severe weather damaged millions of hectares of crops and killed more than 70 million animals. Snow and sleet would hit six provinces spanning China's central, eastern and northern regions. Blizzards were also expected in the northwestern part of central Hubei province, already plagued by winter storms earlier this month.

MADAGASCAR: Nearly 145,000 people have been left homeless by a cyclone that tore through Madagascar, killing 44 people. Cyclone Ivan struck the island's east coast last Sunday, and was followed by torrential rains which caused flooding. Winds gusting at more than 230km/h caused widespread damage. Infectious diseases such as diarrhoea are reported to be on the rise. The cyclone season is not expected to end until April, so the government has warned that further storms could follow.

ECUADOR: Persistent rains and floods have left Ecuador in a state of disaster as concern aver food shortages grows. Rains and swollen rivers have caused flooding in 13 of the country's 24 provinces, destroying homes, crops and infrastructure. At least 300,000 people have been affected, including 20,000 evacuated. 110,000 hectares of crops, including rice, coffee, corn, banana, cacao and sugar cane have been destroyed. A national emergency has been declared. EU MIC is monitoring the situation.


Lack of talent blamed for shipping accidents
By Nadim Kawach on Sunday, February 24 , 2008

Shipping accidents have increased sharply worldwide over the past few years because of the introduction of complex systems and a lack of experienced crew abroad vessels, according to a specialised organisation.

The surge in accidents has boosted business at shipping yards and consequently pushed up the cost of vessel repair and maintenance, the Singapore-based DNV company said in a report sent to Emirates Business.

“Updated figures for 2007 show that the losses from navigational accidents within the shipping industry are continuing to increase. This trend was also confirmed by the insurance industry. Premiums may increase by as much as 30 per cent in 2008,” DNV said in the report, presented at a shipping conference yesterday.

“DNV monitors the frequency of serious accidents. Over the past five years, there has been an increasing incidence of serious navigational accidents in several shipping segments. This increase is confirmed by many insurance companies such as Skuld, Norwegian Hull Club and The Swedish Club,” said DNV, which covers a wide range of services including classification, certification, consulting, training, asset operations, verification, laboratory testing and technology qualification.

In addition to the increasing frequency of navigational accidents, the cost of each repair caused is rising.

The yards are overbooked, making it hard to find a repair slot, resulting in increased prices for firms. Collisions, groundings and contacts now account for 60 per cent of the most expensive accidents.

The report quoted Torkel Soma, principal safety consultant at DNV Maritime, as saying: “DNV’s statistics show a ship is twice as likely to be involved in a serious grounding, collision or contact accident today compared to only five years ago. In addition, estimates show the cost of these accidents has doubled. Since this is the general trend for the international commercial fleet, the maritime industry needs to act on this immediately.”

According to the report, the boom in the shipping market and increased deliveries of new ships have resulted in pressure on crews.

It says the shortage of officers has resulted in lower retention and faster promotion, adding that as a result, the general level of experience is decreasing on board. At the same time new technical solutions have also been introduced, which might have increased the complexity of operations.

“Reliable technology and complying manuals are no assurance against making errors. Collisions, groundings and contact accidents do almost always involve human acts,” Soma says.

Helge Kjeøy, regional manager DNV Maritime South East Asia, said: “The main factor explaining the negative developments over the past few years is the undersupply of crew worldwide. This results in reduced experience and the high commercial pressure results in high workload. Adding new and more complex equipment does not only help the situation. Avoiding accidents under such situations requires a good safety culture, something which the maritime industry evidently needs to focus more on.”

The experience of leading shipping companies shows the focus has to be turned more in the direction of human elements and organisational factors, including all those involved – from the directors of the company to the officers on the bridge.

Soma adds: “Safety improvements with reduced accident frequency have been achieved through a structured approach addressing behaviour and culture. For the industry to maintain its traditionally good track record, the resilience of operations has to be addressed on a larger scale.”


Singapore: Updated figures for 2007 show that the losses from navigational accident within the shipping industry are continuing to increase.


Monday, February 25, 2008

UK RNLI: 7834 People Rescued, but 'too many MOB's

7834 People Rescued, but 'too many MOB's

In 2007, 'one of the busiest years on record', a whopping 7,834 people were rescued by the UK's Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) lifeboats and over half of lifeboat launches were to leisure craft However, the most worrying news was the increase in Man Overboard rescues

The final RNLI rescue figures for 2007 also show an increase in the number of man overboard incidents for leisure craft – rising from 161 (2006) to 201 (2007), up 25% from 2006. Commenting on the rise in RNLI rescues to man overboard incidents, RNLI Sea Safety Manager, Peter Chennell says: Although only a relatively small percentage of the total reasons for lifeboat call-outs to leisure boaters, it’s worrying to see such a large increase in man overboard incidents.

It is hoped the boating public have started to take on board the RNLI’s lifejacket awareness campaign message, useless unless worn. We’re aiming to encourage more of the boating community to automatically put their lifejackets on when they go to sea and decide when to take them off, because experience tells us that in an emergency there is not always time to make sure your lifejacket is securely and correctly fitted. Wearing a lifejacket is one of the RNLI’s five sea safety tips along with: checking your engine and fuel; telling others where you’re going; carrying some means of calling for help; and keeping an eye on weather and tides.’ Final figures show that the RNLI’s lifeboats were launched 8,141 times during 2007, rescuing 7,834 people. More than half of the 8,141 RNLI lifeboat launches – 4,287 – were to recreational sea users in leisure craft. This figure is down slightly on 2006 rescues (4,361), perhaps due to the unseasonable weather in the early summer months. Of the 4,287 RNLI lifeboat launches to leisure craft in 2007 almost half (43%) were to powered craft2, well over a third (40%) of lifeboat launches were to the aid of sailing craft3 and 17% were to manual leisure craft4.

The major cause for RNLI lifeboat launches to (manual, power and sailing) leisure craft, as in previous years, was overwhelmingly machinery failure (29% of incidents), this is followed by craft being stranded or grounded (13%) and vessels meeting adverse weather conditions (9%) as the three main causes for lifeboat launches to leisure craft in 2007.

The top three reasons for lifeboat launches to each specific type of leisure craft in 2007 were machinery or engine failure for both power and sailing leisure craft, while the impact of adverse weather conditions was the main reason for lifeboat launches to manual leisure craft। Despite fewer visitors to the coast during the early summer months5 due to the unseasonable weather, RNLI lifeboats and lifeguards continued to respond to a high number of calls for help, as more and more people are using the water and beaches for leisure pursuits. RNLI lifeguards, who were operational on 71 beaches in the south west of England and East Anglia, rescued 1,350 people, came to the aid of a further 9,883 people and responded to 8,201 incidents. The wet summer weather also meant that the RNLI’s Flood Rescue Team and volunteer lifeboat crews were particularly active inland, rescuing another 200 people in flood hit areas across the UK during the summer months.

Lunar Eclipse - Gallery Images

Brian A. Morganti posted a couple of gallery images from the total lunar eclipse he observed in southeastern PA this past Wednesday evening, February 20th.


EMA wants churches to be safe in severe weather

So much severe weather awareness information is geared toward the home. Experts urge families to put together safety plans and stock up on supplies in case the unexpected happens.

But what if you are not in your home when severe weather strikes? What if, like many church congregations in Chilton County this past Sunday, you find yourself in your place of worship?

Chilton County Emergency Management/Homeland Security Director Bill Collum says churches need to make sure they have a way of being alerted when severe weather warnings are given.

"We have a basement in our church," said Collum, who attends Heritage Church of the Nazarene in Clanton. "Our plan is when the warning siren goes off, everyone goes to the basement."

But what if no one hears the outdoor warning system go off? The sirens are intended only to warn those who happen to be outdoors at the time of warning.

Tragically, that was the case on March 24, 1994 when a tornado outbreak resulted in several fatalities at Goshen United Methodist Church in Piedmont.

Collum doesn't want history to repeat itself here in Chilton County. He has already worked with several local churches to develop safety plans including Liberty Hill, Mars Hill and Verbena Baptist Church.

Church safety plans require key people to be trained in helping direct the congregation to safety. This includes assisting the elderly, manning a flashlight and monitoring a weather radio.

A NOAA weather radio would be a wise investment for any church, Collum noted.

"It's the same stuff you would do with a home plan, except you're in a church," he said.

Because many churches already keep a steady supply of food and water on hand, being prepared wouldn't require too many purchases, he added.

Any church is encouraged to contact the Chilton County EMA if they are interested in developing a safety plan for their congregation. The EMA office may be reached at 755-0900.

"We would love to get it in every church," Collum said. "We want to make all churches aware of the need to be prepared."

March 2-8 is severe weather week in Indiana

From Gov. Mitch Daniels’ office:

To focus Hoosiers’ attention on the threats posed by tornadoes and thunderstorms, Governor Mitch Daniels has proclaimed March 2-8, 2008, as Severe Weather Preparedness Week. The National Weather Service will conduct a statewide test of communication systems on Wednesday, March 5 between 1030 AM and 1100 AM EST and between 700 PM and 730 PM EST. Friday March 7 is the make-up drill day if weather postpones Wednesday’s drill.

These tests should be used as times to practice your plan.

The goal of Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to better educate people about the hazards of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, and to help everyone be prepared should severe weather occur.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS) is offering these tips during times of severe weather.

Tornado Safety Tips

*Basements, inner rooms of a house, and storm cellars provide the best protection.

*Stay away from exterior walls, windows, and doors. Stay in the center of the room.

*If you are in your car do NOT try and outrun the tornado because it can switch direction and can cover lots of ground quickly.

*Get out of vehicle and go into a strong building if possible. If not, lie flat in a ditch or low area and cover your head.

*Do NOT go under overpasses, wind speeds actually increase under them and can suck you out!

*If you live in a mobile home, get out IMMEDIATELY. Take shelter in a building with a strong foundation.

*Listen to radio or watch TV so you can be alerted about your current situation.

Thunderstorm Safety Tips

*If a thunderstorm is coming postpone or cancel outdoor activity.

*Do NOT go near tall trees or any other tall objects.

*Seek shelter inside a building or in a hardtop vehicle, but don’t touch any of the metal inside.

*Do NOT use the telephone. Stay away from other electronic devices, bare metal, and water.

*Do NOT go near downed power lines.

*Keep your eye on the sky as well listen to weather reports on the radio or TV.

*If caught out in the middle of a large body of water, return to shore as soon as possible. Get off the water immediately.

*If caught out in middle of an open field: If walking with others stay a minimum of 10 feet apart; Also, keep low and move quickly to seek shelter. If there is no shelter lay in a ditch or get to the lowest place around.

For more information about preparedness for severe weather and other emergencies, go to Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS).


Severe weather watchers training Tuesday

Thomas Marcetti, Staff Writer

The National Weather Service is offering its SkyWarn training in Hillsdale Tuesday evening.

Doug Sanford, Hillsdale County Emergency Management director, said the training is normally done every year, but they missed last year because of adverse weather.

“The training is for public safety and amateur radio operators, but is open to the public,” he said. “These are the people who are going to give us advance warnings about serve weather.”

Severe weather spotter training offered in Fishers, Indiana

The National Weather Service will conduct severe weather spotter training from 7 to 9 p.m. March 6 at the Fishers Town Hall auditorium.

The training session, hosted by the Fishers Fire Department, is free and is open to the general public.

A representative from the National Weather Service will describe cloud and wind patterns associated with severe weather, how to interpret weather radar data, and how to remain safe during severe weather.

“This is a great opportunity for anyone with an interest in weather, or who is expected to be able to identify and report severe weather at an official level,” said Ron Lipps, public information officer for the Fishers Fire Department.

Additional information about this and other National Weather Service presentations can be found at

Alabama Severe Weather Awareness Week is Next Week

There's kind of a sad irony here, but next week is Severe Weather Awareness Week in the State of Alabama. The week for Tennessee occurs the following week (February 24-29).

The sad irony comes, of course, because of the extraordinary circumstances of the now-infamous "Super Tuesday" tornado outbreak last week. For many of us, the EF-4 tornadoes that devastated parts of Lawrence and Jackson counties served as a terrible wake-up call that such tornadoes can indeed happen here (though we had dodged bullets for so long). Even worse, they occurred in the middle of the night, outside of the traditional spring severe weather "season".

Each day next week will be devoted to a different severe weather topic, whether it's hazards like severe thunderstorms or lightning, or awareness tools such as NOAA All-Hazards Weather Radio. If you don't have one already, this is a good time of year to buy a weather radio in preparation for the spring season--or to check the batteries in your radio in case of a power outage. If you have a new weather radio, be sure to check the NWS Huntsville weather radio page--it has recently been double-checked and expanded with more information, including a helpful programming guide for some common radios.


Opening Ceremony of "K" Line Maritime Academy - Philippines

Tokyo, Japan, Feb 22, 2008 - (JCN Newswire) - In May 2006, Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Ltd. ("K" Line) introduced "K" Line Maritime Academy (KLMA) for securing and fostering "K" Line Seafarers as the principle and one of the various initiatives in the establishment of a ship management structure geared to sustain safety and quality and to promote the planned expansion of business operations advocated in the company's revised interim management plan "K" LINE Vision 2008+.

"K" Line established "K" Line Maritime Academy (Philippines) as a main focus of this concept at Pasay City in The Philippines, and "Opening Ceremony" was held on 22nd February 2008 at the Academy with Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and many delegations from The Philippine Government, Seafarers Educational Institution and other related interests in attendance.

The Academy is the key facility of KLMA and each training course will be carried out in accordance "K" Line's fundamental philosophy that fosters the development of "K" Line Seafarers regardless of nationality by using KLMA Basic Training Matrix and Syllabus.

As for navigation officers, the Academy will conduct training for prevention of ship collision and grounding in congested waters and narrow straits, using the new ship handling simulator, and will ensure that trainees thoroughly understand the "do's and don'ts" concerning safety and quality. With an LNG training course in accordance with SIGTTO Standard and using cargo handling simulator of LNG carrier, the Academy will conduct training in order to secure thoroughly safe and efficient cargo works.

As for engineers, the Academy will conduct training for maintenance of piston, cylinder and so on using the actual main engine with two cylinders. By using a learning system incorporating full-mission engine room simulator, the Academy will conduct training in order to acquire basic knowledge of Engine Room Systems and Machineries as well as exercise on trouble shooting of various systems. In addition, the Academy will conduct training using actual vessel equipment and also stress management training, team work training and so on.

In addition to providing the above latest simulator at KLMA (Philippines), we have installed accommodations and dining room for 110 people, and will be able to accept a total of 10,000 trainees per year regardless of nationality.

Furthermore, a clinic furnished with modern equipment has been set up and will manage the health of all seafarers who go onboard "K" Line group vessels.

To supply highly-skilled seafarers, various "K" Line groups are at work and are the main force behind the training center project, aiming to assure maintenance and further improvement of the "K" Line brand of Security, Safety and Trust.

"What if...The Cosco Busan Happened in New York Harbor??"

NEW YORK, February 7, 2008: On February 27th, the North American Maritime Ministry Association (NAMEPA), in conjunction with New York Maritime Inc. (NYMAR), will be presenting a Response Simulation "What if…the Cosco Busan happened in New York Harbor. Will we be prepared??" Developed by the USCG Sector New York, the Simulation will replicate the events of the Cosco Busan incident which occurred last year in San Francisco - but in New York. The various stakeholders including owners, responders, cargo interests, and government agencies will be participating at the event which will be held in midtown at 4:00PM. (Continued)

By Kristi Bitgood Kelty