Forecasting and Monitoring Intense Thunderstorms in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya Region
Jonathan Case, ENSCO, Inc./NASA SPoRT Center, Huntsville, AL
Patrick Gatlin, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Daniel Cecil, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center
Jordan Bell, University of Alabama - Huntsville
Walter Petersen, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

Some of the most intense thunderstorms on the planet occur in the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) region of South Asia — where many organizations lack the capacity needed to predict, observe and/or effectively respond to the threats associated with high-impact convective weather.  Among the convective hazards include tornadoes, damaging straight-line winds, large hail, and flash flooding, which typically peak in the pre-wet-monsoon season (~March through May).  Previous studies have documented a disproportionately large number of casualties associated with severe thunderstorms in this region; therefore, it is the goal of this project to increase situational awareness of these hazards through improved short-term modeling and satellite assessment.

This project combines innovative numerical weather prediction (NWP) strategies, satellite-based precipitation, and land-imagery techniques into a high-impact weather assessment toolkit (HIWAT).  The HIWAT will be developed over the next 1-2 years, with the goal of transitioning capabilities to weather-sensitive agencies in the HKH region, in order to improve situational awareness and warning decision support.  The short-term NWP strategies involve developing a real-time regional deterministic and “on-demand” mini-ensemble system, which is the focus of this presentation.  A daily deterministic simulation will produce severe weather indices (SCP, STP, DCP, SHIP) over targeted areas of the HKH region, extending from northern Pakistan through Bangladesh.  The target area with the highest potential for intense thunderstorms will then trigger an on-demand mini-ensemble in which both initial conditions and physical parameterizations are perturbed.  The mini-ensemble will output products similar to the Storm-Scale Ensemble of Opportunity at the Storm Prediction Center (i.e., “paintball” maps, probabilities of exceeding thresholds of updraft helicity, 10-m wind speeds, etc.) to hone into the most likely areas for severe weather.  Satellite products (e.g., GPM) and land-cover processing techniques will then be used to observe convective characteristics and provide datasets to aid in disaster-response activities following an event.