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  • Dan Powers

March 12: Science Flash Update - How Does the National Weather Service Forecast Huge Snowstorms?

Friday, March 12, 2021: The expected snowstorm for the weekend of March 12 - 14, 2021 in Colorado has been in the news for a week with increasingly nuanced forecasting about the amount and location of very heavy snowfall.

How do atmospheric scientists and meterologists make these forecasts? How do they really know what is going to happen? CO-LABS hosted a Quick Flash update to hear from an expert at the National Weather Service's Boulder, CO. office.

Paul Schlatter is the Science and Operations Officer at the National Weather Service Forecast Office in Boulder. Paul has been with the NWS for 18 years, the last 5 at the Boulder office. He is a Boulder, CO native, a graduate of Fairview High School, and the son of a retired PhD meteorologist that worked at both NCAR and NOAA. He has also worked at NWS headquarters in Maryland as the Chief of Staff of the NWS.

Paul described how the NWS makes forecasts for storms many days in advance. He discussed the tools and technology they use, decisions they make with changing and updated information, and how they connect those actions/decisions to decision makers and the public.

(Note this was recorded around 1:30pm on Friday, March 12, 2021.)

A highlight was learning the options for "citizen scientists" to contribute info on storms online and by phone, which remains an important part of weather research. Check out how to send reports from your location via the MPing app, and much more.

You'll get insight to very sophisticated modeling tools such as the High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) model and the Maintenance Decision Support System.created by the National Center for Atmospheric Research.

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