October will be a busy month in Norman, Oklahoma, for the NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory and others in the weather community, with visitors attending several events in the area. The Society of Environmental Journalists comes to town for their annual meeting October 8-11, followed by the National Weather Association’s Annual Meeting October 17-22, and finally the National Weather Festival will take place on October 31. Multiple agencies and groups will take part in each event. With so many involved, it can be hard to differentiate all the players.
Here are eight things you need to know about NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory:
- We recently celebrated our 50th anniversary. NSSL was established in 1964, when the National Severe Storms Project moved from Kansas City to Norman. Edwin Kessler was appointed the first director. A small group of scientists had been working in Norman for two years prior, with a recently installed Weather Surveillance Radar-1957 at the Weather Radar Laboratory.
- NSSL is comprised of three main divisions: Forecast Research & Development, Warning Research & Development, and Radar Research & Development.
- Our research is focused on meeting six Grand Scientific Challenges. These include:
- Developing reliable probabilistic guidance products
- Producing enhanced capabilities for WSR-88D
- Reliably predicting flash flooding
- Predicting useful warnings of lightning activity one hour in advance
- Developing a reliable nowcasting system for convective initiation
- Providing and communicating warning uncertainty information for high impact weather events
- We are published. A lot. Our work appears in the journals of the American Meteorological Society, the American Geophysical Union, Science, and beyond.
- We have a legacy of excellence in research. In September 2015, NSSL’s Harold Brooks was awarded the Nikolai Dotzek Award at the European Conference on Severe Storms. For a complete list of our awards over the years: http://nssl.noaa.gov/about/awards/.
- We help create a Weather-Ready Nation. NSSL is part of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research. NSSL is committed to finding new ways to observe and predict severe weather, and we often work with another line office, NOAA’s National Weather Service, to support them in saving lives and property.
- We have a strong partnership with the University of Oklahoma’s Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies. Many of our researchers are actually CIMMS scientists, who make valuable contributions to NSSL work.
- We’re in the National Weather Center. For many years, NSSL was located in what is known as “North Base,” which currently houses the Radar Operations Center. In 2006, we moved six miles south when the NWC opened its doors. We are now co-located with several branches of the National Weather Service, including the Storm Prediction Center, the Norman Weather Forecast Office, and the Warning Decision Training Division. A great environment for collaboration!