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5 Actions to Fulfill Recommendations Planned actions that will ensure fulfilling all the recommendations listed in Chapter 4 are contained in the National STORM Program Plan (NCAR, 1990).1 Designed over a number of years by a broad segment of the research and operational meteorological community, this program has been reviewed by this committee, which endorses its goals and the means proposed for achieving them. Therefore the committee reiterates its primary recommendation that highest priority be given to implementing the National STORM Program in order to fulfill the recommendations made in Chapter 4. The goals of STORM are • Ib advance the fundamental understanding of precipitation and other mesoscale meteorological processes and of their role in the hydro- logical cycle, and • To improve the 0- to 48-hour prediction of precipitation and severe weather events. The National Weather Service's (NWS) modernization, with its new 'After this report was completed, the authoring committee learned that a new mesoscale re- search initiative was under consideration by the Interagency Committee on Earth Sciences of the Federal Coordinating Council on Science, Engineering, and Icchnology. This new initiative was still being defined, but the committee understands that the initiative will likely include the goals and objectives of STORM, although it may have additional goals as well. Therefore, the committee expects that this report will be as relevant to goals of the new initiative as it is to those of STORM. 34
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observing systems and improved processing and communications capabili- ties, will provide an opportunity for significant improvements in operational mesoscale weather prediction and warning services. However, maximum gains will not be realized from the modernization unless a complementary research program designed to take advantage of the modernization is car- ried out . The National STORM Program is designed to meet precisely this need. Compared to the cost (estimated to exceed $1 billion) of the NWS modernization itself, the estimated cost of STORM ($240 million over 10 years) is relatively modest but will support an essential incremental effort to ensure the successful outcome of the modernization. The National STORM Program has several action components, some of the more important of which are described briefly below. The reader is referred to the STORM Program Plan (NCAR, 1990) for more detailed information. • Basic research. STORM calls for an integrated program of basic research designed to increase fundamental understanding of the structure and evolution of the mesoscale phenomena that produce severe storms and precipitation. Tib achieve this, a series of intensive field projects are proposed for various parts of the country and in different seasons. The principal purpose of these studies is to gather the data necessary to understand how various scales of meteorological phenomena interact to produce severe weather. • Numerical models for weather forecasting. STORM proposes that a national numerical weather prediction test facility be established at the National Meteorological Center. The principal purpose of this facility will be to test, in an operational environment, the most promising numerical weather prediction models developed by the research community. The STORM field projects will provide data needed to initialize, test, and improve these models. Out of these efforts should emerge mesoscale models for use in operational weather forecasting as well as a much better understanding of the theoretical and practical limits of predictability of mesoscale weather systems. • Assessment of new observing systems. Another key activity of STORM is to test, validate, and assess the new NWS observing systems. The close cooperation between engineers and scientists that will be re- quired to achieve these goals will be fostered by the STORM program. For example, the special data sets collected in the STORM field projects can be used for this purpose. Also, the STORM data management system (see below) will provide the framework within which proper assessment of the data can be carried out. • Data assimilation, access, and management. The new meteorological observing systems will provide high volumes of diverse data that must
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36 be assimilated into comprehensible and useful products. At present, no complete mesoscale data assimilation system exists. The STORM Data Assimilation Working Group will be responsible for developing such a system. STORM will also develop a data management system for the efficient collection, processing, storage, cataloging, retrieval, and distribution of mesoscale data. • Education and training. If the data from the new meteorological observing systems are to be properly utilized to improve basic understand- ing and weather forecasts, there must be substantial programs of education and training in the universities, the federal government, and the private sector. STORM provides the natural framework in which to carry out this multifaceted task. For example, the STORM program includes the concept of experimental forecast centers, where operational meteorologists, researchers, and students can work together to develop strategies for effec- tive operational uses of the new technologies. This committee is convinced that STORM will provide an unparalleled opportunity to significantly increase our understanding of many atmospheric processes and phenomena. For the first time, it will be possible to observe and understand mesoscale processes on a multiplicity of scales that interact with one another. This new understanding will result in improved weather warnings and forecasts for industry, government, agriculture, national de- fense, transportation, and the general public. These benefits are large and will exceed greatly the estimated cost of the National STORM Program. For example, the potential savings in reducing property damage alone are estimated to be at least $1 billion a year. When savings from improvements in efficiency in agriculture, industry, national defense, and transportation are considered, the potential annual benefits from STORM increase by several billion dollars. While the economic benefits promised by a successful STORM pro- gram are substantial, the potential benefits of increased protection of human life are even more impressive. Currently, the combination of flash floods, lightning, tornadoes, and weather-related transportation accidents accounts for much needless loss of life and personal injury each year. Timely warnings and better forecasts will substantially reduce these losses. The National STORM Program is clearly in the best interests of the nation. This program provides an effective mechanism for addressing the challenges and opportunities in mesoscale meteorological research and operations in the next decade. Virtually all segments of our society will benefit, and at a cost estimated to be far less than the value of the expected gains. The program is scientifically feasible, much of the planning has been done, and the atmospheric science community is ready to begin. All that remains is to do it.
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37 The time to act is now. If full advantage is to be taken of the new observational capabilities and the mounting scientific expertise, and if this advantage is to be successfully translated into improved operational forecast and warning capabilities and into improved understanding of mesoscale processes important in global and regional climate, then the National STORM Program, first proposed in 1983, should be put into action without further delay.