Using NWP In Forecast Operations: A New COMET Training Course
William R. Bua, Stephen D. Jascourt, Gregory P. Byrd

1. Introduction

The Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET®) Program has been developing forecaster training on numerical weather prediction (NWP) for ten years. However, most of this training has focused on particular models, model changes, and new model products. Meanwhile, National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters now create grids of sensible weather forecasts at 5-km or 2.5-km grid spacing. The application of NWP products has been correspondingly extended from conceiving of the forecast to using a grid editor to create the forecast, but our training has until now considered the former to be the endpoint. These factors led NWS to prioritize development of a new forecast training course on the effective use of NWP in the forecast process.

2. Course Organization

A needs assessment survey was conducted in advance to identify more precisely what the course should contain, and was reported on at the 2008 NWA meeting. We followed the NWS Warning Decision Training Branch (WDTB) Advanced Warning Operations Course â Winter Track design (, with instructional components (ICs) based on groupings from the needs assessment survey. Each IC was broken down into topical lessons covering relevant aspects of NWP recommended by the needs assessment survey participants. Lessons are provided mostly by subject matter experts (SMEs) who volunteered through the needs assessment survey.

3. Course Content

The first IC will be an introduction and orientation to the course itself. Included will be an explanation of the course motivation, rationale and purpose; course structure and navigation via the course interface; how to obtain course credit through the NWS Learning Management System (LMS); and other relevant items. The second IC (IC2), Overview of NWP Models, contains basic model content from the previous NWP course, both for deterministic and probabilistic NWP. Also, information on current NWP model and ensemble forecast system (EFS) infrastructure will reside as a quick reference in the Operational Model and Ensemble Forecast System Matrices. IC3, NWP in the Forecast Process, contains all new material and will illustrate through webcast lessons and small WES cases where NWP fits in a defined forecast process. Development of this IC is taking place during the 2009 Fiscal Year.

4. Future additions to NWP course

Beyond the 2009 fiscal year, IC4: NWP in the IFPS Era, with lessons on using NWP in gridded digital guidance, and IC5: Specific Topics in NWP will be developed. The advent of AWIPS2 will also result in a big training need. In particular, forecasters will be choosing to pull in NWP data rather than having it pushed at them in the new AWIPS system. As a result, there will be a need for training development and delivery on what data (out of the huge amounts available) is most useful to deal with the forecast problems of the day.