Partnership and collaboration offers opportunities

Several CIMMS researchers from the Warning Decision Training Division visited WeatherNews, Inc.

Several researchers from The University of Oklahoma Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies recently took their meteorological knowledge to the opposite side of the world to help train others in the field.

CIMMS researchers with NOAA’s Warning Decision Training Division participated in the International Symposium on Earth-Science Challenges in Kyoto, Japan. They taught a short course before traveling to Tokyo to tour and present at Weathernews, Inc, the largest private weather service company globally with more than 700 staff in 15 countries.

Members of the CIMMS team, including researchers Alex Zwink and Eric Jacobsen, presented WDTD’s short-course activity using the Weather Event Simulator, a tool similar to a flight simulator, used in the U.S. to train NOAA National Weather Service forecasters on all factors of warning decision making, including the stress involved in issuing warnings for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms and flash floods.

“The Japanese don’t have the same integrated data viewer like the National Weather Service,” Zwink said. “They have to go to one site for satellite data, another site for radar data, another site for surface observations. In the software used by NWS forecasters, you can pull up each data source in one display. We thought it would be interesting to showcase what we use in the U.S. to provide warnings to the public to protect lives and property.”

Using the Weather Event Simulator, Zwink and Jacobsen allowed participants to issue severe weather warnings based on archived severe weather data.

“Originally, we were looking to provide a simple exhibition of the software, however the conference organization committee wanted us to do a short course instead, which we were excited to provide,” Zwink said. “We had more than 40 participants from OU and Kyoto University in the short course and during it we provided a brief overview of what we do at WDTD. The students were very engaged, asked lots of good questions, and enjoyed their time.”

CIMMS Research Associate Alex Zwink teaching the Weather Event Simulator tool to students in Kyoto, Japan.

Jacobsen said for OU the opportunity was one of professional development and enrichment.

“We learned a lot about the Japanese systems of forecasting and observation through tailoring our training for the visiting forecasters,” he said. “Particularly at the culmination of this project when we visited WNI headquarters in Japan — it was fascinating to see the scope of their operations first hand. I’m grateful for the deeper understanding of how meteorology is used around the world to save lives and property.”

During the conference, CIMMS researcher Jill Hardy, provided a presentation on the two-year radar and warning training project with Weathernews, Inc. Hardy presented with partners Daphne LaDue, OU Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms research associate, and Kunihiro Naito, a project manager at WNI.

“OU has a long history of collaborating with the Japanese in the field of meteorology,” Hardy said. “Because of this relationship, we felt honored to help improve their skills. The symposium is one example of how OU and Kyoto University make a continued effort to collaborate. We wanted to present at a conference about our training project and this symposium met our project’s overall goal. Being able to present alongside the WNI coordinator, and have OU and Japanese researchers in attendance to hear about this collaborative project was amazing.”

During the two-year project, three forecasters from WNI completed online courses and training with CIMMS instructors from WDTD. After completing the online courses, the forecasters in Japan traveled to Norman, Oklahoma, for a month-long visit to receive hands-on training.

“This face-to-face time is better for training because it allows for immediate feedback from instructors,” Hardy said.

The goal of the program was to improve operational forecasting and service for WNI customers.
After completing the program in Norman, the forecasters provided the training to others at WNI in Japan.

While visiting WNI, Hardy also presented about WDTD’s role in the National Weather Service, the role of training and how training is conducted.

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CIMMS Research Associate Jill Hardy with Daphne LaDue, OU Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms research associate, presenting on a two-year radar and warning training project with Weathernews, Inc.