The NOAA National Weather Service (NWS) Headquarters has issued a directive that all sounding sites in the southern, central, and eastern regions (along with Montana) are to launch soundings every 6-hours until further notice. The idea here is that the additional upper-air data will help improve numerical forecasts of hurricane Irene — and I fully agree. Ultimately, better observations being ingested into the model guidance should help model forecasts, as well as the NOAA National Hurricane Center with their forecast of the all-important question: Does Irene make landfall somewhere along the densely populated east coast of the United States? (I’ve listed the message below for your reading pleasure.)
So what’s the paradox? For years now the satellite community, as well as some inside the NWS, have argued that NWS Radiosonde (sounding) Program should be scrapped in favor of using satellite derived soundings — especially for numerical forecasts!. In fact, due to recent budget issues inside the federal government, every year there is talk of cutting, or drastically scaling back, the NWS Radiosonde Program in favor of satellite derived soundings. So here is my question:
If the satellite derived soundings are so good, why does the NWS feel the need to have 6-hourly launches for the foreseeable future to improve the numerical guidance of Irene?
I happen to work very closely with another national center that I’m sure would love to have daily 6-hourly soundings to help with their forecast responsibilities…
NOUS42 KWNO 242215
SENIOR DUTY METEOROLOGIST NWS ADMINISTRATIVE MESSAGE NWS NCEP CENTRAL OPERATIONS CAMP SPRINGS MD 2214Z WED AUG 24 2011
NWSHQ DIRECTIVE TO LAUNCH SIX-HOURLY RAOBS /SOUNDINGS/...
SDM IS HEREBY RELAYING A DIRECTIVE FROM NWSHQ FOR WFO/S IN ALL OF EASTERN..SOUTHERN AND CENTRAL REGIONS PLUS MONTANA IN WESTERN REGION TO LAUNCH SIX-HOURLY RAOBS /SOUNDINGS/ BEGINNING AT THU 25 AUG 06Z AND UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. THIS DIRECTIVE IS TO PROVIDE ADDITIONAL DATA INPUT WHICH SHOULD HELP WITH MODEL GUIDANCE IN FORECASTING THE FUTURE TRACK AND IMPACTS OF HURRICANE IRENE.