ARL Weekly News – April 13, 2018

Alice Crawford attended the FACETs working group meeting (Forecasting A Continuum of Environmental Threats). The meeting took place in Norman, Oklahoma at the Severe Storms National Laboratory from April 10 through 12. Participants observed forecasters testing new tools to create probabilistic hazard information (PHI) for end users in the hazardous weather testbed. They also took part in creating a FACETs Maturity Assessment Matrix to assess the maturity of probabilistic hazard information in their program. One particularly interesting aspect of the FACETs group is the inclusion of social scientists to facilitate the design of products which communicate complicated probabilistic information effectively to the desired audience.

The Emergency Operations Center (EOC) at the Idaho National Laboratory was activated on Thursday 12 April due to an incident involving storage drums containing radiological waste. Rick Eckman was called in to occupy the NOAA position at the EOC. The building containing the drums has a filtering system to prevent external releases, so there was no need to issue any plume projections using the HYSPLIT model. As a precaution, nine high-volume air samplers located at meteorological towers operated by FRD were activated during the event. These samplers can be remotely switched on and off from FRD’s building.

A severe hail storm moved through Idaho Falls on Saturday 7 April. Reported hail sizes were from one inch up to golf-ball size, and the hail covered the ground at many locations. No damage has been observed so far either at the FRD building or the nearby meteorological stations operated by FRD. However, many homes and vehicles in the city and surrounding areas were damaged in the storm.

Brad Reese gave a demonstration this week to ARL Headquarters staff of his updated map interface for HYSPLIT model output. The updates are necessary to meet a June deadline when support will end for the mapping software used in current versions of the interface. Progress on the new interface is far enough along that no problems are expected in meeting the June deadline. Components of the new interface will be used both in HYSPLIT modeling systems supported by Headquarters and in the system used by FRD to support the Idaho National Laboratory.