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Integrated Sensor Training

Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere

Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies

Operational Support FacilityOperations Training Branch

National Severe Storms Laboratory

Last Updated by:
Scott Bachmeier

Integrated Sensor Training (IST) Professional Development Series

Unit 9: Using AWIPS in the Forecast Process

Instructional Component 9.1.3:

"Diagnosis of Elevated Mesoscale Ascent: The Midland TX Heavy Snow Event of 11 Dec 1998"

Scott Bachmeier (University of Wisconsin - Madison / CIMSS / VISIT)
David Schultz (National Severe Storms Laboratory)

Raymond Fagen, Brian Francis, George Mathews, Greg Murdoch (NWSFO Midland)
Philip Schumacher (NWSFO Sioux Falls)
Greg Byrd, Doug Wesley (COMET)

    (1) Introduction

      This VISIT teletraining lesson will utilize integrated AWIPS data sets to examine an event of heavy snowfall across southwest Texas and southeast New Mexico on 11 December 1998. The emphasis will be on the diagnosis of regions of elevated mesoscale ascent which were responsible for enhancing snowfall rates across the region.

      This training session will review the following concepts:

      • types of forcing capable of producing elevated synoptic and mesoscale ascent
      • types of instability that can be released by the aforementioned lifting mechanisms
      • charateristics of rawinsonde profiles that are favorable for snow events
      • lightning in winter storms
      • GOES IR enhancements for use during snow events
      • weaknesses and strengths of AWIPS and GEMPAK model diagnostic capabilities (CSI, PSI, frontogenesis, etc)
      • precipitation banding features indicated by radar and satellite

    (2) Teletraining file installation instructions

    (3) Training session options:

      A.) The interactive VISITview training session. (To be used with a VISIT instructor leading the session). Click here to signup for teletraining. The session will last 75 minutes. This teletraining session uses the VISITview software, where a Windows PC (with 64 MB RAM or greater) with an Internet connection is needed.

      B.) Web-based training session - a "stand alone" version viewed via a Web browser, with embedded "Instructor Notes" included. This lesson version may be viewed at any time. These slides are ideal for printing from a Web browser.

      C.) Web-based VISITview session - This version uses the VISITview software within a Web browser, and may be viewed at any time. It retains all the functionality of the VISITview software which you see in a "live" teletraining session. The Instructor Notes are not included in this lesson version, but can be viewed in a separate Web browser (or printed out beforehand).

      D.) local VISITview session - This is the same version of the lesson used in a "live" VISITview teletraining session, but no connection is made to an external VISITview server. You may download the file off this page and go through the lesson on your own in "local mode" by starting the visitlocal.bat file. Instructor Notes are not included in this lesson version, but can be viewed in a separate Web browser ( or printed out beforehand).

    (4) References/Additional Links

    • CIMSS GOES Gallery: 11 December 1998 - Heavy snow in southwest Texas.
    • Colman, B.R., 1990: Thunderstorms above frontal surfaces in environments with and without positive CAPE, Mon. Wea. Rev., 118, 1103-1144.
    • Durran, D.R., and L.W. Snellman, 1987: The diagnosis of synoptic-scale vertical motion in an operational environment, Wea. Forecasting, 2, 17-31.
    • Nicosia, D.J., and R.H. Grumm, 1999: Mesoscale band formation in three major northeastern United States snowstorms, Wea. Forecasting, 14, 346-368.
    • Schultz, D.M., and P.N. Schumacher, 1999: The use and misuse of conditional symmetric instability, Mon. Wea. Rev., 127, 2709-2732 (also available via COMET WebCast)
    • National Weather Service Training Center CD-ROM, 1997: An introduction to winter precipitation type nowcasting.
    • MacGorman, D.R., and W.D. Rust, 1998: The Electrical Nature of Storms, Oxford Univ. Press, 422 pp.
    • Schultz, D.M., 1999: Lake effect snowstorms in northern Utah and western New York with and without lightning, Wea. Forecasting, 14, 1023-1031.

    (5) Train-the-TrainerTM

    Instructor Notes have been developed which list the salient points to discuss on each page of the VISITview lesson. Using these notes while running the lesson in "visitlocal" mode will allow students to view the material in a "standalone" mode, without the need for a VISIT instructor.

    (6) Points of contact: