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Using Near-Storm Environment Data in the Warning Decision Making Process


Brad Grant

Pete Wolf



Archived Training






Forecasters are besieged with an increasing array of graphical data sets to analyze the mesoscale environment on AWIPS. Determining which fields or parameter sets which can most effectively be used in the warning decision making process is a difficult problem. Often, a Weather Forecast Office’s warning team is understaffed and can become overly preoccupied with using radar-derived products alone to base warnings due to time restraints. By analyzing the near storm convective environment, forecasters can improve their awareness of potential storm types and evolutions in the near term and reduce the chances of being surprised by subsequent severe weather events. In addition, analyzing mesoscale data (such as LAPS) can help reduce false alarms by enabling the warning forecaster to distinguish between favorable and unfavorable environments for severe storms which develop across the County Warning Area.


The goal of this training is to illustrate the utility of integrating near storm environment (NSE) data sets in AWIPS such as RUC, LAPS, MSAS in the warning decision making process. Objectively analyzed fields of CAPE and CIN (for assessing a storm’s updraft capabilities) equivalent potential temperature (for assessing areas of potential convective instability), and vertical wind shear parameters such as bulk shear and storm relative helicity (for modulating storm organization and development) are evaluated for a number of cases. In addition, LAPS and RUC grid point soundings are used to evaluate differences in near storm environment. The cases used in the training will illustrate some of the model to model differences in the derived fields and demonstrate how forecasters can effectively verify model output with observed conditions. Also, ways to monitor and manage NSE data sets on the AWIPS workstation will be shown. A short warning decision-making exercise will be conducted at the conclusion of the presentation.

Training Session Options

  1. VISITview playback without Audio – You may step through the VISITview file on your own to view the presentation. If talking points are available, you may use these in tandem with going through the slides.

    Create a directory to download the playback file from the following site:

    After extracting the files into that directory click on the visitlocal.bat file to start the lesson. Advance slides on your own using the navigation controls (i.e., the Next button will advance to the next slide)

References/Additional Links

  • Talking Points are available for this lesson and may be printed out to easily review the session in detail at any time.
  • MSAS FSL web site
This course is Basic

There are no prerequisites


Dan Bikos

Page Contact

Bernie Connell


Unless otherwise noted, all content on the CIRA RAMMB: VISIT, SHyMet and VLab webpages are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.