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RAMMB Scientific Quarterly Report - 2nd Quarter FY 99


  • Severe Storms
    • The GOES-10 assessment study that focuses its research on the GOES-10 science data from the spring of 1998 continues.  The first data set being analyzed is from 08 April 1998 in which an F5 tornado hit the western suburbs of Birmingham, Alabama.  Several significant differences between the central Plains “classic” tornado environment and the 08 April case have been identified.  Radar data from Birmingham and Fort Rucker are being combined with 5-min interval satellite imagery to try to find ways to overcome the very serious problem of low-level broken to overcast sky coverage masking important low-level convergence boundaries.

    Click images to enlarge

    (LEFT: WSR-88D reflectivity image from Birmingham, Alabama at 2330 UTC on 08Apr98, 30 minutes prior to the tornado that produced an F5 near Birmingham.  RIGHT:  GOES-10 visible image from 2330 UTC on 08Apr98 corresponding to the radar shown above.  A thin cloud line may be seen on the radar image just north of an east-west line of deep convection in central Alabama.  Over the next half hour, this line moves north and intersects the convective line that is entering western Alabama at 2330 UTC.   Shortly thereafter a mesocyclone and hook-echo develop.  There is no sign of this line on any of the GOES-10 imaging channels.)

    • Numerical simulations are being run to compare the mesoscale environments of the southeast US and the Central Plains.  The simulations are intended to help determine which mesoscale features are important for tornado outbreaks in the Southeast versus Central Plains events.
    • Research on the 31 May 1996 Kansas and Colorado severe weather outbreak is complete.  An article on the case has been submitted to the National Weather Digest (see publications).  A version of  the 31 May 96  training module (called “Detecting low-level thunderstorm Outflow boundaries using GOES at night”) can be viewed at . The material is also available on an interactive web-based training application.
    • A multi-author article  on the Fort Collins flood of 28 July 1997 appears in the February issue of the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (see publications).  The paper is a joint effort by CIRA, the CSU Department of Atmospheric Science, and the Colorado Climate Center.
    • GOES-8 SRSO imagery and WSR-88D data from 17 May 1996 have been synthesized and show that the development of a long-lived left moving storm was triggered by an expanding low-level thunderstorm outflow boundary interacting with a pre-existing convergence line.  Historical numerical modeling studies suggest that left moving updrafts develop from the “classic” storm splitting process. This study shows that, at times, left movers might develop by another process. A “note” to Weather and Forecasting is being prepared.
  • Tropical Cyclones
    • The development of an objective technique to determine the intensity of early-stage tropical cyclones has begun.  GOES images along with Best Track intensity estimates are being used to create a database from which a statistical relationship between maximum wind speed and satellite based cloud asymmetries may be obtained.
    • The algorithm developed and used by the RAMM Team in 1993-1994 to predict the intensity of a tropical cyclone 24 hours in advance has being recast for the Windows environment.  The algorithm will be fine-tuned and evaluated during the coming Atlantic and Pacific tropical cyclone seasons.  Eventually, it is hoped that additional algorithms will be incorporated into the module to allow skillful intensity forecasts to be made out to 48 and 72 hours.
    • Research continues on the investigation of environmental vertical wind shear influences on hurricane intensity change.   The evaluation continues with 1998 hurricanes, and with Hurricanes Opal, Bertha, and Erika. New computations were made of vertical shear using the NCEP ReAnalysis data, the CIMSS high density winds, and GOES 6-hr center relative average imagery.
      • Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit (AMSU) data along with comparative data have been  analyzed in a joint project with Stan Kidder (CIRA) and Mitch Goldberg (NESDIS ORA).  AMSU passes with Hurricanes Bonnie, Georges, and Mitch, along with Supertyphoon Zeb have been collected along with GOES imagery and coinciding intensity and surface wind information.  A radial profile of the AMSU temperature anomaly with Hurricane Bonnie was used to derive a profile of tangential wind using an algorithm developed by DeMaria. The analysis was in close agreement with the aircraft measured

    radial profile.

    Click on image to enlarge

    Tangential wind at 700mb from aircraft reconnaissance and AMSU retrievals.  The average wind difference is 5 m/s from 0 to 200 km.

      • Additional cases were analyzed that illustrate the utility of AMSU in diagnosing the thermal structure of tropical weather systems. A weakening tropical cyclone and subtropical low in the South Pacific were viewed on the same day by GOES and the AMSU retrieval data sets (made available by Mitch Goldberg, NESDIS ORA).  Products generated from tropospheric AMSU retrieved temperatures by GRADS software revealed the warm core versus cold core structures.

    AMSU temperature retrievals at 350 hPa

    Click on image to enlarge

    • Work continued on a project to get all available tropical cyclone geostationary (excluding SRSO) IR imagery into a common format on CD-ROM to improve data processing for satellite tropical cyclone applications testing and technique development studies.  It is projected that by July, 1999, the archive will contain approximately 15,000 images with 80 tropical cyclones, (22 in the Atlantic region, from 1995-1998).
    • As part of the observational tropical cyclone data archive, raw Air Force hurricane reconnaissance data for the period 1995-1998 have been gathered.  These data have been placed into a common format and are available at
    • Research continues with the use of SRSO (1-min) data sets.  The emphasis is on analysis of the upper level inner core evolution of winds and convection. Kelly Carpenter (CSU graduate student) has completed detailed upper level wind analyses of Hurricane Marilyn (1995), with three consecutive days of analysis.
      • A project is underway to document 3 to 6 hour oscillations of deep convection associated with the inner core region of tropical cyclones.  This is a new discovery that is in addition to the more commonly known diurnal cycles of deep convection that occur in tropical cyclones and deep oceanic convection.  A draft paper has been written and internally reviewed.  Work is continuing to improve this documentation with hopes of submitting results for publication next quarter.




    Click on image to enlarge




    Time series spectrum analysis of percentage area within 2 degrees latitude of the center of Hurricane Bertha (1996) that is colder than -70 C, over the lifetime of the storm.  Note very low frequency oscillations (~ 1 day) were removed before the analysis was conducted.

    • Work continues on tropical cyclone convective asymmetries in mature tropical cyclones due to translation and vertical wind shear.  Understanding these asymmetries will lead to better interpretation of environmental wind conditions from IR satellite imagery alone.

Application Development

  • GOES Product Improvement and Development
    • An upgrade to current GOES software being used by the Satellite Operations Control Center (SOCC) and by the ARAD RAMSDIS was made to fix 1) a long-existing problem causing the SOCC RAMSDIS to crash on occasion, and 2) a non-functioning option in one of the programs delivered last year to the ARAD RAMSDIS.  Both problems were fixed remotely from CIRA and new software was sent via FTP.
    • The RAMM Team suggested that the GINI (GOES Ingest NOAA-port Interface) water vapor (WV) channel as used on the AWIPS return to the standard bi-linear Look Up Table (LUT) traditionally used by McIDAS and RAMSDIS.  The main problem with the present GINI LUT is that temperatures are truncated if they extend outside of the range from -10 to -60 deg C.  We strongly oppose the fact that those measurements are not available to AWIPS users for any present or future image product development.  Also, the AWIPS product generator, which works on 8-bit counts, cannot generate meaningful image products using the WV channel because the count to temperature conversion is not identical for all the GOES IR channels (the WV channel being the exception).  Supporting evidence for this decision is available on the Web at the following two addresses.  The first one explains the GINI LUT issue,; the second gives the reasons for our decision to support a full return to the bi-linear LUT used by McIDAS/RAMSDIS and by AWIPS for the other GOES IR channels
    • Programs for producing albedo images were modified to work on McIDAS-X and were then made available to the NWS Western Region offices for further testing.  The programs generate albedo images from the GOES visible channel or combinations of GOES channels.  The albedo images are corrected for solar zenith angle variations to enhance portions of the image that are normally very dark.  The day/night albedo combines the visible channel during the day with the shortwave albedo calculated from GOES IR channels 2 and 4 at night.
    • Software for smoothing McIDAS-format satellite area files has been made available to Kevin Schrab at NWS Western Region Headquarters.  The program is used to slightly smooth and produce a more pleasing display of GOES Sounder water vapor channel-12 (6.5 µm) being ingested into AWIPS.  This Sounder channel typically has a low signal-to-noise ratio and appears quite noisy without smoothing.  Smoothing is used for this channel on the Sounder RAMSDIS at the CIRA.
    • Software for clustering GOES fields-of-view has been modified to work on McIDAS-X and forwarded to CIMSS for testing.  The conversion to McIDAS-X was accomplished by modifying existing software to work on both McIDAS and McIDAS-X without having special software that only works on either system alone.
    • Several new products generated from GOES Imager and Sounder channels have been added to RAMSDIS Online, including loops of experimental albedo and skin temperature products from the GOES Imagers, and some experimental combined-channel products from the GOES Sounder (GOES-east only).  Advanced   Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) data will be added in the near future.  The web site includes information on how the various products are generated.  Site is at
  • POES Data and Products
    • Initial Analysis of NOAA-15 channel-3A:  A camera-ready manuscript has been prepared and sent to the American Meteorological Society for the 10th Atmospheric Radiation Conference to be held in late June/early July.  The paper title is “Using the new 1.6 um channel on NOAA-15 in satellite product development.”  Initial findings show the usefulness of the new channel-3A, in conjunction with the other NOAA-15 AVHRR channels, for easier detection of snow and ice covered terrain compared to the normal set of multi-spectral channels from NOAA AVHRR.  Channel-3A is only scheduled for transmission from March 9 through April 20.

    Click on image to enlarge

    This figure is an image product generated using all 5 bands of AHVRR, but with emphasis on channel-3A.  Note how snow/ice covered ground (white areas) are discriminated from clouds (darker shades), showing the usefulness of this channel for snow/ice mapping.

  • Soundings
    • Programs on McIDAS/McIDAS-X systems were modified to read GOES Sounder data ingested on new PC systems. Previously sounder data had been ingested on a VAX computer, soon to be decommissioned.  The RAMSDIS sounder software for use with Y2K compliant naming convention for satellite data files has been updated and implemented by the ground station at CIRA.
  • Climatology
    • Collection of PCGRIDDS – ETA 12 UTC model data continues daily.  The gridded data are being used to generate a mean boundary layer (~1000-700 mb) wind speed and a resultant boundary layer wind direction to designate a wind regime for specific AWIPS sites for use in the  monthly satellite CONUS climatologies.  Wind regimes have been determined for November, December, and January 1999.
    • Processing of the US climatologies continued on schedule. These included large sector composites for December 1998, January and February, 1999 and wind regime composites for November and December 1998 and January, 1999.  Since the wind regime climatologies are starting their second year, the development and testing of programs to combine climatology products from different years were completed. Using these programs, combined products of December 1997 and 1998 for GOES channels 1 and 4 were processed. In addition, the climatology  programs have been made Y2K compliant.
    • Full disk water vapor imagery (3 hour interval) from GOES-8 has been processed to determine averages, maximum and minimum values through February 1999.  The imagery from August-November 1997 and June through November 1998 are being examined more closely over the Atlantic basin in conjunction with a study on hurricane formation regions.
      • In routine checking of December and January archived full disk water vapor imagery, unusually warm pixels, between -5 C and 2.5 C were discovered.  These were observed on numerous days  when there were dry air masses over the region.   There is a diurnal cycle to the imagery with the warmest pixels occurring around local noon.  The warm pixels are thought to be due to surface reflection because of  their placement in relation to high peaks located in the Andes bordering between Chile, Bolivia and Argentina in South America.  Attached is a GIF image showing an example from one of the many days when warm pixels were observed.  Within the white box (43X35 pixels at a resolution of 8 km X 4 km), the maximum temperature was 2.4 C, the minimum was -24.8 C and the average was -9.0 C.   One of the look up tables used by AWIPS for water vapor images truncates for temperature values warmer than -10 C.  Using that look up table, information would have been lost for this image.

  • Precipitation
    • Satellite and radar data are being overlayed using Java Script software.  The software, developed by Tom Whittaker of SSEC-UW, allows the user to loop the images in time while fading the radar images on and off the satellite images.  Availability of GOES-10, 5-minute imagery allows for close matching of radar and satellite data.  The precipitation group has started writing a journal article that will discuss the preliminary results of this study.
  • Mesoscale Modeling
    • The RAMS mesoscale model has been used to simulate the decay of a left moving supercell. The results show that the decay was due to the ingestion of negatively buoyant downdraft air. This decay process is different than that described by Rotunno and Klemp (1982). The first draft of a manuscript for publication in the Journal of Atmospheric Science is ready to be submitted.
    • The RAMS model was used to show that dryline formation may at times be influenced by soil moisture values.  A simulation was conducted to show that the development of deep convection on the dryline can depend entirely on the values of soil moisture.
  • Winds and Cloud Heights
    • Several case studies with hand selected clouds have shown accurate cloud height estimates using multiple satellite views.   By calculating the cloud motion vector and the height simultaneously, precise time matching is not needed in the stereo analysis.
    • Improvements have been made in automating the analysis and comparing with the standard NESDIS wind analysis.  Fixes were made to the McIDAS standard navigation routines which speeded up the process by a factor of 10.  Also, since larger search object sizes are more easily tracked, the standard search object is now an array of pixels about 30 by 30 km.
      • In order to make direct comparisons to the NESDIS results, cloud locations from the NESDIS output files are used as initial locations for the object matching searches.  This speeds up the automatic cloud tracking, by eliminating the initial object search.  Also, provides a natural way to link our analysis to the NESDIS analysis.



    Figure 1: RAMM automatic analysis of visible GOES imagery at (19:30, 9:45 and 20:00 UTC, 25 Feb 1999).  Both GOES 8 and GOES 10 data are used.  Heights were derived from geometric information only, independent of the IR temperature of the clouds. Click on image to enlarge
    Figure 2: As in Figure 1 but initialized with the NESDIS cloud locations.   These clouds were selected in the IR imagery, so no near surface objects were tracked.  The upper number is the wind speed in m/sec and the lower number is the height in hectometers. Click on image to enlarge
    Figure 3 corresponding NESDIS IR cloud heights and Asynchronous Stereo Estimates.  Click on image to enlarge

Outside Interaction

  • National Labs
    • Interaction continues with Hurricane Research Division (HRD) at AOML on use of Tropical RAMSDIS and collaborative research projects.
  • Universities
    • D. Molenar met with John Kleist of the CSU Atmospheric Science Dept. to discuss CIRA’s assumption of UNIDATA server support.  The UNIDATA feed supplies data formerly available on AFOS.  CIRA will assume responsibility for the server maintenance and support in early April.
    • Continued cooperative work with Dr. Gray’s project includes participation in project meetings, data management consultations,  real-time tropical weather discussions, and class lectures.
  • Other NESDIS
    • D. Molenar provided input to the ARAD portion of the ORA proposal for AWIPS resource requirements and development efforts.
  • WMO
    • A continuation proposal was submitted to National Weather Service Office of International Affairs to expand the RMTC activities to include distribution of high resolution satellite imagery and satellite products to Region III and IV countries through the RAMSDIS and RAMSDIS online programs.
  • NWS
    • K. Schrab, of NWS Western Region Headquarters, gave a demonstration on his work to provide experimental satellite products to the NWS Western Region Forecast Offices via the AWIPS Local Data Acquisition and Dissemination (LDAD) framework.  Dr. Schrab provided access to the Western Region experimental products on the CIRA AWIPS system.  Discussions were also held regarding the need to make the CIRA Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit composites and GOES sounder experimental products available in a similar manner.
    • D. Molenar, B. Motta and D. Bikos participated iin the ongoing efforts of the NESDIS AWIPS Satellite Team. The team has finalized a list of satellite applications that will be submitted for inclusion in AWIPS Build 5. Final input from all members detailing the utility of these applications to the NWS Forecast Offices was submitted and published on a web page, The applications have been prioritized by the NWS regions and National Centers, and test implementation of the top priority products is underway..
    • J. Weaver is working with Ron Gird at NWS Headquarters to facilitate the review and introduction of E-911 dispatch instructional cards that Weaver designed following the Fort Collins flash flood of 28 July 1997.  The cards have input from emergency managers and NWS offices in several cities around the U.S.
    • J. Weaver attended a joint National Weather Service/ Texas Tech University-sponsored conference in Lubbock, Texas from 8-11 February focusing on severe weather on the central and high plains of the United States.  There were 132 attendees.  The National Severe Storms Laboratory and the Operational Support Facility in Norman were heavily represented, as was Texas Tech University, but a full two-thirds of the attendees were Weather Service forecasters.  Weaver was the only NESDIS speaker out of 44 talks.
      • J. Weaver traveled to the NWS forecast office in Pueblo, Colorado to present a talk on high Plains severe weather to a group of southern Colorado weather service forecasters.  The presentation was part of a two-day workshop being held in conjunction with severe weather awareness month.



    • R. Zehr and M. DeMaria are coordinating with the Tropical Prediction Center to correct problems with their satellite ingest system which occurs during SRSO.  It is planned to have the problem corrected before the start of the 1999 Hurricane Season.
    • Carol Vaughn interacted with the North Platte, Nebraska National Weather Service office, by providing GOES visible and fire product imagery covering a 78,000 acre grass fire that occurred in North Central Nebraska on March 16, 1999.  The fire was examined using both GOES-8 and GOES-10 imagery.
  • Miscellaneous
    • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado invited the RAMM team to give a presentation on “Access to GOES Satellite Data.”  The talk-covered aspects of GOES data collection/distribution, archives, and science projects which are using data sets which can benefit this community.  This fairly new area for using GOES data is related to RAMMT research involving satellite climatologies and is important for both the governmental and commercial/potential users of solar energy power. NOAA archives of GOES data and NESDIS solar radiation products were highlighted. Of particular interest was the effort to “rescue” the previous generation GOES data from the aging archive, an archive which is time-sensitive and could be lost if not migrated to higher quality media. The presentation was well received and the users are interested in supporting efforts to maintain the GOES archive.  Nine countries were represented with multiple participants from Canada and Germany. Similar talks were  given for Geostationary Meteorological Satellite, Meteosat, and NASA/Earth Observing System data platforms.


    • M. DeMaria, R. Zehr, J. Knaff, and B. Motta attended the AMS Annual Meeting in Dallas, TX, January 10-15.
    • M. DeMaria and D. Hillger attended the Tenth International TOVS Study Conference, January 27, Boulder, Colorado.
    • R. Zehr and M. DeMaria attended the 53rd Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference in Biloxi, MS, February 9-12.
    • M. DeMaria and R. Zehr attended the USWRP Science Symposium in Boulder, CO, March 29-31.


    • Mitch Goldberg from NESDIS/ORA visited CIRA on February 1. An outline of a publication describing tropical cyclone applications of the Advanced Microwave Sounder Unit (AMSU) data was discussed.
    • M. DeMaria met with Andy Edman from the Scientific Services Division (SSD) of National Weather Service Western Region Headquarters in early January. Discussion topics included the future plans for RAMSDIS in the NWS Western Region and the collaboration with RAMMT on developing methods for getting locally ingested satellite imagery into AWIPS. B. Connell gave Andy a brief overview of satellite data climatologies, D. Hillger described a new albedo product, and D. Bikos gave a short demonstration of the VISITview software.
    • Mr. Zhao Licheng continues his tenure as a visiting scientist from the People’s Republic of China.  While at CIRA, he will work on joint activities in meteorological workstation and analysis software development.  Mr. Zhao is the Director of the Computer Division at the National Satellite Meteorological Center in Beijing, China, and will stay at CIRA for one year.


  • HRD and CAMEX 3
    • A CD ROM archive is over 90% complete which includes GOES rapid scan images archived at CIRA in McIDAS format from the 1998 Hurricane Season. Sectorized 1-byte full resolution visible image files and some remapped images are being archived to CD-ROM.  The 1998 data set includes Hurricanes Bonnie, Danielle, Earl, and Georges, with three Super Rapid Scan Operations (SRSO, 22 images/h, 1-min interval) and 10 Rapid Scan Operations (RSO, 8 images/h, 5-min interval days. This work was coordinated with the Hurricane Research Division and CAMEX for support of those field experiments.  Full resolution 15- and 30-minute interval imagery are included in the archive for some of the days of interest when rapid scan imagery was not available.  For example, rapid scan was requested for Hurricane Mitch prior to the GOES-8 outage in late October.  The archive contains a full volume visible set of 13 CDs, and reduced volume visible and IR sets of 2 CDs each. Six copies of the reduced volume set are to be available in early April for distribution.  Further information can be found at
  • RAMM/CSU Northeast Colorado Severe Weather Experiment
    • Planning is underway for a joint experiment with CSU’s radar group for the study of northeastern Colorado springtime convection.  RAMM participants include B. Zajac,  J. Weaver, J. Dostalek, D. Bikos, B. Motta, and E. Hilgendorf.  Doppler radar data will be collected by the CSU CHILL radar at Greeley, the CSU Pawnee Radar near Carr, and will be supplemented with Cheyenne, Wyoming and Denver, Colorado NWS WSR-88D level-II data.
  • Lubbock Dryline Experiment
    • An experiment designed to obtain SRSO or RSO satellite imagery, WSR-88D data, synoptic gridded output and mesonet data for at least two dryline-initiated tornadic storm events is set to begin in April.  The experiment also calls for data to be collected on one case where tornadic storms are expected, but do not occur.  This experiment was also attempted in 1998, but no significant dry lines occurred.


  • Web Pages
      • A web site describing a CD-ROM archive of the rapid scan and super rapid scan cases from the 1998 hurricane season was added ( This site was used as reference material for a short presentation by M. DeMaria at the 3rd Convection and Moisture Experiment (CAMEX3)/Hurricane Field Program Workshop in Dallas on Sunday, January 10, 1998.



    • An overview of the Fort Collins flash flood of 28 July 1997 by J. Weaver can be found on the CIRA home page by going to the web site, then choosing “Flash Flood Lab” from the categories on the left.
  • Virtual Lab
    • A new virtual laboratory case consisting of 226 IR images (channel 4, 10.7:m) from GOES-8 is now available on the web.  This imagery provides continuous coverage of Hurricane Bonnie over a 2 1/2 day period as the storm approached the North Carolina coast on August 25-27, 1998.  The time interval between these images is a mix of routine 15-min interval scans and 5-min. rapid scan operations.  A 15-frame loop of the storm is also available for direct viewing via this web page:  The virtual laboratory’s inventory now contains 8 unique satellite datasets covering a variety of significant weather events.
  • 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.  To review  recent discussions, you can visit
  • Tutorials
    • The new version of the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA)-Regional and Mesoscale Meteorology (RAMM) Team’s web-based tutorial on the GOES Imager called “An Introduction to GOES-8” can be found at:
      • The RAMSDIS-OS2 7.5 upgrade is now in progress.  This upgrade includes the last version of McIDAS-OS2, OS/2 Warp 4.0, and will be Y2K compliant.  The test system will be available in May, 1999.  A training session will be held in conjunction with this test system to inform the staff of the significant changes and other issues concerning this upgrade.



      • Tropical RAMSDIS use has continued during the “off season” months for product development, AMSU image analysis, and Southern Hemisphere tropical cyclone real-time analysis and data collection.



      • HRD RAMSDIS is being replaced with a faster machine and upgraded with some additional products and capabilities. Their RAMSDIS reliability has been poor due to hardware problems.



    • T. Smith continues to support NWS sites by providing RAMSDIS troubleshooting assistance. He also continues to keep the RAMM Tape Archive Database up-to-date.
  • RAMSDIS Online
    • An updated version of RAMSDIS Online written in Java is nearly completed.  This version will give the user more control of the loops and images.  New features will include; ability to specify number of images to download and loop and zoom in on loop.  Also an application version will be available so users can download the code and images to their system and be able to see the data without the need for a browser and an Internet connection.
    • A new RAMSDIS Online experimental (ROLEX) product web page was created showing several products generated from the GOES Imager and Sounder.  The new web page includes albedo and skin temperature products from the GOES Imager and some combined channels from the GOES Sounder.  Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) data will be added in the near future.
    • A new sector has been added to RAMSDIS Online Brazil Fires web page in support of the Brazil fire detection and monitoring program.  A GOES imager experimental fire product is being used to detect these fires.
    • New RAMSDIS Online coverage over Costa Rica, Central America and the Caribbean, and South America:   Loops of visible, 3.9 um, 6.7 um, and 10.7 um imagery over Costa Rica, Central America and the Caribbean, and South America can be found at: .  This effort results from interaction between the Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere and the Regional Meteorological Training Center in Costa Rica.



      • D. Bikos developed a template using Active Server Pages (ASP) and Javascript to use in future training sessions. This template will be much more efficient than the one used in the GOES enhancements session. He will assist B. Motta and B. Zajac in implementation of this template for the web-page-based version of the training sessions under development.



      • The first AWIPS-environment training session to be offered by Virtual Institute for Satellite Integration Training (VISIT) has been revised in WWW and VISITview formats. The changes include a new process for extracting image loops from WFO-Advanced.  While the process is somewhat lengthy,  it is less intensive and subject to error than our previous attempts and results in high-quality output suitable for training. Image loops have been added to all of the examples.



      • The number of available VISIT teletraining sessions has now increased to three. Since these offerings have proven to be so popular, a on-line calendar has been created to facilitate the registration process for NWS’ prospective participants in future sessions. to assist in organizing the training sessions.



      • The first training session for the Integrated Sensor Training PDS Unit 2, Using Lightning Observations, is being developed and is based on the manuscript submitted to Monthly Weather Review by B. Zajac entitled, “Characteristics of Cloud-to-Ground Lightning Activity in the Contiguous United States from 1995-1997.”  The session will discuss spatial, annual, and diurnal variations in cloud-to-ground (CG) lightning activity.  It will also describe the National Lightning Detection Network, and relationships between CG lightning activity and climatology, topography, coastlines, and storm type.


      • D. Bikos attended the SatMet course in March at COMET in Boulder, as well as a Doppler radar certification course in Des Moines.



      • A number of RAMM/CIRA Team members presented lectures and workshops over a two-week period in March as part of the Satellite Meteorology class at COMET in Boulder, Colorado.



    • Several loops of satellite data were created within PowerPoint and were linked together in a single PowerPoint presentation for use by M. DeMaria with his tropical cyclone lecture at the COMET-sponsored Satellite Meteorology course in Boulder during the second week of March.
  • Community Outreach
      • J. Weaver is working with the Poudre School District to try to design curriculum-based science units on natural disasters such as tornadoes, floods, blizzards, etc.  The plan is to fit severe weather awareness materials and training into pre-existing teaching modules.  Grades 7 and 10 are the current focus, with Grade 1 to follow.



      • 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.



    • At the request of a representative of McGraw Hill, which is preparing a textbook entitled Science Voyages Book 2, R. Phillips, R. Zehr, and J. Knaff provided several GOES images taken over Hurricanes Fran and Bertha for possible inclusion in the publication.
      • The collection and archival of hourly visible, 3.9 um, 6.7 um  and 10.7 um imagery for climatologies in Costa Rica continues.  The night transfer of the imagery via the Internet continues to supplement the poor data ingest during the day due to heavy Internet traffic.  This data is also being used by Costa Rica for a local RAMSDIS on line:   The site is now running again after being interrupted by a hacker in December.




    Hourly climatology imagery (Visible, 3.9, 6.7 and 10.7 micrometer) for December  1998 through February 1999 have been sent to Costa Rica.   We are into the second year of data collection and this has afforded the opportunity to compare imagery from both years.

    B. Connell visited the RMTC at the University of Costa Rica and the National Meteorological Institute (NMI) in Costa Rica March 8-12.  The direction of ongoing and future research activities were discussed with Dr. Jorge Amador (UCR), Master’s student Ileana Mora (UCR), Rosario Alfaro (NMI), Dr. Walter Fernandez (UCR), and Dr. Vilma Castro (UCR).  The activities focused on using archived satellite climatology imagery to determine cloud frequency associated with rainfall patterns in various parts of Costa Rica and Central America during various times of the year.  Rosario and Walter expressed strong interest in obtaining and applying the satellite-based autoestimator routines for rainfall estimates developed by Dr. Gilberto Vicente and Dr. Rod Scofield.

    Click on image to enlarge

    This image shows the 1 km visible cloud frequency at 2:00 hour intervals from 1400 UTC to 2000 UTC over Costa Rica for January 1999.  The central regions of Costa Rica are very mountainous, with the highest mountains in the southern half of the country.  Cloud development patterns are related to the mountains, their elevations, and the level of cloud condensation.

    • A meeting with Eladio Zarate, director of NMI, Werner Stolz, director of Synoptic Department at NMI, and Rodolfo Villabobos (their computer expert) was held to discuss plans for bringing RAMSDIS online and RAMSDIS/McIDAS into the Met Service office and distributing imagery to other WMO Region III and IV countries.  Some of the people that work at the office have been exposed to McIDAS and know it is has greater capabilities than the current software they are using.  Their internet speed is only 64Kbs.
    • Preparations for the 2-week training to be held in December 1999 were started.  A list of needed resources was drafted and the agenda used at the Barbados training was reviewed and modified for use in Costa Rica.  Tentative responsibilities for lectures at CIRA and in Costa Rica have been assigned.
    • Compilation of climatology data over the Barbados area continues.  The RMTC now has 1 year of continuous Visible and IR imagery which they can use to create climatology imagery, or study particular cases for use in Meteorology classes taught at the University of the West Indies.  A 3.9  m sector has been added so that the albedo products, developed by RAMMT, can be applied to the imagery for improved viewing of low level clouds over the ocean. Also, samples of a product developed by RAMMT, which uses the 3.9 albedo product as a background and combines it with the enhanced longwave IR where the cold cloud tops are located, have been sent for July and January.
  • Training



        • D. Hillger described new GOES experimental products on RAMSDIS to several RAMM Team visitors.




      • An outline of a one-hour training seminar on tropical cyclone applications, was completed after consultation with NESDIS ARAD and SAB personnel.  A virtual training session of this material is planned in April, using the VISIT framework. R. Zehr, R. Phillips, M. DeMaria, J. Dostalek, and B. Motta are contributing to this effort.



      • J. Weaver attended two one-and-a-half hour training sessions on use of the Emergency Manager’s Weather Information Network (EMWIN).
      • D. Hillger attended two Fred Pryor seminars:  “How to Make Presentations with Confidence and Power,” (January 14) and “How to Become a Great Communicator” (February 16).
  • Publications


    DeMaria, M., D. Hillger, R. Zehr, and B. Connell, 1999:  Incorporation of GOES data into an Atlantic tropical cyclone formation parameter. 53rd Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference, February 8-12, Biloxi, MS.

    DeMaria, M., F.M. Horsfall, and E.N. Rappaport, 1999: Incorporation of aircraft observations into a statistical hurricane intensity prediction scheme.  23rd AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology.  January 11-15, Dallas, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc.

    Knaff, J.A., 1999: Tropical cyclone structure change as revealed by one-minute satellite imagery. 23rd
    AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology. January 11-15, Dallas, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 186-189.

    Knaff, J.A. and R.M. Zehr, 1999: Convective asymmetries in mature tropical cyclones associated with
    motion and vertical wind shear. 23rd AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology.  January 11-15, Dallas, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 464-467.

    Motta, B.C. and A. Mostek, 1999: A comparison of current national weather service interactive distance learning technology.   Reprints, 15th International Conference on IIPS for Meteorology, Oceanography, and Hydrology, 10-15 January, Dallas, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 396-397.

    Petersen, W.A., L.D. Carey, S.A. Rutledge, J.C. Knievel, N.J. Doesken, R.H. Johnson, T.B. McKee, T.H. Vonder Haar, and J.F. Weaver, 1999: Mesoscale and radar observations of the Fort Collins flash flood of 28 July 1997.  Bull. Amer. Meteor. Soc., 80:2, 191-216.

    Watson, D.L. and D.W. Hillger, 1999: RAMSDIS On-Line: A Web-based tool for the satellite data user. CIRA’99 (CIRA Newsletter), 11, Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere, Fort Collins CO, 4-5.

    Zehr, R., 1999: Improving the quantitative assessment of vertical wind shear on tropical cyclone intensity
    change, 23rd AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology.  January 11-15, Dallas, TX, Amer. Meteor. Soc.

    Zehr, R.M., M. DeMaria, F. Horsfall, and J. Knaff, 1999: Observational tropical cyclone data archive and research. 53rd Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference, February 8-12, Biloxi, MS.



    Campbell, G.G., 1999: Practical satellite cloud heights from shadows.  Mon. Wea. Rev.

    Campbell, G.G. and J.F.W. Purdom, 1999:  Asynchronous stereo height and motion retrieval from satellite observations. J. of Atmos. and Oceanic Technology.

    DeMaria, M. and J. Kaplan, 1999: An updated statistical hurricane intensity prediction scheme (SHIPS) for the Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific Basins. Weather and Forecasting.

    Hillger, D.W., 1999:  Using the new 1.6 µm channel on NOAA-15 in satellite product development.  10th Conference on Atmospheric Radiation, June 28-July 2, Madison, WI, Amer. Meteor. Soc., 4pp.

    Landsea, C.W., R.A. Pielke, Jr., A.M. Mestas-Nunez, and J.A. Knaff, 1999:  Atlantic basin hurricanes: Indices of climatic change. Climate Change.



    Chase, T.N., R.A. Pielke, J.A. Knaff, T.G.G. Kittel, J.L. Eastman, 1999: A comparison of Regional Trends in 1979-1997 depth-averaged tropospheric temperatures.  Int. J. Climatol.

    Grasso, L.D., 1999: The differentiation between grid spacing and resolution and their application to numerical modeling.  Mon. Wea. Rev.

    Knaff, J. A. and J. F. Weaver, 1999: A mesoscale low-level thunderstorm outflow boundary associated with Hurricane Luis. Mon. Wea. Rev.

    Landsea, C. W.  and J. A. Knaff, 1999: How much “skill” did the various forecasting methods available have for the 1997 – 98 El Nino event? 2nd Hayes Symposium on Seasonal and Interannual Climate Change, January 10–5, Dallas, TX

    Pielke, R.A., T.N. Chase, T.G.F. Kittel, J.A. Knaff, and J. Eastman, 1999: Analysis of 200 mb wind and 1000-200 mb depth-averaged temperature trends for the period 1958-1997. J. Geophysical Research.

    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.


  • Seminars/Presentations
    • M. DeMaria gave an invited presentation at the USWRP Science Symposium, March 29-31, on long-term changes in operational hurricane warnings.
    • M. DeMaria presented a talk entitled “Incorporation of Satellite Data into an Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Genesis Parameter” at Dr. William Gray’s weekly project meeting the week of March 5.
    • D. Hillger gave a presentation on current RAMM Team activities to the Integrated Sensor Training Professional Development Series meeting in Madison, Wisconsin on February 10.
    • J. Knaff spoke on convective asymmetries in mature tropical cyclones due to motion and vertical wind shear to a group of CSU and CIRA researchers the week of February 5.
    • J. Knaff gave a presentation on “Tropical cyclone structure change as revealed by one-minute satellite imagery” and a  poster session on “Convective Asymmetries in mature tropical cyclones associated with motion and vertical wind shear” at the 23rd AMS Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology on  January 12 in Dallas, TX.  He also gave a talk on “How much “skill” did the various forecasting methods available have for the 1997 – 98 El Nino event?” on January 14.


  • Systems Administration
    • All HP workstations have been upgraded with the latest Y2K software patches.
    • The NCAR graphics package has been installed on Ulysses.
    • Two 18 GB SCSI disks were added to the HP-UNIX workstations, one to support the VISIT project and the other for the precipitation project.
  • Data Infrastructure
    • Several data sets were added to the RAMMT archive this quarter.  Among them were 7 SRSO data sets, and 6 RSO data sets.  These data sets mainly consist of severe storms including tropical coverage.
    • Two tornado cases were added to the RAMMT archive (tape and CD-ROM).
  • Administration
    • The annual CIRA/RAMM infrastructure staff reviews have been completed.
    • A progress report of activities and accomplishments of the Team that were associated with the work statement in NOAA’s GOES I-M Product Assurance Plan (GIMPAP) proposal were documented for inclusion in the next quarterly report. The quarterly report has been forwarded to P. Menzel who is the technical coordinator for GIMPAP (week of March 26).
    • M. DeMaria attended the Office of Research and Applications Team Leaders Meeting, March 17-19.
    • The Office of  Naval Research may provide funding for a study of hurricane structure change using the RAMMT IR imagery archive and numerical modeling studies.  M. DeMaria has begun a dialogue with the Marine Meteorology Division of ONR to investigate this possibility.
    • B. Byrne and S. Smith from the Mountain Administrative Support Center (MASC) visited NESDIS/CIRA on Thursday, February 25. A brief meeting was held with all of the NOAA employees. Afterwards, a training session on the Demonstration Project and associated rating system was provided to M. DeMaria and K. Fryer.
    • The Department of Commerce request (week of February 5) for any and all information relating to Secretary Brown’s overseas trips in the 1993 to 1995 time frame was met. Each RAMM Team member filled out a search checklist regarding the information requested.  No relevant documents were uncovered.
    • PowerPoint  slides  were developed for presentation at the February NOAA Management Program Review.  These slide presentations were intended to highlight the RAMM Team’s current and near-term work activities.
  • Hardware/Software
    • Purchased two SCSI external 8 mm tape device for an HP system and a Linux system.
    • Several new workstations have been procured to support RAMM Team staff additions.
    • The latest version of AWIPS D2D software has been installed on the RAMM Team HP workstations to support case study and real-time data display efforts.
    • Two additional 18 GB drives have been added to the RAMM Team/VISIT HP to support AWIPS case study work and precipitation research.
    • The UNIDATA Local Data Management (LDM) software has been installed on Auriga.  The LDM is bringing in the NOAAPORT Channel 1 datafeed, which contains  model output from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP); the observations, forecasts, watches and warnings produced by NWS Forecast Offices; and most observational data over North America.  The dataset will be used in conjunction with CIRA ground station satellite data to support RAMM’s real-time AWIPS workstation.
    • A beta version of McIDAS-X 7.5 has been installed on the VISIT HP.   A full release of McIDAS-X 7.5 will be made available in conjunction with the release of RAMSDIS-OS2 7.5 (early May).
    • All necessary modifications to system files for the MCIDAS 7.5 upgrade have been completed, as have most of the ADDE modifications to applications programs for the MCIDAS 7.5 upgrade.
    • Most Y2K modifications to programs for the MCIDAS 7.5 upgrade are complete.


  • Travel

    Team Member
    DeMaria, M.
    Dallas, TX
    AMS Annual Meeting, 23rd Hurricane Conf. 
    1/11 to 15
    Zehr, R.
    Dallas, TX
    AMS Annual Meeting, 23rd Hurricane Conf. 
    1/11 to 15
    Motta, B.
    Dallas, TX
    AMS Annual Meeting, 15th IIPS Conference
    1/11 to 15
    Knaff, J.
    Dallas, TX
    AMS Annual Meeting, 23rd Hurricane Conf. 
    1/11 to 15
    DeMaria, M.
    Biloxi, MS
    53rd Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference
    2/8 to 12
    Zehr, R.
    Biloxi, MS
    53rd Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference
    2/8 to 12
    Weaver, J.
    Lubbock, TX
    S. High Plains Severe Weather Conference
    2/8 to 11
    Bikos, D.
    Boulder, CO
    COMET Satellite Meteorology Course
    3/1 to 11
    Bikos, D.
    Des Moines, IA
    NWA Doppler Radar Course
    3/6 & 7
    Motta, B.
    Des Moines, IA
    NWA Doppler Radar Course
    3/6 & 7
    Connell, B.
    Costa Rica
    Regional Meteorological Training Center Visit
    3/8 to 12
    DeMaria, M.
    Washington, DC
    Team Leaders Meeting
     3/16 to 19
    DeMaria, M.
    Boulder, CO
    USWRP Science Symposium
    3/29 to 4/1
    Zehr, R.
    Boulder, CO
    USWRP Science Symposium
    3/29 & 30
    Motta, B.
    Boulder, CO
    COMET Precourse Meeting


  • List of Acronyms

    AMS:  American Meteorological Society

    AMSU:  Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit

    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

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

    CONUS: Continental U.S.

    CSU:  Colorado State University

    FEMA: Federal Emergency Management Agency

    FTP: File Transfer Protocol

    GIF: Graphics Interchange Format

    GINI: GOES Ingest NOAA-port Interface

    GOES: Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite

    GRID:  Gridded Data (McIDAS file type)

    HRD:  Hurricane Research Division

    HTML: Hypertext Markup Language

    IR: Infrared

    ISTPDS:  Integrated Sensor Training Professional Development Series

    LDAD: Local Data Acquisition and Dissemination

    LTO: Low Level Thunderstorm Outflow

    LUT: Look Up Table

    McIDAS: Man Computer Interactive Data Access 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

    NOAA:  National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    NPOESS: National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System

    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

    PCGRIDDS: Personal Computer Based Gridded Interactive Display and Diagnostic System

    PCI:  Principal Component Imagery

    POES: Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite

    POP: Product Oversight Panel

    PRC:  Peoples Republic of China

    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

    SMC: Satellite Meteorology Center (Beijing, PRC)

    SAB: Satellite Applications Branch

    SOCC: Satellite Operations Control Center

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

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

    TAC: Technical Advisory Committee

    TOVS: TIROS Operational Vertical Sounder

    USWRP: United States Weather Research Program

    UTC:  Coordinated Universal Time

    VISIT: Virtual Institute for Satellite Integration Training

    WMO: World Meteorological Organization

    WV:  Water Vapor

    Y2K: Year 2000