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Florida State University: "Joint research between Florida State University and NWS-Tallahassee"

Final Report


The Cooperative Project consisted of several individual components. Each component is described separately below. Each component utilized personnel from both Florida State University (FSU) and National Weather Service—Tallahassee (NWS-TLH). The principal researcher for each task is indicated below by double asterisks.

1.1 Improved Fog Prediction

FSU graduate student Mark Jarvis devised a procedure to better forecast fog in the Tallahassee area. He first prepared a Tallahassee area fog climatology that included fog frequency as a function of season, hour of the day, duration, and time of first occurrence. He then related fog formation to various surface meteorological parameters (e.g., temperature, dew point, winds, etc.) and to various radiosonde-derived parameters. He also ran the FSU planetary boundary layer (PBL) model on a subset of fog and non-fog days, using input radiosonde data at 0000 UTC on the evening of the impending event. The goal was to determine whether the PBL model exhibited forecast skill. Results showed that the model did exhibit skill.

Mark summarized his findings into a series of decision trees that assist TLH forecasters in preparing their dense fog forecasts. A decision tree was prepared for each of the four seasons. And, each tree has separate branches that allow a forecaster to select between 1) advection or cloudy cases, when the PBL model is not appropriate, 2) cases when the forecaster wishes to base his forecast solely on the PBL output, and 3) cases when the forecaster wishes to use only surface and radiosonde data as guidance. Various types of skill scores are presented for each branch of the tree.

The fog forecasting algorithms devised by Mr. Jarvis currently are being utilized by NWS-TLH. In addition, Mark was contacted by COMET personnel who were preparing a learning module on fog. We provided them with copies of Mark’s materials and anticipate that some of his research findings will be incorporated into the COMET module. Finally, we also presented a paper on this work at the 18th AMS Weather Analysis Conference.

1.2 Improved Forecasting of Tornadoes Associated with Tropical Cyclones and Bow Echoes

This research constitutes the M.S. thesis research for Mr. Thomas (T.J.) Turnage, a lead forecaster at NWS-TLH. Mr. Turnage had just transferred to Tallahassee when the COMET project began. Thus, he spent most of the project period taking required courses for the M.S. degree. He also did an extensive literature review on the subject to better define the tasks to be completed. His final research proposal contains the following items:

The issuance of timely and accurate tornado warnings is a major objective of each NWS Office. And, improved forecasts of severe convection are a priority of the National Weather Service. The WSR-88D radar is the primary tool for determining which cells are becoming tornadic. This proposed research will utilize the most recent findings about tornadogenesis to test existing radar-derived parameters for detecting tornadic storms and to formulate new parameters for that purpose.

Several recent studies indicate that a large proportion of radar-observed tornadic circulations originate in the lowest levels of thunderstorms. These circulations then rapidly strengthen and stretch upward with the onset of the tornado. This is very different from the classical tornadogenesis paradigm, in which the strongest circulations originate in the middle levels of the storm and then descend to the surface.

The former non-descending mode of tornadogenesis is particularly common within quasi-linear convective systems (QLCSs), and has been observed even in strongly forced events. Due to the low-level origin and rapid onset of these circulations, it is difficult to issue timely warnings for these tornado events.

Tropical Cyclone Induced Tornadoes (TCITs) present similar warning challenges due to the small nature of their circulations. TCITs often appear to have a non-descending mode of formation when viewed from the WSR-88D Doppler radar, but this is quite likely due to limitations in radar sampling resulting from the small size of the parent supercells.

This research will compile several QLCS tornado and TCIT events from the southeastern United States. Many events already have been documented and reconciled with STORM DATA reports, and are now part of a National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) database. These events will be analyzed to determine the proportion of non-descending tornado modes that occur. Then, WSR-88D Archive II data will be analyzed manually using WATADS to test the following:

1. Are manually derived values of parameters such as Rotational Velocity (RV), Gate-to-Gate delta V (GTGV), and shear comparable to the values derived by the Tornado Detection Algorithm?
2. Are qualitative warning techniques for these types of events useful?
3. Could other WSR-88D products such as Spectrum Width and Combined Shear provide useful information, given the smaller nature of the tornadic circulations?
4. Would normalizing the time rate of change of certain parameters add useful information, or would radar sampling errors dominate these measurements? For example, does:

[GTGV (t + deltat) – GTGV (t)] / GTGV (t)

offer useful information, or is it too dependent on sampling limitations?

The study is designed to be rather qualitative, in the hope of avoiding the use of absolute, and often misleading, thresholds and guidelines. It is hoped that the results of this research could be immediately applied to operational detection of tornadoes, and reconciled with the latest tornadogenesis theories. The application of this research will extend far beyond the Tallahassee area.

We anticipate that the research defined above under COMET sponsorship will be conducted through some other funding mechanism.

1.3 Updating the Tallahassee CWA Severe Weather Climatology

A climatology of severe weather, and an analysis of reporting tendencies, are the first steps toward a better understanding of the severe weather threat in an area. Eric Lenning, an FSU graduate student, conducted such a climatology for the TLH CWA shortly after it was expanded from 15 to 47 counties during 1995. The research was sponsored by a previous COMET Cooperative Project. This climatology needed to be updated with the most recent seven years of data—a period when the NWS placed increased emphasis on warning verification.

Using severe thunderstorm and tornado events archived by the Storm Prediction Center and National Climatic Data Center, NWS forecaster Mike Jamski compiled all known severe weather events recorded in the Tallahassee County Warning Area (CWA) since the 1950s. Mike placed the information into spreadsheet form. In the future these data will be graphed based on criteria such as month, season, time of day, and location in CWA and publish the information as a Southern Region Technical Memorandum.

1.4 Improved Fire Weather Forecasts Through PBL Modeling

Conditions within the planetary boundary layer (PBL) greatly influence fire initiation and its subsequent spread. A new version of the FSU PBL model underwent development for use in this endeavor. A four-soil layer model was tested in conjunction with NOAA NCEP and AFWA, based on version 2.1 of soil hydrology and atmospheric physics schemes. Prior work (funded under COMET) already established the need for localized roughness length and sounding initialization to provide accurate short term forecasts. The array of parameters to be provided to the field was established. A visit to NWS HGX in November 2000 also established the needs of a station (WFO) which is not collocated with a rawinsonding system. Thus, the model must be initialized from either actual or Eta-model soundings (the highest resolutions generally available to FSU).

1.5 Sea Breeze Forecasting Project

The Sea Breeze Forecasting Project at NWS-TLH has been ongoing since the early 1990s, beginning with work by graduate students Ken Gould and Chris Herbster, under Professor Ruscher. The TASBEX and JASBEX field programs were inspired by this work, and operational spinoffs began when Ken Gould became an intern and then a forecaster at NWS-TLH. NWS-TLH has collected, analyzed, and composited a large array of data (stratified by synoptic flow) to provide operational forecasters with the necessary background and tools to aid in forecasting the development, evolution, convective initiation, and inland penetration of the sea breeze in the Florida Big Bend and Panhandle. These climatologies are designed to aid in preparing zone, marine, fire weather, and short-term forecasts.

1.5.1 Satellite Cloud Climatology

NWS Forecaster Kenneth Gould has prepared a climatology of sea breeze-related convection using 1 km visible imagery from GOES. These images are received and processed using RAMSDIS and/or AWIPS. Gould's procedure is patterned after that of Gibson and Vonder Haar (1990) who prepared composite visible images for different hours of the day and for different large scale flow regimes, e.g., onshore, offshore, parallel flow. He has averaged 5 years of 1.1-km visible imagery at hourly intervals for each wind regime. Ken and Bernadette Connell (CIRA, CSU) recently published a paper on this subject in Weather and Forecasting.

1.5.2 Incorporate Mesoscale Climatologies into IFPS/GFE

The close association of NWS-TLH with the Meteorology Department of Florida State University has made it possible to develop special climatologies that can be easily incorporated into the GFE system. FSU has prepared lightning climatologies for most of Florida under COMET sponsorship.

Much of the summertime precipitation in Florida is attributed to sea breeze induced convection. The inland penetration of the Florida sea breeze, its strength, and associated convection are controlled largely by the low-level, large-scale flow. We have incorporated the summertime lightning distributions, for various low-level flow regimes, into IFPS/GFE at both Tampa and Tallahassee as a first guess for daily thunderstorm patterns. A presentation on this subject was made at the 19th Conference on IIPS at the 83rd AMS Annual Meeting in Long Beach, CA in early 2003.

1.6 Improve Minimum Temperature Forecasts in the Tallahassee Area

Minimum temperatures in the Tallahassee area vary widely during the cold season. And, values at the NWS official observing site (the airport) are perceived by the public to be the coldest in the area. The goal of this task has been to document temperature variability over the Tallahassee area so that the NWS can prepare more site specific minimum temperature forecasts. Results will be used within the Interactive Forecast Preparation System (IFPS) to prepare high resolution forecast grids.

A network of 22 volunteer observing sites was established in the Tallahassee area. Data were collected during the winter seasons of 2001/2002 and 2002/2003. The student helper prepared monthly summaries of minimum temperature conditions in the study area. These summaries compared the temperatures among the various sites and gave tentative explanations for the variations. The reports were sent to each project participant—either by internet or regular mail.

The results have been quite surprising. Specifically, the TLH airport site generally is not the coldest site in our county—there are a number of even colder sites, some located farther south of the airport. Furthermore, Tallahassee appears to have a pronounced urban heat island—an unexpected finding due to our relatively small population. The causes for the unexpected temperature distributions appear to be related to soil type, ground cover (trees, etc.), and wind direction. There also is a strong relation between the temperature distribution and the number of days since the last cold frontal passage.

1.7 Improved Forecasting of Rip Currents along the Florida Gulf Coast

NWS forecaster Greg Mollere focused on factors related to the formation of rip currents in the Gulf of Mexico, in particular along the eastern Florida panhandle coast, incorporating parameters known to enhance rip current potential. He developed a daily rip current threat assessment checklist that includes a surface wind direction and speed factor, a tide factor, and a swell factor. A risk factor between 0 and 8 is determined with values between 6 and 8 being high risk for rip currents. As with any empirical study, ongoing research should be conducted to better understand the factors involved in generating rip currents. WFO Tallahassee plans to maintain a channel of communication with the Panama City Beach Patrol and the St. George Island State Park Rangers, in order to refine and improve the thresholds in the rip current forecasting checklist. This will hopefully allow the WFO Tallahassee staff to help save lives through a better understanding of rip currents, a more effective assessment of the potential for rip current development, and a procedure for alerting the appropriate agencies of an enhanced potential for rip currents.

Prof. Ruscher submitted a proposal to the Major Research Initiative of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to instrument six navigation and communication towers operated by the U. S. Air Force. These towers are located 20, 40, or 60 miles offshore in the marine forecast area covered by NWS TLH, and proposed instrumentation would help meteorological and physical oceanographic analysis in the marine area of responsibility. The NSF proposal was not funded; however, we are seeking other funding partners. One of the towers, however, will be used for the relocation of the CMAN station CSBF1 (Cape San Blas).

1.8 Improved Marine Forecasts in the Tallahassee Coastal Waters

Additional funding was sought from other sources for this task. As noted above, a proposal was submitted to the National Science Foundation to instrument six offshore towers in the northeast Gulf of Mexico (operated by the US Air Force/Tyndall AFB). In addition, four new coastal weather stations and two boundary layer profilers are being proposed for the project, which would establish a collaborative interagency marine and coastal boundary layer laboratory that should help to document the conditions offshore (in the long term). The NSF proposal was not funded, but additional funding sources still are being explored. Three new students analyzed the climatology of the buoy data from NDBC records. We obtained historical data for all buoys in the northeastern Gulf of Mexico, as well as C-MAN stations, and the students processed the data.

The results strongly validate inferences made by NWS-TLH staff of a noticeable diurnal tendency in the offshore buoy data just outside TLH’s area of responsibility. For each of the two buoys, a climatological study of the entire history of the observations has revealed an amplitude variation of 1 m s-1 during the day, with the maximum near 0600 UTC.

1.9 Apparent Squall Line Demise Near Tallahassee

Squall lines approaching the Tallahassee area often appear to dissipate as they advance eastward. This research task documented that phenomenon and performed mesoscale modeling to determine causes for its occurrence. We hypothesized that interactions between the squall lines and land/sea breeze circulations are the cause for squall line weakening. Graduate student Todd Lericos headed this effort as part of his M.S. thesis research. We used the ARPS model for the research and collaborated with Dr. Morris Weisman, a noted storm modeler from NCAR, who served on Todd’s M.S. committee.

A series of simulations using a wide range of shear profiles was run using the ARPS model. Three sets of simulations were performed. Each tested eight wind shear profiles. The first set of simulations did not include a surface or radiation physics and provided a control for later simulations. The remaining two simulation sets included surface and radiation physics. Both contained a land surface on the rightmost one-third of the domain and a water surface on the leftmost two-thirds of the domain. One set examined a land surface that was cooler than the SST, and the second set examined a land surface that was warmer than the SST.

Detailed analyses of simulations revealed much about the thermodynamic and shear characteristics of squall lines as they interact with the coastline. Unstable air continues to be available to the squall line when a cold or warm land surface is included in the simulations. Therefore, in a two-dimensional framework the inclusion of a land surface did not sufficiently affect the thermodynamic properties ahead of squall line enough to change the overall structure. An investigation of ambient shear ahead of a squall line revealed more interesting processes that affect its structure and strength. Specifically, the addition of a warm and cold land surface reduced the original shear in layer along the and near the land surface. The remaining original ambient shear then is confined to a layer above the surface producing an elevated shear environment. The amount of reduction in shear has been shown to be directly proportional to the depth and strength of the original shear layer. For stronger and deeper shears, the reduction in shear is significant enough that buoyancy gradient at the leading edge of the cold pool are no longer in balance with vorticity associated with the shear. The squall line updraft orientation then progresses from upright/downshear to upshear as a result.

Previous studies have indicated that the elevation of the shear layer produces gradual weakening of the cold pool. The current study showed the same characteristics in cold pool strength after the squall lines pass the coastline. Furthermore, it was shown that the process whereby elevated shear layers weaken cold pools also is a function of strength and depth of the original shear layer. This cold pool weakening acts to mitigate the imbalance between the buoyancy gradient and vorticity associated with the shear. It likely is this cold pool weakening that prevents the reduction in shear from causing the complete demise of the squall line.

While none of the simulations examined here indicated the complete demise of the squall line with the inclusion of land surface, it cannot be concluded that land/sea interfaces do not cause squall line demise. Two-dimensional modeling cannot account for the three-dimensional circulations that may or may not play a factor in the strength and longevity of squall lines as they come ashore. Additional studies using three-dimensional domains with contrasting land surfaces may reveal other processes that work against squall lines.

1.10 Severe Weather and Coastal Cyclogenesis

The 24-25 January 2000 case of east coast cyclogenesis and several cases of landfalling tropical cyclones formed the basis of this research. This type of opportunistic research grew from our mutual interests in cyclogenesis and the expectation that winter cyclogenesis will continue to produce forecast and analysis challenges for TLH forecasters. The work by Correia and Ruscher led to three papers (one submitted to Meteorology and Atmospheric Physics, two near completion for Monthly Weather Review), as well as Correia’s M. S. thesis. The work by Maxham will conclude this semester with his M. S. thesis on turbulence characteristics of landfalling tropical cyclones, principally as elucidated from 1 minute and 5 second data from ASOS and CMAN stations, respectively.

Jamski et al. (2000) focused on the ageostrophic wind components of the direct and indirect circulations of coupled jet streaks and their resulting contributions to vertical motions and surface cyclogenesis as the storm system moved through the WFO Tallahassee warning area on 24 January 2000.


1. Prof. Fuelberg and students worked closely with Joel Lanier (NWS-TLH), Judi Bradberry (SERFC), and D. J. Seo (NWS Hydrology Laboratory) to produce a high resolution precipitation data base for Florida using a combination of radar and gage data. This project is sponsored by the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection (FDEP). As a result of the FSU-FDEP team’s experience with the Multi-Sensor Precipitation Estimator software, they assisted the NWS with their installation of that software within AWIPS. The FSU team also attended teletraining workshops on the software sponsored by the NWS Southern Region. Finally, the resulting rainfall data were stratified according to the prevailing large-scale flow. It is clear that locations of warm season rainfall and rainfall amounts depend greatly on the large-scale flow and its interaction with the sea breeze and even smaller scale circulations. These data are being provided to the NWS for use as a first guess for the IFPS scheme.

2. Prof. Fuelberg and students collaborated with Irv Watson (NWS-TLH) to derive 3 hour frequencies of precipitation for stations in the NWS Southern Region. This is a COMET Partners’ Project.

3. Prof. Fuelberg collaborated with Pat Welsh (NWS-JAX), Irv Watson (NWS-TLH), the University of North Florida, and others to install meteorological sensors along Florida’s interstate highways. This has involved a number of team meetings over the years, as well as site surveys of the instrument sites. These data will be provided to the public via the web, “intelligent signage”, and kiosks at rest stops. The data also will be used by the NWS in their local mesoscale models. The project is sponsored by the Florida Dept. of Transportation.

4. Prof. Fuelberg gave a seminar on lightning to the FSU/FAMU Dept. of Electrical Engineering during October 2001.

5. FSU graduate meteorology majors Todd Lericos, Jessica Stroupe, and Phil Shafer participated in the NWS SCEP program. FSU undergraduates Kelly Godsey, Angel Montanez, Matt Sitkowski, and Ashlee Hicks also participated in SCEP. Finally, NWS-TLH sponsors several student volunteers each semester.

6. Construction of the new addition to the Love Building on the campus of Florida State University was completed on 25 February 2002. This addition co-locates NWS Tallahassee with the FSU Meteorology Department. The building was dedicated on April 19, 2002. This co-location permits easy exchanges with the NWS and FSU projects participants—we simply walk up or down a flight of stairs. This ease of communication will facilitate many future collaborations.

7. NWS employee T. J. Turnage continues to work on his Masters Degree in meteorology at the Florida State University. Prof. Fuelberg serves as his major professor.

8. Prof. Fuelberg received a contract from Florida Power & Light Corp. to perform detailed studies of lightning distributions and timing over the Miami-Dade and Broward Counties of their service area. The goal is to develop statistical forecasting tools that will assist FP&L in determining staffing needs after normal working hours. The results of these studies also will assist NWS forecasters in Miami. We have collaborated closely with Rusty Pfost (MIC-MIA) and Pablo Santos (SOO-MIA) on the project through various meetings over the past two years.

9. The FSU Meteorology Department continued to offer a 3-hr semester course to students interested in a career with the NWS. The class includes working a one 6-hr shift per week alongside the NWS/TLH forecasters, becoming acquainted with the duties, routine, and the tools available to a NWS forecaster.

10. SOO Irv Watson, MIC Paul Duval, WSFO Tallahassee staff, and invited experts continued to offer an 2-hr semester course on the National Weather Service each Spring semester to interested juniors and seniors majoring in Meteorology.

11. The NWS TLH office staff collaborated with Prof. Ruscher on the proposal to NSF to instrument offshore Gulf of Mexico towers.

12. Educational outreach programs remained a major focus of work at FSU Meteorology under the direction of Prof. Ruscher. NWS Tallahassee continued to support our efforts through the provision of materials to teachers for our teacher workshops (most recently summer 2001). The offices in Miami and Melbourne have helped on numerous occasions, as well.

13. An additional component of the Florida Mesonet was built through a project directed by Prof. Ruscher (REALM, This project includes one automated wireless weather station that has been located on the new tower of the Love Building, installed by NWS TLH. We are working closely with NWS MIA on this project.

14. Local modeling efforts in Florida accelerated on several fronts, and in addition to NWS TLH, Prof. Ruscher worked with the SOOs at MIA, MLB, and JAX on separate initiatives. Work began fresh in February 2003 thanks to a meeting organized at NWS JAX by Bernard Meisner, with NWS MLB. At MIA, 5 minute data from all Miami-Dade weather stations installed and maintained by Prof. Ruscher’s REALM project are already being ingested into the local analysis program there, and are being used in their own mesoscale model runs. At MLB, these data are already part of the local minute data assimilation system run every 15 min. At JAX, we are working collaboratively with the Coastal Storms Initiative there, with a new UCAR fellowship recipient, graduate student Peter Bogenschutz. At TLH, graduate student Todd Lericos installed the Workstation Eta in 2001. Workstation Eta continues to serve NWS TLH on a daily basis.

15. A former COMET student of Professor Ruscher, Matthew Green, replaced Andrew Devanas as State Meteorologist at the Emergency Operations Center. We anticipate improved interactions with the state Division of Emergency Management; the REALM project already had received a small grant to incorporate mitigation of disaster materials in our educational outreach project.


Correia, James Jr., 2001: Multiscale analysis of the surprise east coast snowstorm of 24-25 January 2000. M. S. Thesis, Florida State University, Tallahassee, 305 pp.

Correia, J. and P. Ruscher, 2002: Forecasting the 25 January 2000 "surprise" east coast snowstorm: observational data issues. Submitted, Meteor. Atmos. Phys.

Connell, B.H., K.J. Gould, and J. Purdom, 2002: High resolution GOES-8 visible and infrared cloud frequency composites over northern Florida during the summers, 1996-1999. Wea. and Forecasting, 16, 713-724.

Fuelberg, H.E., G.S. Quina, B.A. Mroczka, R.J. Lanier, J. Bradberry, and J.P.
Breidenbach, 2001: High resolution precipitation climatologies from radar data. Preprints, Eighteenth Conf. Wea. Analysis and Forecasting, Amer. Meteor. Soc, Ft. Lauderdale, 394-398.

Fuelberg, H.E., G.S. Quina, B.A. Mroczka, R.J. Lanier, J.S. Bradberry, and J.P. Breidenbach, 2002: A high resolution precipitation data base for Florida. Preprints, Second Federal Interagency Hydrologic Modeling Conference, Las Vegas, papers available on CD.

Jamski, M.S., M.A. Wool, and A.I. Watson, 2000: The role of jet couplet dynamics in the life cycle of a short-duration, severe mid-latitude squall line within an elevated, marginally unstable environment. Preprints, Twentieth Conf. Severe Local Storms, Amer. Meteor. Soc., Orlando, 386-393.

Jarvis, M.R., 2001: An investigation of forecasting dense fog in the Tallahassee area. M.S. thesis, Florida State University, Tallahassee, 70 pp.

Jarvis, M.R., H.E. Fuelberg, P.H. Ruscher, and A.I. Watson, 2001, Improving forecasts of dense fog over north Florida. Preprints, Eighteenth Conf. Weather Analysis and Forecasting, Amer. Meteor. Soc., Ft. Lauderdale, 218-222.

Lericos, T.P., 2003: The effects of coastlines on the evolution of strong, long lived squall lines. M.S. thesis, Florida State University.

Lericos, T.P, H.E. Fuelberg, A.I. Watson, and R.L. Holle, 2002: Warm season lightning distributions over the Florida peninsula as related to synoptic patterns. Wea. and Forecasting, 17, 83-98.

Lericos, T.P., T.J. Turnage, H.E. Fuelberg, and A.I. Watson, 2001: Evaluation of the MM5 and Workstation ETA models near Tallahassee, Florida. Preprints, Ninth Conf. on Mesoscale Processes, Amer. Meteor. Soc., Ft. Lauderdale, 547-551

Lericos, T.P., H.E. Fuelberg, and A.I. Watson, 2000: Lightning distributions over the Florida peninsula. Preprints, Twentieth Conf. Severe Local Storms, Orlando, Amer. Meteor. Soc. 154-157.

Lericos, T.P., H.E. Fuelberg, A.I. Watson, and M.L. Weisman, 2002: The effects of coastlines on the evolution of strong, long lived squall lines. Preprints, Twenty-first Conf. Severe Local Storms, Amer. Meteor. Soc., San Antonio, 21- 24.

Mollere, G.J., A.I. Watson, and R.C. Goree, 2001: A rip current assessment of the Florida Panhandle coastal waters. NWS SR Tech Memo SR-210, 20 pp.

Mollere, G.J., A.I. Watson, and R.C. Goree, 2001: A rip current assessment of the Florida Panhandle coastal waters. Preprints, Fourth Conf. Coastal Atmospheric and Oceanic Prediction and Processes, 6-9 November, St. Petersburg, FL, Amer. Meteor. Soc. 87-93.

Mroczka, B.A., 2003: The influence of the synoptic flow on warm season rainfall
patterns over the Florida peninsula. M.S. thesis, Florida State University, 76 pp.

Quina, G., H. Fuelberg, B. Mroczka, R. Garza, J. Bradberry, and J. Lanier, 2003: The effects of rainfall network density on river forecasts—A case study in the St. Johns basin. Proceedings of the 2003 Georgia Water Resources Conference, University of Georgia, Athens, paper available on CD.

Turnage, T.J., 2001: Utilizing the Warning Decision Support System for detecting tornadoes associated with tropical storm Helene. Preprints, Eighteenth Conference on Weather Analysis and Forecasting, and Fourteenth Conference on Numerical Weather Prediction, 30 July-2 August, Ft. Lauderdale, FL, Amer. Meteor. Soc.

Watson, A.I., T.J. Turnage, K.J. Gould, J.R. Stroupe, T.P. Lericos, H.E. Fuelberg, C.H. Paxton, and J.E. Burks, 2003: Utilizing the IFPS/GFE to incorporate mesoscale climatologies into the forecast routine at the Tallahassee NWS WFO. Nineteenth Conf on IIPS, American Meteorological Society, Long Beach, Paper 12.5 available on CD.

Watson, A.I., T.P. Lericos, J.D. Fournier, and E.J. Szoke, 2002: Better understanding of QG Theory through the use of D3D. Preprints, Interactive Symposium on AWIPS, Amer. Meteor. Soc., Orlando.

Watson, A.I., J.D. Fournier, T.P. Lericos, and E.J. Szoke, 2002: The use of D3D when examining tropical cyclones. Preprints, Interactive Symposium on AWIPS, Amer. Meteor. Soc., Orlando

Presentations without a written version:

Prof. Fuelberg gave a seminar on lightning at the Weather Workshop 2000 sponsored by the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) in Homestead, FL on November 9, 2000.

Prof. Fuelberg gave a seminar on lightning at the Weather Workshop 2000 sponsored by the Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) in Marianna, FL on December 11, 2000

Mark Jarvis gave a seminar at NWS Tallahassee on March 8, 2001 entitled, “An investigation of forecasting dense fog in the Tallahassee area”.

Fuelberg, H.E. and P.H. Ruscher, 2002: Collaborations between NWS-Tallahassee and FSU Meteorology, Presented at the NWS Southern Region SOO Workshop in Jacksonville Beach, FL on April 17, 2002.


4.1 FSU Perspective

Many FSU students wish to have careers with the National Weather Service upon graduation. The COMET project is a mechanism by which various kinds of students can learn more about operational meteorology. The senior level course that is offered each spring by NWS personnel reaches a large audience, providing information about operational procedures and challenges that are not covered in any other course. The graduate and undergraduate students that participate directly in the COMET sponsored research projects described in this report receive even more intensive education—facilitating a bridge between cutting edge science and operational implementation of research findings. The interactions fostered by this COMET project also have led to collaborative research that is sponsored by other groups (FDOT, FDEP, etc.). Finally, the COMET faculty are sensitized to operational issues and the importance of applied research. The COMET project is a tremendous asset to FSU.

The only problem was that administrative changes at FSU forced Professor Ruscher to assume the duties of Interim Chair for the Fall term 2001, and subsequently serve as Associate Chairman. These duties somewhat limited his activities during that period.

4.2 NWS Perspective

It is my pleasure to write a summary describing the benefits of the collaboration between the Meteorology Department of Florida State University and the NWS. I am indeed impressed with the work performed during this project. Just over one year ago, the NWS WFO Tallahassee moved into our new addition to the Love Building on the campus of FSU collocated with the Meteorology Department. As expected, we are developing new relationships and collaborations with the professors and students of the Meteorology Department, as well as other departments on campus.

We recognize the efforts and accomplishments of this cooperative project. We recognize the students and their hard work under the direction of Profs. Fuelberg and Ruscher. This Final Report is a testament to the cooperation and collaboration between FSU and the NWS. The funding provided by this project has provided students the opportunity to work on NWS projects, as well as experience what it would be like to make the NWS a career. In the last 3 years alone, 3 students in this program have been hired by the NWS, 2 of them were SCEPs. Currently, there are 3 SCEPs in the program. Below are some of the accomplishments that we wish to acknowledge.

Lightning climatologies have been developed for the NWS WFO Tallahassee area, and for all of the peninsula of Florida. These climatologies will not just be pretty pictures forgotten in a book or website, they are being processed to become part of IFPS/GFE. Given a day during the warm season with a particular flow regime, they can be ingested into GFE as a first guess for POPs and thunderstorm areal coverage for all WFOs in the state of Florida.

FSU may not have completely solved our fog problem, but we now have a greater appreciation and understanding of the factors that contribute to fog formation. This new knowledge gives the forecaster more insight into the problem, who can then better anticipate the situations when fog normally develops.

The recently completed study of squall line weakening near Tallahassee demonstrates the relative importance of the land-sea interface, which appears to weaken low-level shear thus weakening the squall line. This is an important aspect for forecasters to consider as squall lines traverse the local area.

As you can see from the report, NWS forecasters have also become an integral part of the collaboration. For example, the Rip Current study was conducted by a NWS forecaster. Based upon the study’s results, a checklist is used daily to determine the risk of rip currents.

A precipitation and upper-air study in the Sea Breeze Forecasting Project is used daily in the warm season to adjust POPs up or down based on moisture availability. This project has lead to a more comprehensive COMET Partners Project examining frequency of precipitation from HPD data for all of NWS Southern Region.

The Minimum Temperature study is a prime example of forecasters, students, professors, and community working on a common goal, to improve NWS minimum temperature forecasts.

The work of lead forecaster, T.J. Turnage, working on his Masters Degree, has conducted a study of tornadoes in the local area. His research results on descending and non-descending mesocylones is used in our evaluation of supercells, and to issue more precise warnings (severe versus tornado) of these storms.

We look forward to continue this relationship with the Meteorology Department and Florida State University.