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New NOAA study in North Carolina may improve forecasting, lead times for dangerous storms

New NOAA study in North Carolina may improve forecasting, lead times for dangerous storms

Friday, June 21, 2013

Contact: Barb Deluisi, barb.deluisi@noaa.gov, 303-497-4233, 
or Monica Allen, monica.allen@noaa.gov301-734-1123

This month, NOAA launched a 1½-year long pilot study in North Carolina to improve understanding and forecasting of dangerous storms that can lead to flooding and economic losses. From the coastline to the mountains, state-of-the-art NOAA instrumentation is being set up in numerous locations across the state that will provide forecasters and researchers with data that may improve forecasting and lead-time for high-impact weather events, such as tropical storms and summertime thunderstorms.

NOAA weather research instrumentation

NOAA weather research instrumentation

Instrumentation recently installed in Hankins, NC for the HMT-Southeast Pilot Study (midground left to right: snow-level radar, rain gauge, optical disdrometer, and meteorological tower)

Improved forecasting as a result of this study could prevent some of the costly impacts to people and property of future storms, like the flooding experienced along the East Coast in 2010 by Hurricane Irene which caused $1.5 billion in economic losses.

The “NOAA Hydrometeorology Testbed (HMT)-Southeast” project consists of a coastal field site in New Bern, which will provide insight into landfalling tropical systems and coastal processes that drive inland rainfall. Locations in the middle of the state (Charlotte and Raleigh) will further understanding of the complex boundaries that set up in this region and ultimately determine the location and intensity of rainfall. The largest concentration of instruments will be located in the western part of the state, in the upper Catawba River basin (Morganton, Old Fort and Marion), and will closely examine watershed-specific questions including investigating the role of the Appalachian mountains in driving heavy rainfall.

The HMT concept consists of a series of demonstration projects in different geographical regions to enhance understanding of region-specific processes related to precipitation. The first HMT regional demonstration (HMT-West) began in 2004 and focused on the West Coast of the U.S.

NOAA weather research instrumentation

NOAA weather research instrumentation

For this study, instruments from NOAA as well as from a collaborative NASA study occurring in the same vicinity, and from existing operational and academic institutions, will be used. HMT’s research partners include local NOAA National Weather Service forecast offices; national, state and local environmental agencies; and university research groups. Cooperation between HMT and these partner groups has enhanced the overall project scope, and has even resulted in restored operability of some existing instruments that had been in need of repair.

To learn more about the study, visit: http://hmt.noaa.gov/field_programs/hmt-se

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