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Saint Louis University: "A COMET research workshop at Saint Louis University"

Final Report


1.1 Introduction: Summary of overall project objectives and a description of project participants.

The goal of this Partner's research effort was to organize and conduct a regional-scale workshop to highlight the results of our COMET cooperative research effort over the last three years. The workshop was scheduled to last two and one-half days in November 1999 and was hosted by Saint Louis University and the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. Those invited included National Weather Service Forecast Offices (NWSFO) in the central region with selected other offices from the southern and eastern regions, students of Saint Louis University, nearby universities, forecasters from the United States Air Force at Scott Air Force Base, and St. Louis TV weather broadcasters (see list of those invited appended to this report.)

The project objective is to familiarize the operational community with our ongoing COMET cooperative research involving quantitative precipitation forecasting (QPF) and the prediction of straight-line winds and tornadoes associated with squall lines. Although most of the presentations were to be conducted by members of the COMET cooperative effort, forecasters and science and operations officers (SOOs) from the invited NWSFOs were asked if they had any relevant material to present. At least one dozen NWS people responded with proposed abstracts to present at the conference.

In addition, Mr. Mike Eckert from the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) and Dr. Mike Biggerstaff from Texas A&M University were invited to present invited talks to the audience. Mr. Eckert was asked to speak about progress in QPF and plans at the HPC, while Dr. Biggerstaff was asked to speak about his latest research in forecasting the severe weather attending bow echoes. Finally, a key component of the proposed workshop was to have two severe mesoscale convective system (MCS) and two QPF workshops using actual case studies from our research. The emphasis was placed on presenting material useful for the operational community.

1.2 Description of research/development activities and accomplishments carried out

During the period leading up to the COMET Regional Workshop, much planning and work was completed during the seven-month period ending mid November 1999. In March, 1999 a team of university and NWS staff members, including: Dr. Jim Moore, Fred Glass, Gary Schmocker and Ron Przybylinski met at the NWS office in St. Louis and started organizing the workshop. Each of the team members was given specific tasks to complete. All of the team members contributed towards the development of the announcement for the workshop. Jim's work focused on preparations at the University, including availability of rooms, catering of food, student personnel needed for registration, and A/V equipment needs for the workshop. Ron focused his time in two areas: 1) working with the Hampton Inn (lodging for attendees) and 2) developing a Website on the WFO St. Louis (LSX) homepage (Science News) including the announcement of the workshop and agenda. Both Fred and Gary spent much of their time reviewing abstracts submitted for the workshop. The team met a second time in early September outlining what progress has been completed for the workshop. The workload increased in September through early November. Much of this work centered upon the development of presentations and copying/organizing the workshop material.

The COMET Research Workshop was held from 16-18 November 1999 in the Argentum Room of the Busch Memorial Center on the campus of Saint Louis University. A copy of the agenda for the workshop is appended to this report. Approximately 75 people attended the workshop. The first day primarily focused on the QPF problem and was lead off by Mike Eckert's invited presentation entitled, "Quantitative Precipitation Forecasting for the Next Decade". This day also highlighted work by Fred Glass, Jim Moore, Rob Cox, Chad Swain, and graduate students Steve Klaus and Scott Watson. A presentation from Greg Gust of the NWSFO at Grand Forks, SD was also included on this day. Jim Moore and Fred Glass conducted simultaneous QPF workshops. Jim's workshop focused on a cold season heavy rain event in Missouri while Fred's workshop focused on a fall convective rain/severe weather event in Kansas and Missouri.

Day two was highlighted by an invited talk by Dr. Mike Biggerstaff entitled, "Automatic Detection and Prediction of Damaging Straight-line Winds in Bow Echoes". Members of the severe MCS team including Gary Schmocker, Ron Przybylinski, Jeff Hovis, Pat Spoden Christopher Jones, James Keysor and Mary Lamm presented talks based upon their WSR-88D research on bow echoes. Invited NWS presentations were also given by Brian Klimowski, Bill Togstad, Jeff Evans (SPC), Gene Brusky, Ray Wolf, Alan Gerard and Karl Jungbluth. It was a full day of MCSs and WSR-88D imagery!

On the last day of the workshop two papers were presented by Jim O'Sullivan and Greg Gust on model forecasts of severe convection. Two simultaneous workshops were presented by Ted Funk and Ron Przybylinski on the operational forecasting of severe weather attending bow echoes. We finally concluded the conference at about 12:30 p.m. on 18 November.

A complete set of notes was given to all participants in a loose-leaf binder. Selected talks were also put on our anonymous ftp site where they could be downloaded by participants to show to their fellow forecasters. In addition, additional "clean" copies of each workshop were made available for participants to use back home at their office. Since many of the attendees were SOOs, having the notes and workshop materials fits in with the "train the trainer" concept developed at COMET.


In essence, the whole workshop was a university-NWS exchange. Presentations were given by graduate students and faculty, as well as NWS forecasters. Many students teamed up with forecasters during the workshops to see how they approached the QPF and severe MCS forecast situations presented. Perhaps just as important was the fact that several SOOs approached the COMET cooperative organizers about how they did their research and how they might do similar QPF and severe weather research at their offices. We have received many compliments about the workshop and feel that our efforts paid off in a cost-effective way.


The agenda for the workshop and a complete set of notes given to each workshop participant is appended to this report. In addition Microsoft "PowerPoint" and Corel "Presentations" talks were made available on the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences' anonymous ftp site:

login: anonymous
password: e-mail address
cd /pub/incoming/comet

Greg Gust's two presentations were made available on the web at and

Bill Togstad's presentation were made available at the following web site:

Ted Funk has made his workshop material available on the web at:

The Louisville QPF team has also posted their results of the Kentucky/southern Indiana snow climatology at the following web address:

The results of our Eta-32 evaluation and heavy rain climatology for Kentucky/southern Indiana have been placed in the aforementioned anonymous ftp site as PowerPoint presentations. They are also available at our web site at the following address:

Gary Schmocker's presentation on MARC will be placed on the WFO St. Louis (LSX) Website shortly. Ron's presentation on the mini-climo of MCS evolution across the Mid-Mississippi Valley will be further enhanced and placed on the LSX in mid winter prior to the upcoming convective season. Plans are being made to place Fred Glass's presentation on the heavy rainfall climo on the LSX Website in the near future. Both the QPF and MCS workshops developed by Fred and Ron will also be placed on the WEB. Information relating to the topics of the MARC signature and MCS / vortex evolution with convective lines across the Mid-Mississippi Valley region can be seen on the following WEB address from WFO St. Louis:


4.1 University's Perspective

The benefits were many, the problems few. We feel that this workshop set the standard for future workshops that we will conduct under our new NOAA CSTAR grant. Researchers, students and NWS forecasters were able to discuss their research in a relaxed atmosphere. In retrospect, it would have been nice to set some time aside for discussion, although much discussion did occur on the "sidelines" during breaks, lunch and dinner. Also, there were some no-shows from the private sector, the Air Force and several NWSFOs. We are hoping to get more people into the tent next time around. However, I believe that we are justified in calling this workshop a success based upon the number of attendees, the quality of the presentations, the exchange of information, and the feedback that we have received from those who took time out of their schedules to attend the workshop.

We are most pleased that we were able to get all those attending a notebook containing most of the papers delivered at the workshop and make available Microsoft PowerPoint or Corel Presentations material from the conference. Also, the power of the web was utilized to make available case study material from the workshop. This is the direction that we will continue to move in our new research.

4.2 NWS Perspective

As noted earlier, there were many benefits to the workshop. One of the high points of the workshop was the degree of high quality information presented by the participants. Dr. Mike Biggerstaff from Texas A&M mentioned to me that he was impressed with the quality of presentations given at the workshop. A lot of work and research was completed by the participants resulting in excellent presentations and good exchange of information. Only a small percentage of the original listing of NWS attendees did not attend. However, we were expecting more attendees from the local private sector, and the Air Force. With the number of presentations, a limited amount of time was given for discussions after each presentation. In future workshops of this type, we might consider expanding this area. However, each participant was given 20 minutes (and sometimes more) to complete their presentation, 5 to 8 minutes longer than a typical AMS or NWA oral presentation. The additional time allowed the speaker to expand upon the case or study. In all, this was a very successful workshop.

Much time and preparation was needed for the MCS presentations and the QPF / MCS damaging winds workshops. Along with assisting Gary Schmocker in his presentation, Ron worked with Jim O'Sullivan on his presentation utilizing the MM5 mesoscale model in a cold-season severe weather event.