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RAMMB Scientific Quarterly Report - 1st Quarter FY 99


  • Severe Storms

    Weaver, Dostalek, Grasso, Hilgendorf, Bikos, Motta

    A paper entitled “Examples of nowcasting in central Plains and southeastern United States severe thunderstorm environments using satellite and Doppler radar” by J. Weaver, E, Hilgendorf, L. Grasso, and K. Pence (NWS) was submitted to Weather and Forecasting.  The paper demonstrates how the combination of satellite imagery and Doppler radar data together produce much more accurate severe thunderstorm nowcasts than either one alone.

    The paper  “Severe Thunderstorms on 31 May 1996: A Satellite Training Case” by J. Weaver, J. Dostalek, B. Motta, and J.F.W. Purdom is in press at National Weather Digest.  No final publication date has been assigned.

    The data collection segment of the Lubbock, TX dryline experiment is complete.  Several interesting cases of severe weather in the Texas panhandle have been documented.  Research on a severe weather outbreak that occurred  on 25 May 1999 is continuing.  This work will culminate in a journal article (see Lubbock Dryline Experiment).

    A case study entitled “A Satellite Perspective of the 3 May 1999 Oklahoma Tornado Outbreak and Comments on Lightning Activity” is being developed for the National Symposium on the Great Plains Tornado Outbreak of 3 May 1999 in Norman, OK from 2-5 May 2000.  The study will focus on synoptic and mesoscale aspects of the tornado outbreak using GOES satellite imagery and cloud-to-ground lightning data.


    Figure 1a

    Example of GOES-East and GOES-West visible imagery from 3 May 1999 showing mature tornadic thunderstorms over southwest Oklahoma.  Image time for both is 2215 UTC.



    Figure 1b

    WSR-88D, 0.5 degree-tilt  reflectivity image from Frederick, Oklahoma at  2215 UTC, and loud-to-ground lightning strikes for the period 2200 – 2215 UTC. 

  • Tropical

    Tropical Cyclones

    DeMaria, Zehr, Hilgendorf, Knaff, Phillips

    Large geostationary image data sets were archived to support hurricane research.  Thirty-minute interval GOES IR 4 km Mercator remapped images in MCIDAS format from 1999 Atlantic and Eastern Pacific tropical cyclones were added to the CD-ROM archive which now contains over 22,000 images with 89 cases on 14 CDs.  After additional processing there will be at least 26,000 images with 107 tropical cyclones.  This project will support research on a variety of topics.  Motion relative composite images stratified by intensity and cloud asymmetry measurements have been completed with a small subset of the archive.

    Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO) data sets were archived during the 1999 hurricane season for several periods with Hurricanes Dora, Bret, Dennis, Floyd, and Irene.  The 1-minute interval images are to be used to derive high density wind sets and analyses of upper core wind fields for use along with aircraft observations to investigate intensity change.  This year’s data sets were improved due to the capability to define the sector with a latitude-longitude center as opposed to predefined sectors.  Unprecedented SRSO data coverage was obtained with Hurricane Floyd with  2-5 hours of SRSO on eight consecutive days capturing most of its life cycle.

    Research continues on a quantitative assessment of the vertical wind shear forcing on hurricane intensity change.  Preliminary analyses of 1999 Hurricanes Bret and Floyd were completed to assess vertical wind shear influences in addition to investigation of minimum sea level pressure – maximum wind relationships.  Aircraft reconnaissance center fix data were archived for the 1999 flights.

    Rainfall data associated with 50 more land-falling tropical cyclones were extracted from the NCDC archive CD-ROMS.  We now have 116 cyclones, both hurricanes and tropical storms, represented in our database.  These will be utilized in a research program to be sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide a historical archive of rainfall patterns from land-falling tropical cyclones.  That archive would then be utilized to develop a statistical rainfall forecasting algorithm whereby the climatological rainfall rate could be adjusted using current storm information and satellite imagery.

    The development of a program to identify rapidly intensifying tropical cyclones is continuing.  Recent progress has been made in changing the code to conform with McIDAS 7.5.  Development will continue during the next quarter.

    A note submitted to Weather and Forecasting entitled “Temperature structures of two similarly appearing cyclone systems from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit” by John Knaff, Raymond Zehr, Mitchell Goldberg, and Stan Kidder was accepted pending revisions.  The note presents details of middle and upper tropospheric temperature differences between two cyclone systems, one a decaying tropical cyclone and the other that had a clear subtropical origin. Revisions continue.

    A paper discussing deep convective oscillations in tropical cyclones by J. Knaff and R. Zehr has been written, submitted for internal review, and is being prepared for submission to the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society.

  • Extra Tropical Cyclones

    Extra Tropical Cyclones



    Data from the Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) has been used to retrieve wind fields at the mandatory pressure levels for a mid-latitude low in the eastern Pacific.  The method uses temperature retrievals from the AMSU, with boundary conditions supplied from the National Center for Environmental Prediction’s Aviation model, to generate the height field.  A linear balance equation is used to produce the wind field.  Work continues to resolve contamination from precipitation and cloud liquid water as well a more timely methods for creating solving the non-linear balance equation.

    Work has begun to use AMSU data to generate height and wind fields in a similar manner as has been applied to the tropical cyclone.  For this project a single stationary region off the West Coast of the United States has been chosen as a test region.  Results will be displayed in semi-real-time on the World Wide Web.

    In preparation for the upcoming Pacific Landfalling Jets Experiment (PACJET), to be held during the winter season 2000/2001: A program entitled ret2grad.f was written to convert the ASCII output of heights, temperature, the u- and v-component of the wind at 10 pressure levels, as well as surface pressure to GrADS format.  This will allow for flexible data analysis for case studies from the experiment.  A program entitled AMSUMD.PGM was written to convert ASCII data of winds derived from AMSU temperature retrievals into a McIDAS MD file, which allows the vectors to be overlaid on satellite imagery.  These programs, in addition to the overall retrieval scheme, will be tested, modified, and applied to case studies as necessary during the next year in preparation for PACJET.

  • Natural Hazards

    Natural Hazards

    Zehr, Weaver, Connell


    Following the Ft. Collins flood of 28 July 1997, a lack of training for E-911 dispatchers in catastrophic weather-related incidents was found to be common to many natural disasters that have occurred across the country over the past eight years (period researched).   Natural disaster response cards for dispatchers, aimed at in-service training and real-time guidance, were designed then reviewed by NWS staff, scientists, emergency managers, as well as FEMA and Red Cross staff.  The cards are now on the web, and initial reviews from emergency managers around the country are positive.  The first VISIT teletraining session describing this work was given this quarter.  Input from WCMs and EMs at Goodland and Wichita in Kansas, and the WCM at Norman Oklahoma that took this first course was helpful.   Cards may be viewed at:

Applications Development

  • GOES Product Improvement

    GOES Product Improvement and Development

    Hillger, Campbell, Combs, Dostalek


    An article entitled “GOES Sounder Derived Product Imagery: Comparisons to Radiosondes and Use in Forecasting Severe Convection” by J. Dostalek and T. Schmit (of CIMSS at the University of Wisconsin-Madison) was submitted to Weather and Forecasting.  The article compares the performance of the GOES-8 sounder derived product imagery’s (DPI) total precipitable water (TPW) and lifted index (LI) products to radiosonde derived values for the 12 month period March 1998-February 1999, and demonstrates the usefulness of the TPW and LI DPI in forecasting and monitoring a dryline thunderstorm outbreak on the western Plains on 17 June 1998.

  • POES Data and Products

    POES Data and Products


    At the request of Jim Purdom and Paul Menzel, data from the new Chinese FY-1C polar satellite was received from Chris Moeller at CIMSS and was analyzed at CIRA using structure analysis to estimate the noise in all 10 bands.  The analysis uses a homogeneous region on the image to determine the noise between adjacent pixels by removing any gradient by extrapolation.  Results show that noise in the visible channels is about 1 count, in the shortwave window is 2 to 4 counts, in the longwave window is 2 to 3 counts, in the dirty window is 6 counts, in the 1.6 um channel is 1 to 3 counts; and in the ocean color bands, is less than 1 count (all out of 10 bit digitization).

  • Satellite/Radar


    Weaver, Motta, Hilgendorf


    A journal submission to Weather and Forecasting entitled “Examples of nowcasting in central Plains and southeastern United States severe thunderstorm environments using satellite and Doppler radar,” by J. Weaver, E. Hilgendorf, L. Grasso, and K. Pence (NWS) is in review. 

  • Precipitation


    Grasso, Hilgendorf

    A multi-platform precipitation algorithm which includes surface observations and satellite data, is being changed for use with McIDAS 7.5.  This algorithm is meant to estimate a maximum potential rainfall for the purpose of assisting in flash flood forecasting.

    Based on reviewer comments, a note entitled “Observations of anvil reflectivity at 3.9 µm as viewed from GOES imagery” that was submitted to Monthly Weather Review is being expanded into a full article.

  • Climatology


    Connell, Combs


    Processing of the US climatologies continued on schedule. These included large sector composites for September, October, and November 1999, and wind regime composites for August, September, and October 1999. Combined products cover 1998 and 1999 for GOES channels 1 and 4 were processed for August, September, and October.

    The cloud cover percentage climatologies, covering the east and midwest US for the summer months of June, July and August for 1998 and 1999, were also combined. This was done for each daylight hour, creating a time series loop. The results will soon be shown on the RAMM team website.



    Figure 1a

    Percent cloud cover as determined by compositing  visible channel images taken at 1245 UTC for June, July, and August 1998-1999



    Figure 1b

    Percent cloud cover as determined by compositing visible channel images taken at 1845 UTC for June, July, and August 1998-1999

    Click on images to enlarge

    The Tallahassee Summer Sea Breeze Satellite climatology project was initiated in the summer of 1995 to develop satellite composites based on low-level flow regimes.  During the last few months, visible imagery from June, July, and August for 1999 were checked for navigation and added to the existing archive.  The archive now contains 4 summers of satellite images.  Ken Gould with the NWS in Tallahassee has worked with CIRA in the development of these composites.  A mean boundary layer wind for each day is determined at the Tallahassee WFO and the satellite images are composited for the 9 regime types.  This summer, the compositing process was switched from an average to a threshold technique.  This gives a more quantitative result and is depicted as cloud frequency.  A paper has been prepared for the AMS annual meeting to be held in January 2000.


    Figure 2a

    Example of cloud frequency differences found between 4 of the regimes for 1715 UTC


    Figure 2b

    Example of cloud frequency differences found between 4 of the regimes for 2115 UTC

  • Mesoscale Modeling

    Mesoscale Modeling


    The Regional Atmospheric Modeling System (RAMS) was used in an idealized setting to simulate the cold pool of a supercell.  An examination of the morphology of the horizontal vorticity vectors within the cold pool followed. Results suggested that baroclinic forcing was not the dominate process in producing vertical motion. Divergence, tilting, and sub-grid scale mixing were equally important. In some locations, the baroclinic forcing term was the smallest.

    A paper entitled “The development of enhanced horizontal vorticity within a supercell cold pool” was submitted  to Monthly Weather Review.

  • Winds and Cloud Heights

    Winds and Cloud Heights



    A test has been completed estimating cloud motion and height from two different polar orbiter platforms.  The multiple view Polder Observations were combined with AVHRR to show some skill in deriving cloud motion and height over Alaska.  The accuracy is limited by the 6 km resolution of the Polder data.

    Polder visible wavelength image centered at 70 north and 157 west.  The numbers show heights in hectometers (1 = 100 meters).  Image taken at 2300 UTC on 19 June 1997. Click on image to enlarge

    Computer-code for cloud tracking and for height and motion analysis was transferred to the U.S. Air Force for testing and possible implementation in their real time weather analysis.

    Collaboration with Eumetsat is continuing with an effort to test the methods with a combination of AVHRR and Meteosat.

Outside Interaction

  • National Labs

    National Labs

    Weaver, Motta, Zehr

    Several RAMM team staff served as COMET-COMAP mentors in the NCAR Autonowcaster group.  The group learned about the algorithms that are used to process the Doppler radar data that in turn generate the autonowcasts.  These automated nowcasts will be used as part of SCAN by the NWS in AWIPS.  Possible applications and current efforts involving GOES satellite data and Rapid Scan Operations imagery were discussed.

    Interaction continues with Hurricane Research Division (HRD) at AOML on use of Tropical RAMSDIS and collaborative research projects.

  • Universities


    Zehr, Grasso, Molenar, Weaver


    J. Weaver and N. Doesken (Colorado Climate Center, Colorado State University) have submitted an abstract to the 12th Conference on Applied Climatology entitled “Microscale rainfall variations as measured by a local volunteer network.”  The paper reports on results from the first two years of data collection by citizen-participants in a city-wide, volunteer precipitation measuring mesonetwork.

    As in past years during the “hurricane season,”  daily briefings were presented in the CIRA Lab with participation of CSU faculty and graduate students.  Briefings were presented by CIRA personnel and CSU graduate students.  A short article regarding the briefings appeared in the CIRA Newsletter.

    An empirical method for predicting the 24-hour intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, is being run in real time for evaluation with 1999 Atlantic and Eastern Pacific cases.  This is a new version of the technique which was initially developed in 1992 by Ray Zehr and Roger Phillips.  It combines qualitative input based on animated GOES imagery with quantitative information on vertical wind shear and sea surface temperature from operational models. This work is supervised by Ray Zehr, and is being done by Todd Kimberlain and Eric Blake, Colorado State University graduate students.

    Interaction continues with NCAR (Dr. Mel Shapiro) and Pennsylvania State University (PSU) on VIS-5D formatted MM5 model output for the winter season snow storm case currently under examination/development for training.  The Boston, MA NWS WFO is also participating in identifying the training topics in the case.

    Using eight consecutive days (September 8-15) of SRSO (1-minute interval) images that were requested for 2-3 hour periods during Hurricane Floyd, high-density winds will be created using a modified version of the CIMSS, University of Wisconsin wind code.  This collaborative research with C. Velden will examine the potential relationships between tropical cyclone intensity and the upper-level cyclonic outflow and the evolution of the upper-level wind field in this hurricane.

    L. Grasso continued to collaborate with doctoral students on the numerical simulations of convective storms.

  • NWS


    Dostalek, Motta, Molenar, Weaver, Bikos, Connell, DeMaria, Zajac


    The Science and Operations Officers from WFO Sioux Falls, SD and WFO Tallahassee, FL are assisting B. Zajac in the development of the second VISIT teletraining session on lightning.  This session will present radar-lightning case studies from severe weather outbreaks over both regions.  Lightning experts from the National Severe Storms Laboratory are also assisting with the session, providing text and figures for a section on thunderstorm electrification.

    B. Zajac is collaborating with the Science and Operations Officer and a lead forecaster from WFO Pueblo, CO to develop a 10-year climatology of cloud-to-ground lightning activity over Colorado.  The climatology will document the spatial, annual, and diurnal distributions of cloud-to-ground lightning.

    J. Weaver and J. Dostalek are continuing their work with Loren Phillips, SOO at Lubbock, TX, on the 25 May 1999 thunderstorm case.  See Lubbock Dryline Experiment

    Kevin Schrab of NWS WRH visited CIRA on Nov. 1.   Kevin made several improvements to the RAMM psuedo AWIPS capabilities, including the addition of access to NWS WRH AWIPS experimental satellite products and the ability to display real-time satellite data from the CIRA groundstation in the satellite projection.  Bugs in the satellite display are still being addressed.

    The Boston, MA NWS WFO is participating in identifying the training topics in the winter storm case.
    M. De Maria, J. Knaff, and B. Motta participated in the NWS/OM GOES Assessment meeting and the NOAA/SAO GOES Image Assessment.

    Interaction with the Tallahassee WFO continued and preliminary results of visible cloud frequency composites for 1996-1999 have been obtained.  For more information and product examples, see the  Climatology section.

    M. DeMaria participated in the NWS Hurricane Floyd Service Assessment.  The final report is scheduled to be completed in February, 2000.

  • Product Oversight Panel


    On December 8, Don Hillger presented a talk at the R&D Council Plenary Session on Soundings and Winds.  The talk was on “Asynchronous Stereo Cloud Height and Motion,” work done mainly by Garrett Campbell at CIRA.

  • WMO



    Two CIRA staff members prepared and presented lectures for a WMO sponsored 2- week satellite meteorology training event held at the Regional Meteorological Training Center in Costa Rica during 6-17 December.  Topics included: An introduction to the GOES Imager channels, Sounder Channels, mesoscale cloud drift winds from satellites, GOES imager calibration and image quality, mesoscale features in weather analysis and forecasting, volcanic ash and dust detection, the Dvorak tropical cyclone intensity techniques, and satellite climatologies.  Labs were held on radiative transfer, feature identification, imagery at rapid intervals, water vapor imagery,  Dvorak technique, satellite climatology, and fire detection.  Computers were used for the lab exercises and near real time imagery were used by the participants in the daily weather briefings.  A project to make RAMSDIS available to all countries was announced and received strong interest.

    Other lectures were presented at the same training event by faculty and staff at the Universidad de Costa Rica, Instituto Meteorologico Nacional, Universidad Nacional, Instituto Costtarricense de Electricidad, and the WMO.  The training event was attended by 19 WMO sponsored participants from 16 countries in Central and South America and the Caribbean (Argentine, Bahamas, Bolivia, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Netherland Antilles, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela).  Participants from four countries in Central America were sponsored by the Hurricane Mitch recovery efforts (Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Honduras).  Locally from the University of Costa Rica, 5 BSc students (Paraguay, 2 from Venezuela, and 2 from Costa Rica), 5 RMTC graduate students from Mexico, and 5 participants from the National Meteorological Service attended.

  • Miscellaneous (Meetings and Visitors)


    DeMaria, Motta, Molenar, Watson, Dostalek, Weaver, Zehr, Hillger, Zajac, Hilgendorf, Gosden

    Collaborative work continues with the Indo – US Tropical Cyclone Project.  The 2nd Science Group Meeting for the cooperative research projects with NOAA/NASA and Indian scientists met on 15-17 November 1999, at the Ashoka Hotel, New Delhi, INDIA.  R. Zehr is co – principal investigator with Dr. S.R. Kalsi of the India Meteorological Department.  The title of the Project is “Development of operational techniques to predict the intensity and movement of cyclone storms and associated surges.”  A work plan was finalized with a time line for First Year activities and the longer-term goals for a 3-year plan. Case studies of the three 1999 tropical cyclones in the North Indian Ocean are to be completed in the first year using combined analyses of available satellite data sets, and to evaluate additional information from the newer data sets (such as microwave imager and sounder, scatterometer data, satellite wind vectors).


    To Visitors



    Travelers Destinations Meetings, Conferences, Courses Funding Dates Trip Reports
    D. Molenar
    T. Smith
    Madison, WI MUG Meeting
    4 & 5
    M. DeMaria Islip, NY/Washington, DC/Miami Hurricane Floyd Service Assesment
    4 – 8
    B. Zajac Norman, OK OTB, NSSL
    11 – 13
    T. Smith El Salvador, Guatemala, 
    Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica
    Mitch Recovery
    11 – 22
    M. DeMaria Washington, DC, Raleigh, NC, 
    and Atlanta, GA
    USWRP Meeting
    Hurricane Floyd Service Assessment Meetings
    18 – 22
    D. Hillger
    J. Knaff
    L. Grasso
    Boulder, CO NOAA Science Advisory Board – Presentations included modeling dry line sensitivity to soil moisture, applications of the advanced microwave sounding unit in examining tropical cyclones, and asynchronous satellite derived stereo wind and height calculations. x Oct 19 x
    B. Zajac Pueblo, CO Meeting w. Steve Hodanish (NWS)
    Oct 26
    B. Zajac Boulder, CO Sioux Falls NWS WFO Meetingx x Oct 27 
    B. Zajac Boulder, CO STEP Field Project Meeting, NCAR x Nov 1
    J. Weaver
    B. Motta
    D. Hillger
    Boulder, CO COMETGOES Image Evaluation Meeting x Nov 2
    M. DeMaria
    B. Motta
    J. Knaff
    D. Hillger
    Boulder, CO NWS GOES Sounder/Auto-Estimator Assessment Meeting x Nov 
    3 – 4
    J. Knaff Boulder, CO Sounder Meeting x Nov 5 x
    M. DeMaria St. Louis, MO Hurricane Floyd Service Assessment Meetings
    8 – 10
    R. Zehr New Delhi, India Science Meeting
    Nov 12-20
    J. Knaff San Jose, Costa Rica WMO/RMTC Satellite 
    Climatology Course
    Dec 6 – 14
    B. Connell San Jose, Costa Rica WMO/RMTC Satellite 
    Climatology Course
    6 – 17
    D. Hillger Washington, DC SOCC/POP Meetings
    6 – 14
    M. DeMaria
    B. Motta
    B. Zajac
    Boulder, CO Director’s Tea at CIRES x Dec 10 x
    D. Hillger Washington, DC DOC Bronze Medal Award Ceremony
    13 & 14

    Back to the top


    Date of Visit
    RAMMT Contact
    Jim Purdom RAMMT visit
    Oct 6 & 7
    ORA, Washington, DC M. DeMaria
    Jim Gurka Discussion of future NWS use of RAMSDIS systems
    Oct 13
    NWS, Office of Meteorology M. DeMaria
    John Paquette/Tom Renkeven Specialized RAMSDIS units demo
    Oct 21
    Synoptic Analysis Branch  D. Hillger
    Representatives Tour of  RAMSDIS research area
    Oct 21
    NOAA Science Advisory Board D. Hillger
    Jeff Hawkins Geosciences Review/Discussion of tropical cyclone applications of satelltie data with RAMMT/CIRA
    Oct 29
    NRL M. DeMaria
    Chris Velden To discuss aspects of upcoming collaborative research efforts, high-density winds using SRSO imagery associated with Hurricane Floyd, and the upcoming USWRP PACJET experiment. Nov 1 CIMSS, SSEC
    University of Wisconsin-Madison
    R. Zehr
    Kevin Schrab  Improvements to RAMMT AWIPS capabilities
    Nov 1
    NWS WRHQ D. Molenar
    Jim Purdom RAMMT visit
    Nov 1
    ORA, Washingon, DC M. DeMaria
    John Ogren Briefing on Natural Disaster Information Cards
    Nov 4
    NWS Warning Coordination Meteorologist J. Weaver
    Jim Purdom RAMMT visit
    Nov 8
    ORA, Washington, DC M. DeMaria
    Chad Johnson McIDAS class
    8 – 10
    McIDAS Training/SSEC, University of Wisconsin-Madison D. Molenar
    Vilma Castro Planning for December WMO course in Costa Rica.  Review of satellite climatology/ new NT-McIDAS system capabilities.
    8 – 12
    RMTC, Costa Rica B. Connell
    Anthony Reale Briefing on status of AMSU products from NOAA-15
    Dec 16
    Forecast Products Development Team/ARAD/NESDIS M. DeMaria
    Jim Purdom DOC Demo discussion
    RAMMT meetings
    Dec 21
    ORA, Washington, DC M. DeMaria


Field Experiments

  • HRD and CAMEX 3

    HRD and CAMEX 3

    Zehr, Watson

    Rapid scan imaging requests for hurricane research were coordinated with research aircraft missions of NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division (HRD).

  • RAMM/CSU Northeast Colorado Severe Weather Experiment

    RAMM/CSU Northeast Colorado Severe Weather Experiment

    Zajac, Weaver, Dostalek

    Three relatively insignificant cases of severe weather were observed during 1999 (17 June, 10 August, and 2 September).  These cases were reviewed, and found to be not worthy of further study.

  • Lubbock Dryline Experiment

    Lubbock Dryline Experiment

    Weaver, Dostalek

    The nonclassical splitting storm case which occurred near Lubbock, TX, on 25 May 1999 has been chosen for further study.  This case will be compared and contrasted to a classic splitting thunderstorm.  The search for a classic case is currently underway, with the following possible dates: 30 May 1996, 17 May 1996, 26 May 1999, and 10 May 1996.  A journal article with Loren Phillips, SOO at Lubbock, will complete the study.


  • Severe Thunderstorm Electrification and Precipitation Study (STEPS) 2000

    Severe Thunderstorm Electrification and Precipitation Study (STEPS) 2000

    Zajac, Weaver, Bikos

    The RAMMT will support STEPS by providing real-time satellite imagery during the experiment, and access to archived digital satellite data following the study.  These data will include Rapid Scan Observations, and possibly Super Rapid Scan Observations.  In addition, joint studies of the STEPS data are expected, including research of the forecast utility of cloud-to-ground lightning data in severe weather scenarios.

Technology Transfer and Training

  • Web Pages

    Web Pages

    DeMaria, Phillips, Dostalek, Hillger, Motta, Weaver, Knaff


    A suite of Netscape Enterprise Servers (NES) has been acquired from NOAA.  The NES will be utilized to implement an Intranet as well as Extranet at the CIRA/RAMM Team site.  The project is already underway.

    The Team’s web pages were routinely updated as necessary to reflect its current activities and to inform users of newly developed products and/or web-based resources.

    A RAMM PACJET web page is under development.  This site will feature satellite images and AMSU products developed by the RAMM Team over portions of the West Coast of the United States and East Pacific, specifically, 25N to 55N and 160W to 120W.

    Information concerning the likelihood of tropical cyclone genesis in the tropical Atlantic Ocean is now updated daily and available on the World Wide Web.  Parameters include a measure of zonal vertical wind shear and instability derived from the NCEP Aviation Model Analysis and GOES water vapor brightness temperatures calculated in a box 8 to 18° N and 35 to 55° W.  These parameters are combined into a single index that is positive when environmental conditions are favorable for tropical cyclones to form.  For more information see:

    Several parameters related to the probability for tropical Atlantic hurricane activity have been derived solely from the GOES-8 soundings.  Parameters include Lifted Index, 900 hPa – 700 hPa precipitable water, Maximum Potential Intensity (given as minimum eyewall pressure), and two experimental thermodynamic genesis potential products.  Preliminary analysis suggests that the mid-level water vapor plays an important role in determining periods of tropical cyclone activity. This work will continue for next year  and all products are updated daily and are available at:

    The VISIT web page has been redesigned and updated.

    A loop showing 15-min rainfall accumulations and a graph showing the corresponding number of E-911 phone calls for the night of the Fort Collins flood have been updated on J. Weaver’s web presentation on the Fort Collins flood.  The new material can be accessed at:   Choose “Flash Flood” from the frames menu, choose Weaver presentation, then go to “Late Evening Rain” for the accumulations loops, or “Runoff and Rain Totals” for the E-911 graphs.


  • Virtual Lab

    Phillips, Weaver, Zehr, Watson


    System Update has been implemented on the Virtual Lab server.

    Repairs were made to the virtual lab system after a hard disk failure.  The system and data sets are being restored from tape.

  • Satellite Interpretation Discussion

    Satellite Interpretation Discussion


    The on-line training and discussion effort known as the “Satellite Interpretation Discussion” continues to be well received by the user community and continues as a regular activity of the RAMMT.  T

  • Tutorials


    Phillips, Watson

    At the request of the Director of ORA, copies of the Team’s web-based “GOES 3.9 µm Channel” and “Advanced GOES Imagery Applications” tutorials were placed onto CD-ROMs and delivered to contacts in Australia, Germany, Japan, and Kenya.  This will allow scientists in those countries to view the modules through their web browsers locally, independent from connections to the Internet.



    Molenar, Connell, Dostalek, Gosden, Smith, Hillger


    Tropical RAMSDIS was used extensively for IR image archiving, product development and evaluation, and for daily hurricane briefings.  Sea-surface temperature loops, AMSU Channel 7 images, and Meteosat-5 (at 63E longitude) loops were added.  The addition of Meteosat-5 provides optimum global coverage of tropical weather systems with 5 geostationary satellites.

    Two NT-McIDAS systems were set up and shipped to Costa Rica and Barbados.

    Five 4-km sectors of visible, 3.9, 6.7, and 10.7 micrometer imagery covering northern Central America, the Caribbean, as well as northern, central and southern South America were set up at CIRA and used at the RMTC training in Costa Rica during 6-17 December for daily weather discussions.

    A software upgrade was sent out to all of the RAMSDIS field sites.   This upgrade will bring the systems into Y2K compliance.

    The software running the ingest of satellite data on the GOES Sounder RAMSDIS has been upgraded to be Y2K compliant.

    Several application programs along with calibration and navigation modules have been modified on the RAMSDIS-OS/2 system to allow processing of more datasets.

    The Sounder RAMSDIS system has been upgraded with the RAMSDIS 7.5 software package.

    A trip to five Central American countries was made my Todd Smith in order to evaluate the feasibility of installing RAMSDIS workstations in each country.  This is part of the Hurricane Mitch Restoration Project.

    Continuing technical support has been supplied to all RAMSDIS field sites including troubleshooting and implementing configuration modifications.

    The Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC) RAMSDIS was upgraded in December with the latest McIDAS and RAMSDIS software.  The SOCC RAMSDIS is a specialized version of the standard RAMSDIS developed at RAMMT/CIRA.  Basic capabilities of the SOCC RAMSDIS include viewing all 5 GOES channels at full spatial resolution (1 km visible, 4 km IR) for a sector chosen by the user.  Image loops for 12 hours of half-hour imagery (the maximum resolution available on the RAMSDIS servers) are available.  Sounder images are also available in a 12-hour loop, and all 19 Sounder channels are viewable for the most recent image time.  RAMSDIS units are currently running McIDAS 7.5 which is Y2K compliant.  Specific improvements to the system included better timing on obtaining Sounder images from the RAMSDIS servers so that images are not clipped.  This RAMSDIS unit is used for quality control analysis of data from both the GOES Imager and Sounder.

    In December the ‘SAL’ RAMSDIS in the 6th floor lab of the World Weather Building was upgraded with the latest McIDAS and RAMSDIS software.  The SAL RAMSDIS is a standard version of RAMSDIS developed at RAMMT/CIRA but with some special image loops.  The first loop contains a visible albedo product.  The other loop contains a shortwave albedo product which is computed from GOES channels 2 and 4.  Two other loops contain imagery for a sector chosen by the user.  One loop contains longwave and shortwave IR channel 4, 5 and 2 images and the other loop contains Principal Component Images (PCIs) which are channel sum and difference products generated from the three IR bands.  The three components are accompanied by an explanatory graph showing the channels that make up the components.  All four components and the graph fit into one 4-panel display that contains imagery for 8 hours of data.  The specialized loops are designed to look at volcanic ash and hot spots/fires.  A similar floater loop is available on the Synoptic Analysis Branch (SAB) RAMSDIS.  The SAB RAMSDIS was delivered in 1999 but some software upgrades were made to existing software on that system used for volcanic ash and hot spot/fire detection.

    The prototype Sounder RAMSDIS at CIRA has been upgraded to McIDAS 7.5 software, making it Y2K compliant.  The upgrade involved modifications to most of the software used to manipulate and display GOES Sounder imagery and image products.  Imagery from this RAMSDIS can be viewed on RAMSDIS On-line for experimental products on the Web at:
    In addition, a second computer has been dedicated to collecting and displaying data from the GOES Sounder at CIRA.  With two systems, images and image products from both GOES-East and GOES-West can be displayed in real-time loops.  Eventually the new GOES-West products will be available for all to see on the experimental version of RAMSDIS Online.

    D. Molenar and T. Smith  attended the annual McIDAS User’s Group meeting in Madison, Wisconsin on Oct. 4-5.  Arrangements were made for a 3-day McIDAS Programmer training schedule  at the CIRA.  Meetings were also held with representatives of EUMETSAT to discuss use of RAMSDIS software for training purposes.  It was agreed  that EUMETSAT would further define training requirements, and that RAMSDIS software would be made available if it met the EUMETSAT training needs.

  • RAMSDIS Online

    Watson, Hillger

    A new data server, strictly dedicated to RAMSDIS Online, was set up and data was transferred from the old server. This move will better handle the many RAMSDIS Online users, as the data requests have been tying up the CIRA FTP server.  This will also allow for a faster data flow.



    Motta, Bikos, Zajac, Weaver, Zehr

    Seventy-five NWS offices received VISIT teletraining sessions during this time period. The topics included 7 RSO sessions, 3 on LTO boundaries, and 5 on CONUS CG-lightning.  Some changes were made to the RSO session in response to feedback from the evaluations. For the most part feedback has been positive for all the VISIT teletraining sessions.  Nine hundred twenty-four certificates of completion have been mailed to date.

    The above graph shows the results of evaluation by class participants in all teletraining courses taught April through December 1999.  These statistics are used to continuously monitor the effectiveness of the training and the training materials.  The graph indicates that the vast majority of participants are very satisfied (yellow and blue bars are the top two categories of agreement) with the material in all categories polled.  Click on image to enlarge

    Research and development for new tutorials on Winter Snow Storms and on Lake Effect Snow has just begun. The prime case study for the winter snow storms is on an east-coast nor’easter and will consider synoptic and smaller-scale observations, forecasts, and watch/warning decision making.  Two NWS offices (Buffalo and Detroit) have expressed an interest in helping with the development of the LES session.

    A new, multi-part teletraining course is being designed on the topic of low-level boundaries.  Sub-topics addressed will include, for example, LTO boundaries, cold fronts, warm fronts, drylines etc.   The introductory session has been reviewed/critiqued in-house, and will be used for VISIT tele-training sessions starting in January.





    Lectures presented at the COMET Mesoscale Analysis and Prediction (COMAP) series in Boulder CO last quarter were prepared for the World Wide Web.

  • Community Outreach

    Community Outreach


    J. Weaver continues as the NOAA representative on the City of Fort Collins’ Project Impact steering committee.  Project Impact is a FEMA-funded effort which provides “seed money” to several cities in each state to develop innovative ideas for disaster mitigation.  Weaver’s thrust is aimed at getting FEMA to think of weather  information as a potential mitigation tool.



    Connell, Hilgendorf, Knaff

    Archival of satellite imagery for climatology continues.  Imagery for the months of September, October, and November were sent to Costa Rica, while imagery for September was sent to Barbados.

    GOES-8 imagery from August 23 – 27, 1999, when Hurricane Emily (then a tropical depression) affected the Windward and Leeward Islands, was sent to the Regional Meteorological Training Center (RMTC) in Barbados for case study.

    B. Connell and J. Knaff prepared material for, and presented lectures at, a two-week satellite meteorology training event held at the RMTC in Costa Rica during 6-17 December.  The training used RAMSDIS and RAMSDIS online during lectures, labs and weather discussions.  There were 34 participants from Central and South American and Caribbean Countries.  For more details see the WMO section.

  • Training




    See VISIT


    B. Connell, T. Smith, and D. Molenar met with Tom Yoksas of Unidata to demo Unidata’s version of Man computer Interactive Data Analysis System for Unix (McIDAS-X) using the Linux operating system and to explore utilization of Linux McIDAS-X as a future PC RAMSDIS platform.  A tentative agreement was reached on a project to create a complete Linux McIDAS-X package that can be used in the expanding WMO Training project.  The package will include Unidata McIDAS-X plus Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Team satellite ingest, display and applications.

    B. Motta completed COMET Mesoscale Analysis and Prediction – 1999  course.

    A representative from the University of Wisconsin Space Science and Engineering Center presented a 3-day training session on McIDAS Programming November 8-10 at CIRA.  Topics covered included the new programming environment for McIDAS-NT and McIDAS-X.

    Being Developed:

    In support of the Brazil Fire Project (IBAMA – Instituto Brasilerio do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis), work is underway to develop McIDAS 7.5-based programs to identify and document the locations of forest fires in Brazil.  The goal is to complete programming early in this next quarter, test the program on the Brazil system, then deliver the system and train the scientists in Brazil on the use of the programs.

  • Publications




    DeMaria, M., 1999: Contribution to Tropical Cyclone-related NWP products and their guidance.  A. Radford (ed.), World Meteorological Organization, 49 pp.



    Campbell, G.G. and J.F.W. Purdom, 2000:  Asynchronous stereo height and motion retrieval from satellite observations. J. of Atmos. and Oceanic Technology.

    Chase, T.N., R.A. Pielke, J.A. Knaff, T.G.G. Kittel, J.L. Eastman, 2000: A comparison of Regional Trends in 1979-1997 depth-averaged tropospheric temperatures.  Int. J. Climatol.

    Connell, B.H. and K. Gould, 2000: GOES-8 visible cloud frequency composites of the convectively active sea breeze under stratified synoptic flow over the Florida panhandle.  10th Conference on Satellite Meteorology and Oceanography.  14-18 January, Long Beach, CA, Amer. Meteor. Soc.

    DeMaria, M., J.A. Knaff, S.Q. Kidder, M.D. Goldberg, 2000: Tropical cyclone wind retrievals using AMSU-A data from NOAA-15.  10th Conference on Satellite Meteorology and Oceanography.  14-18 January, Long Beach, CA, Amer. Meteor. Soc.

    Grasso, L.D., 2000: The dependence of dryline formation on soil moisture.  Mon Wea. Rev.

    Grasso, L.D., 2000: The differentiation between grid spacing and resolution and their application to numerical modeling.  B. Amer. Meteor. Soc.

    Grasso, L.D., 2000: A numerical simulation of dryline sensitivity to soil moisture. Mon. Wea. Rev.

    Hillger, D.W. and G.P. Ellrod, 2000:  Detection of unusal atmospheric and surface features by employing principal component image transformation of GOES imagery.  10th Conference on Satellite Meteorology and Oceanography.  14-18 January, Long Beach, CA, Amer. Meteor. Soc.

    Molenar, D.A., K.J. Schrab, and J.F.W. Purdom, 2000: RAMSDIS contributions to NOAA satellite data utilization. Amer. Meteor. Soc. Bulletin.

    Motta, B.C., A. Mostek, D.E. Bikos, S. Bachmeier, 2000:  New integrated sensor training for the National Weather Service in the AWIPS era.  10th Conference on Satellite Meteorology and Oceanography.  14-18 January, Long Beach, CA, Amer. Meteor. Soc.

    Weaver, J.F., 2000:  Chapter 23: Windstorms associated with extratropical cyclones in Storms.  Routledge Limited, R. Pielke, Jr., editor. In press

    Weaver, J.F., J.F. Dostalek, B.C. Motta, and J.F.W. Purdom, 2000:  Severe thunderstorms on 31 May 1996: A satellite training case.  National Weather Digest.

    Zajac, B.A. and S.A. Rutledge, 2000:  Characteristics of cloud-to-ground lightning activity over the contiguous United States from 1995-1997.  3rd Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology.  14-18 January, Long Beach, CA, Amer. Meteor. Soc.



    Bernardet, L.R., L.D. Grasso, J.E. Nachamkin, C.A. Finley, and W.R. Cotton, 2000: Simulating convective events using a high-resolution mesoscale model. Journal of Geophysical Review.

    Dostalek, J.F., and T.J. Schmit, 2000: GOES Sounder Derived Product Imagery: Comparisons to Radiosondes and Use in Forecasting Severe Convection. Weather and Forecasting.

    Grasso, L.D., 2000: A brief review of numerically simulated descending and nondescending tornadoes.  Weather and Forecasting.

    Grasso, L.D., 2000: The dissipation of a left moving cell in a severe storm envirnoment. Mon. Wea. Rev.

    Knaff, J.A., R.M. Zehr, M.D. Goldberg, and S.Q. Kidder, 2000:  Temperature structure differences of two similarly appearing cyclone systems derived from the Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit. Weather and Forecasting.

    Landsea, C.W., and J.A. Knaff, 2000:  How much skill was there in forecasting the great 1997-98 El Nino?, Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc.

    Pielke, R.A., T.N. Chase, T.G.F. Kittel, J.A. Knaff, and J. Eastman, 2000: Analysis of 200 mb wind and 1000-200 mb depth-averaged temperature trends for the period 1958-1997. J. Geophysical Research.

    Weaver, J.F., E.R. Hilgendorf, L.D. Grasso, K. Pence, 2000:  Examples of using satellite and Doppler radar data for nowcasting during severe thunderstorm outbreaks: Focus on training. Weather and Forecasting.

    Zajac, B.A. and S. A. Rutledge, 1999:  Characteristics of cloud-to-ground lightning activity in the contiguous United States from 1995-1997.  Mon. Wea. Rev.


  • Systems Administration

    Development of local AWIPS capabilities continues.  RAMMT staff are coordinating with COMET and FSL on this development.

  • Data Infrastructure

    A GOES-East, IR channel 4, data set covering the northern Hemisphere has been saved lasting the entire Atlantic tropical storm season. Several other data sets from this tropical season have also been saved.

  • Hardware/Software

    The latest version of D2D (AWIPS 4.2.4) software has been installed on the RAMM Team real-time ingest system.  Upgrade of all RAMM HP’s to D2D 4.2.4 should be completed by the end of the year.

    Two Gateway systems have been acquired for the Brazil Fire project, and are now being configured.

    Several computers has been configured to test McIDAS software on a Windows NT platform.

    Upgrades were made to several RAMMT systems.  Upgrades included faster processors and larger hard disk drives.

  • Administration

    The FY00 RAMM Team OPTORAs were developed, finalized, and delivered to ORA Headquarters.

    The development of ORA computer staff annual performance rating metrics was completed under the leadership of a RAMM Team staff member.

    Information was collected and organized for a quarterly report of the Team’s activities that were responsive to the current GOES I-M Product Assurance Plan’s (GIMPAP’s) work requirements.

  • Travel
    Team Member
    Molenar, D. Madison, WI McIDAS User’s Group Meeting
    Smith, T. Madison, WI McIDAS User’s Group Meeting
    DeMaria, M. Islip, NY/Washington, DC/ Miami, FL Hurricane Floyd Assessment Meetings
    Zajac, B. Norman, OK OTB/NSSL Visit
    Smith, T. Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras Hurricane Mitch Recovery Project
    DeMaria, M. Washington, DC/Raleigh, NC/ Atlanta, GA USWRP/ Hurricane Floyd Assessment Meetings
    DeMaria, M. St. Louis, MO Hurricane Floyd Assessment Meetings
    November 8-10 
    Zehr, R. New Delhi, India Indo-US Science Meeting
    US-India Fund 
    November 12-22
    Knaff, J. San Jose, Costa Rica RMTC SatMet Training
    Hillger, D. Washington, DC SOCC/POP Meetings
    Bronze Medal Ceremony
    Connell, B. San Jose, Costa Rica RMTC SatMet Training
  • List of Acronyms

    AMS:  American Meteorological Society

    AMSU:  Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit

    AOML:  Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory

    ARAD:  Atmospheric Research and Applications Division

    AVHRR: Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer

    AWIPS: Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System

    CIMSS: Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

    CIRA: Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere

    COMAP: COMET Mesoscale Analysis and Prediction

    COMET: Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education, and Training

    CONUS: Continental U.S.

    CSU:  Colorado State University

    EM:  Emergency Manager

    FEMA:  Federal Emergency Management Agency

    FTP: File Transfer Protocol

    GOES: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

    GRID:  Gridded Data (McIDAS file type)

    HRD:  Hurricane Research Division

    IBAMA:  Instituto Brasilerio do Meio Ambiente e dos Recursos Naturais Renovaveis

    IR: Infrared

    McIDAS: Man Computer Interactive Data Analysis System

    NASA:  National Aeronautics and Space Administration

    NCAR: National Center for Atmospheric Research

    NCEP: National Center for Environmental Prediction

    NESDIS: National Environmental Satellite Data Information Service

    NHC: National Hurricane Center

    NOAA:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    NWS: National Weather Service

    NWSFO: National Weather Service Forecast Office

    OM:  Office of Meteorology

    OPTORA:  Operating Plans and Tasks for the Office of Research and Applications

    ORA:  Office of Research and Applications

    PACJET: Pacific Landfalling Jets Experiment

    PCGRIDDS: Personal Computer Based Gridded Interactive Display and Diagnostic System

    PCI:  Principal Component Imagery

    POES: Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite

    POP: Product Oversight Panel

    RAMMT: Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Team

    RAMS:  Regional Atmospheric Modeling System

    RAMSDIS: Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology Team Advanced Meteorological Satellite Demonstration and Interpretation System

    RMTC: Regional Meteorological Training Center

    ROLEX: RAMSDIS Online Experimental

    SAB: Satellite Applications Branch

    SCAN:  System for Convective Analysis and Nowcasting

    SOCC: Satellite Operations Control Center

    SOO: Science Operations Officer

    SRSO/RSO: Super Rapid Scan Operation/Rapid Scan Operation

    SSEC: Space Science and Engineering Center (University of Wisconsin)

    STEPS:  Severe Thunderstorm Electrification and Precipitation Study 2000

    USWRP: United States Weather Research Program

    UTC:  Universal Time Coordinated

    VISIT: Virtual Institute for Satellite Integration Training

    WCM: Warning Coordination Meteorologist

    WMO: World Meteorological Organization

    WV:  Water Vapor

    Y2K: Year 2000