National Weather Association Annual Meeting Honors Victims of 2011’s Horrific Spring Tornadoes

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NOTE:  ImpactWeather meteorologist Jennifer Stein traveled to Birmingham this week to attend the annual meeting of the National Weather Association and files this report of what went on.

The 2011 annual meeting of the National Weather Association (NWA) was held this week in Birmingham, Alabama.  Coincidentally, the area had been devastated only six months ago by deadly severe thunderstorms and tornadoes and a large portion of the meeting was dedicated to the tornado super outbreak across the Southeast and mid-Mississippi Valley this spring.

Many of the speakers included meteorologists from the Storm Prediction Center and National Weather Service offices that dealt directly with these storms.  In-depth research and analysis on these events were presented with topics including the early morning quasi-linear convective system over northern Alabama and south-central Tennessee, the Smithville, MS EF-5 tornado, the northern and central Georgia tornadoes, the St. Louis “miracle” tornado and the Joplin, MO EF-5 tornado.


The speakers discussed historical comparisons, records and statistics, the meteorology behind the events, various radar detection and warning methods and the societal impacts of these storms.  Additionally, a town hall was hosted Tuesday evening where over 100 residents of central and northern Alabama participated in a survey about the days before the super outbreak, how they reacted during the storms and what changes they have made since the devastation.  NWA attendees (which include meteorologists from NOAA, the private sector, the media and students) were able to attend the town hall and observe how the citizens responded to the questions.  Many surveys will continue to be conducted over the coming months which will allow meteorologists to understand what the public feels went right during these events and areas that need to be improved upon for future severe weather events.

A few presentations also gave insight into the up-and-coming dual-polarization radar system.  The presentations included topics such as using dual-pol radars to better predict hail size and wind shear favorable for tornado development in severe thunderstorms.  Two dual-pol radars were utilized during the severe weather outbreak this spring with presentations showing the data collected from these storms.  All of the National Weather Service WSR-88D 150+ radars are expected to be upgraded to dual-pol by 2013.

NWA town hall meeting. Photo: via Flickr

Although much of the meeting was dedicated to the severe weather outbreaks this year, other topics at the meeting included major winter storms (the severe ice storm in Corpus Christi, TX and the two major winter storms this past winter across the Northeast U.S.) and the major flooding events during the spring and summer months.


Other current news about the annual meeting:

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