NWS Jackson Mississippi Week Two Hazardous Weather Impact Assessments (203)

Brad Bryant, NWS, Jackson, MS



Over the past decade, the proliferation of overly sensational and unreliable forecast information for the week two (8 to 14 day) forecast period from social media sources has been an escalating concern. These posts are often misleading to the public and have potential to lead decision-making entities into making unwise longer term resource allocation adjustments. In the spring of 2014, National Weather Service (NWS) Jackson, Mississippi (JAN) office management made the decision to utilize a local &ldquoclimate cadre&rdquo for the purpose of creating and distributing a Week Two Hazardous Weather Impact Assessment to staff and the emergency management community, hopefully filling the void of sensible significant weather potential information in the week two period. This &ldquoclimate cadre&rdquo (composed of JAN forecasters and interns interested in longer range forecasting) was well suited to the task, as they were trained local experts for popular climate topics such as El Nino - Southern Oscillation, Madden Julian Oscillation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center (CPC) products. Initial forecasts proved immediately successful, communicating potential of a severe weather outbreak, which ultimately resulted in a violent killer tornado moving through the city of Louisville, Mississippi. Since that time, Week Two Hazardous Weather Impact Assessments, produced by the &ldquoclimate cadre&rdquo, have slowly evolved in format after careful consideration of core partner feedback and the inherent limitations of forecast skill in the week two period.

The current format of the product communicates an assessment of up to eight different weather hazards in the WFO for the week two period, twice a week, in a concise table through assigning confidence levels on whether each threat will or will not occur. Assessed weather hazards include: severe thunderstorms, flash flooding, dangerous heat, tropical systems, freezing temperatures, wintry precipitation, dangerous cold, and fire weather. Every effort is made to ensure the Week Two Hazardous Weather Impact Assessment is consistent with operational forecasts offered on a broader scale by the CPC and other NOAA agencies. Along with a table depicting confidence levels for each potential weather hazard, there is also a brief text discussion to illuminate details including general timing of hazards and geographic areas.

So far, Week Two Hazardous Weather Impact Assessments produced by NWS Jackson MS have only been disseminated to a group of core partners and internally to office staff. Based on positive feedback from core partners and others in the NWS community, wider distribution is now being considered in an effort to move past a long term evaluation period. Current and future efforts include a continued focus on refining long range forecasting techniques and developing automated, precise verification to better gauge performance and help further improve forecast skill.