Univ. of Hawaii: "Regional forecast problems, flash flooding"
High winds, wind-driven waves and swell, and flooding caused by tropical cyclones
and midlatitude frontal systems present significant hazards to society and constitute,
therefore, significant forecasting challenges in the Pacific Region. The purpose
of this project was to provide a cooperative environment for meteorological
and hydrometeorological research and learning through which working models of
benefit to both the classroom and operational environments could be developed;
the application of new NWS technologies better understood; and computer-based
software tools and training materials created.
The following objectives were identified for this Cooperative Project:
- Conduct joint research projects to investigate significant regional weather
events (e.g., Hurricane Iniki) and create climatologies of classes of significant
weather events (e.g., Kona Lows), with special focus on the application of new
observing facilities such as the WSR-88D. Several case studies were investigated,
including one of a bow echo that occurred on the island of Kauai in November
- Develop a mesoscale modeling capability at the university directed at simulating
orographically influenced wind flows and precipitation distributions. The Regional
Spectral Model is currently being run with a synoptic domain of 25-km resolution
and a nested domain of 10 km.
- Develop mesoscale diagnostic and forecasting algorithms and tools to aid forecasters,
with special focus on the WSR-88D data (i.e., rainfall retrieval algorithms)
and the flash flooding challenge in Hawaii. Several case studies have been analyzed,
and a climatology of tropical storm tracks in the central Pacific has been completed.
The researchers have also investigated the use of a new tool to improve flash
flood forecasting. The Areal Mean Basin Estimated Rainfall (AMBER) technique
uses high-resolution radar reflectivity data to compute average basin rainfall
estimates for hydrologic basins of various scales.
- Establish high-speed data links between the university and the collocated
NWS office with software-compatible computer platforms.
- Develop a laboratory facility for both educational and operational uses. The
VISIONLAB now brings state-of-the-art workstation technology to the University
of Hawaii. The lab takes advantage of the UNIDATA program's data stream and
other data resources from NOAA and NASA via the Internet to bring in real-time
data. A primary research objective is the mitigation of the impacts of natural
hazards on society and industry through improvements in the understanding and
prediction of regional and local characteristics of these events. One of the
means for doing this is through the application of 2- and 3-D mesoscale primitive
equation models to simulate the case studies collected. Several models are run
on VISIONLAB resources and the output is made available to the NWS, which is
now collocated, with the university.
In addition to the previously mentioned activities, the University of Hawaii
worked with the COMET Program and the NWS Pacific Region headquarters to develop
a Tropical Meteorology Course and Symposium that were held in February of 1995.
The need for training and education curricula for operational forecasters is
particularly acute in the Pacific Region since it encompasses such a vast geographic
area and includes tropical mesoscale weather regimes that have received significantly
less scientific attention in the past. Accordingly, the focus of the course
was on weather phenomena of particular interest in the region (rainbands, frontal
weather associated with extratropical systems, and tropical cyclones) and on
the use of the new observing tools for detecting and analyzing them.