VORTEX-SE: Successes and Challenges from the Local NWS Perspective
Brian Carcione, NOAA/NWS Huntsville, AL
Lauren Nash, NOAA/NWS Huntsville, AL

The Verification of the Origins of Rotation in Tornadoes EXperiment-Southeast (VORTEX-SE) has completed two campaigns during Spring 2016 and 2017. Unlike past VORTEX studies, VORTEX-SE has been focused on an area around Huntsville, Alabama, and the unique challenges of forecasting tornadoes in the southeast. This offered the local National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Forecast Office (WFO) significant benefits as well as interesting challenges.

Forecasting for VORTEX-SE has presented several unique challenges. The timing of the project (during spring semester at most universities) and the relatively short predictability horizons of severe weather on such a small scale (~50 km) proved difficult to manage. However, WFO Huntsville severe weather operations improved overall thanks in part to the increased availability of data from VORTEX-SE including atmospheric soundings, high-resolution surface observations, and meteorologists in the field providing observations. These additional data led to better real-time mesoanalyses, situational awareness, and briefings for core partners. WFO forecasters also gained the opportunity to work extensively with social scientists both inside and outside of the office, which greatly improved forecastersí understanding of social sciences and their potential utility.

This presentation will discuss both the opportunities and the challenges encountered to date, as well as what is expected in the near future.