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Texas Tech University: "1999 National Weather Service/Texas Tech University severe weather conference"

Final Report


The goal of this project was to provide support for the 1999 Lubbock NWS/ TTU Wind Science and Engineering's Regional Severe Weather Conference. The conference was designed to bring together research and operational meteorologists to learn about and discuss topics related to severe weather phenomena in the southern high plains. To accomplish this goal a group of guest speakers was invited to attend the conference and an open call for papers was announced. In addition a special workshop on severe weather forecasting, a poster session, and a panel discussion on the categorizing tornado damage were organized. COMET funds were used to pay for the conference facilities, pay the rental costs for equipment used during the conference, help sponsor travel of some of the invited guests, and to purchase other materials and services. In addition, special arrangements were made to cover the costs of several students to attend the conference from other universities.

The conference was held February 9 through February 11 at the Lubbock Holiday Inn and attracted nearly 150 participants. Presentations covered a wide variety of topics including our current understanding of tornadogenesis, radar and satellite interpretation of severe thunderstorms, lightning detection, hurricane modeling results, and damage survey documentation (including damage surveys of recent tornadic events). The workshop and poster presentations were very successful and insightful, providing a great deal of interaction between conference participants. Finally, the panel discussion provided a forum for panel members and audience members alike to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of using the Fujita scale for rating tornado intensity. Panel members included both meteorologists and engineers, allowing an informative exchange to take place that included an interesting mix of perspectives.

Invited participants for the conference include:

Don Burgess , OSF
Chuck Doswell , NSSL
Roger Edwards , SPC
Les Lemon, Lockheed Martin Ocean, Radar & Sensor Systems
Long Phan, NIST
Eric Rasmussen , NSSL
John Weaver, CIRA

In addition, COMET funding was used to sponsor travel and accommodations for the following students:

Patrick Burke, University of Oklahoma
Daniel Dixon, University of Oklahoma
Karl Shulze, Texas A&M
David Williams, University of Tulsa

Finally, the planning, organizing, and implementation of the conference was done by the following group:

Don Baker, Lubbock NWSFO
Arthur L Doggett, IV, Texas Tech University
Loren Phillips, Lubbock NWSFO
Larry Vannozzi, Lubbock NWSFO

Additional input and support critical to the success of the conference were supplied by:

Andy Anderson, Lubbock NWSFO
Kishor Mehta, Texas Tech University
Richard Peterson, Texas Tech University

The conference itself was the main source of interaction. However, the coordinating of the event required that the Lubbock NWS and Texas Tech personnel interact on a nearly continuous basis. While this may lack scientific benefit, the process of developing the conference provided a unique opportunity for each party to learn how the other one worked. This was particularly true of funding and travel issues. Finally, the coordination and cooperation between the groups strengthen personal relationships between the participants, which will be beneficial for future projects.


No publications resulted directly from this project. See the attached sheet for a complete list of presentations and workshops that were offered during the conference.



There were several major benefits to the University as a result of the conference. First, our students (and students from other universities) were exposed to severe weather from an operational perspective and were able to get a better idea of how materials we have discussed in classes are applied in a forecasting environment. Secondly, the conference provided Texas Tech with exposure to the community in general, and as a result we were able to develop several new research projects as a direct consequence of the conference. In addition, the conference was an ideal forum for the Texas Tech Wind Science and Engineering Program to show case some recent research and damage documentation. The session dedicated to the group provided a good deal of interaction between the engineers and the operational meteorologists. As a result, the meteorologists received a better understanding of how to do a proper damage survey, but equally import, University researchers got insight in to how their advice is actually implemented in the field.

Finally, every opportunity that the Lubbock NWSFO and Texas Tech get to cooperate strengthens the existing bond between the two groups. The two groups have a good history of cooperative activities in the past, and the success of the conference helps ensure that this relationship will continue to be productive.

NWS office:

The bringing together of both meteorologists and engineers (many of whom are highly esteemed and recognized in their respective fields of research) to share knowledge and discuss ideas on the very important subject of severe weather was in and of itself beneficial. Participants were informed on a variety of topics including the latest findings from VORTEX, use of lightning data, use of the WSR-88D radar, and wind damage from tornadoes and hurricanes from an engineering perspective. We received numerous compliments from both the speakers and participants on how well the conference was organized and the variety of topics covered.

One of the benefits of this project to the NWS office in Lubbock was that it strengthened our professional ties with both the Atmospheric Science Group and the Wind Science and Engineering Group at Texas Tech University. We worked very closely with both of these groups throughout the entire planning and organization of the conference. Over the past decade, our office has enjoyed and benefited from a close connection with the professors and graduate students in the Atmospheric Science Group. In this current project, we were able to work more closely with the Wind Science and Engineering Group. This was a very positive experience and one, which will hopefully lead to future interactions.

Presentation List for the 1999 NWS/TTU Severe Weather Conference

Tuesday February 9

Session 1:

Overview of VORTEX Results, and Implications for Forecasting, Warning, and Future Research
Erik Rasmussen, NSSL, Boulder CO

Improvements to NWS Tornado Warnings: Better Understanding and Better Training
Donald Burgess, OSF, Norman OK

Improvements to NWS Tornado Warnings: Better Technology
Jim Belville, OSF, Norman OK

Situation-Specific Severe Weather Warnings
Richard Smith and Steven Piltz, NWSFO, Tulsa OK

Correspondence Between Tornado Damage Paths and WSR-88D Signatures, and Resulting Implications for the Use of "Pathcasts" in Tornado Warnings
Steven Piltz and Richard Smith, NWSFO, Tulsa OK

Session 2:

Mesoanalysis Workshop
Chuck Doswell, NSSL, Norman OK

Session 3:

Relating Visual Aspects of Severe Thunderstorms to Radar Signatures
Les Lemon, Lockheed Martin, Kansas City MO

Lightning: Outreach to the Public, and Flash Data in Operations
Ron Holle, NSSL, Norman OK

Use of Lightning Strike Data in Severe Weather Operations
Brian Curran, NWSO, Midland/Odessa TX

The Short Fuse Composite
Jim Johnson, NWSO, Dodge City KS

Poster Session (evening):

Orographic Effects and Radar Limitations in Central and Northeast New Mexico: The July 24-25, 1996 Severe Weather Outbreak
Kerry Jones, NWSFO, Albuquerque NM

Observations of the Denver Convergence/Vorticity Zone (DCVZ) Using Mobile Mesonets
Albert Pietrycha, NSSL, Boulder CO

A Severe Weather Climatology for New Mexico
Charlie Liles and Deirdre Kann, NWSFO, Albuquerque NM

Storm Spotter Training: Past Accomplishments and Future Initiatives
Gary Woodall, NWS SRH, Fort Worth TX

The Effective Integration of Various Data Sets in the Warning Decision Process: The 27 May 1997 Central Texas Tornado Outbreak
Ed Calianese, NWSFO, Lubbock TX

An Overview of the WSR-88D Build 9.0 Hail Detection Algorithm Performance Across Middle Tennessee
Christopher Darden, NWSFO, Lubbock Tx and Darrell Massie, NWSO, Nashville TN

Comparison of Hurricane Wind Data during Hurricane Bonnie: The Texas Tech Wind Engineering Mobile Instrumented Tower Experiment (WEMITE) and the NWS Wilmington ASOS
Mark Conder, Richard Peterson, John Schroeder, and Doug Smith, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Tornado Prediction: A Markov Decision Process
Zhanyu Ge, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Statistical Indices for Tornado Prediction
Zhanyu GE, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Implications for Forecasting Spatial and Temporal Variability of Blowing Dust across the Texas High Plains
Richard Peterson, Scott Bernier, and Thomas Gill, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Demographics of U.S. Lightning Victims by State
Ron Holle, NSSL, Norman OK

The West Texas Mesonet: Local Scale Resolution Data for the West Texas South Plains
Tim Doggett, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Tornado Warnings from NWSFO Lubbock during the 7 June 1998 Isolated Supercell Event
Brad Grant, OSF, Norman OK and Donald Baker, NWSFO, Lubbock TX

Wednesday February 10

Session 4:

Tornado Shelter Concepts
Ernst W. Kiesling, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

FEMA Shelter Room Booklet
Larry Tanner, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Wind Speeds for Shelters
Anna Gardner, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Wind Speed Assessment from the Birmingham Tornado
Russell Carter, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Tornado Ratings: A Reassessment from Structural Engineering Perspectives
Long Phan, NIST, Washington DC

Windspeeds and Damage in Tornadoes
Tim Marshall, Haag Engineering, Dallas TX

Hurricane Wind Speeds by WEMITE
John Schroeder, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Monte Carlo Simulations for the United States Atlantic and Gulf Coasts
Gary Swirka, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Variability in Design Wind Loads
Douglas Smith, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Engineering Research Needs for Severe Storms
Kishor Mehta, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Session 5:

An Example of a Left-Split Supercell Producing 5-Inch Hail: The Big Spring, TX Storm 10 May 1996
George Mathews, NWSO, Midland/Odessa TX

Heavy Rainfall Patterns and Flooding Associated with Tropical Depression Charley (1998) over Central Texas
Jim Ward, NWSFO, Austin/San Antonio TX

The Role of Mesoscale Boundaries in the Evolution of the 27 May 1997 Central Texas Tornadoes
Lon Curtis, KWTX-TV, Waco TX

Status of the new NSSL Vortex Detection and Diagnosis Algorithm
Greg Stumpf, E. DeWayne Mitchell, V.T. Wood, and P.C. Burke, NSSL, Norman OK

How to Use the new Tornado Detection Algorithm (TDA)
Robert Lee, David Zittel, Mark Fresch OSF, Norman OK

The Fort Collins, CO Flash Flood of 28 July Lessons Learned
John Weaver, Colorado State (CIRA), Fort Collins CO

The Spencer, SD Tornado: Illustrating Damage Survey Issues for Meteorologists
Roger Edwards, SPC, Norman OK and Greg Harmon, NWSFO, Sioux Falls SD

Session 6:

Panel Discussion (evening)

Wind Speed Assessment in Tornadoes - Where do we go from here?


Kishor Mehta, Texas Tech (Moderator)
Roger Edwards, SPC
Chuck Doswell, NSSL
Long Phan, NIST
Tim Marshall, Haag Engineering
Brian Smith, NWSFO Omaha

Thursday February 11

Session 7:

The Local Analysis and Prediction System (LAPS): Review and Update
John McGinley, FSL, Boulder CO

An Overview of the Applications of West Texas Mesonet Data
Tim Doggett, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Comparison of Surface Layer Winds Measured by a Tower and Doppler Radar during a Thunderstorm Outflow Event
Steve Weinbeck, Richard Peterson, and Douglas Smith, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

A Model Study of Hurricane Boundary Layer Winds
Robert Howard and Chia-Bo Chang, Texas Tech, Lubbock TX

Tour of the Texas Tech Wind Engineering Research Center (after final session)