Research

What am I up to?

Currently, within the Science Support Branch at SPC, I am working on coming up new diagnostic variables to help improve the forecasting of severe hail. With the advent of more and more high-resolution convection allowing models (CAMs) there is an abundance of data with smaller-scale features that are explicitly resolved. Can all this information be mined to find new and improved signals for severe hail? We think so and that is what I am tasked with doing at SPC. Using my knowledge of the physical atmosphere, computer programming, and statistics I am extracting data from several CAMs and using the data to formulation new hail proxies. Of course, I then calculate verification statistics on these new proxies and compare them to those that have been used traditionally.

Previous Research Activities

Graduate Research
Previously, for my graduate research at the University of Illinois, I had chosen to study the interactions between convective storm cells. To carry out this research, I utilized the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF). Using over 200 idealized numerical simulations, I analyzed large amounts of data to try and find a coherent picture of how buoyancy and shear impacts the relationship between storm interactions and storm evolution. My research was supervised by one of the leaders of the Convective Modeling Group (CMG), Dr. Brian Jewett.

Convective interactions are important for their potential to inhibit or enhance the possibility of severe weather. In particular, when these interactions lead to severe weather events, they can be a big headache for meteorologists issuing warnings. If we can gain insight into when and why storm interactions lead to enhanced, or even inhibited, severe weather risk, we can potentially help forecasters make better decisions with regard to warnings.

tlx_053013_2Convective storm cell interactions, like the one shown on the left, occur when one storm cell is in close enough proximity to another that it affects the storm structure or evolution of another cell. The radar loop on the left is from KTLX in Norman, OK on May 30, 2013 (1800Z to 2100Z). We see supercell translate to the northeast and subsume another smaller cell from the south just as they both cross I-35. The more dominant supercell storm takes on a classic structure with a well-defined hook after the merger. Interactions do not always lead to intensification.

Recent Publications/Presentations

Wendt, N. A., I. L. Jirak, and C. J. Melick: 2016, Verification of Severe Weather Proxies from the NSSL-WRF for Hail Forecasting. Poster session, 28th Conference on Severe Local Storms, 7 Nov – 11 Nov, Portland, OR.
Wendt, N. A., B. F. Jewett, and R. B. Wilhelmson: 2014, Effects of environmental shear and buoyancy on simulated supercell interactions. Poster session, 27th Conference on Severe Local Storms, 2 Nov – 7 Nov, Madison, WI.