The first experiment in forecasting cool-season weather with the PROFS system
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The first experiment in forecasting cool-season weather with the PROFS system

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    The Program for Regional Observing and Forecasting Services (PROFS) conducted a winter weather forecasting exercise from February through April of 1984. This was PROFS' first attempt at applying advanced data processing and display technologies to winter weather forecasting problems. The exercise was preliminary in nature: forecasters were volunteer researchers from meteorological organizations in the Boulder area; they worked only during active weather; and exercise operations were constrained to periods when there was no system development work in progress. Eleven events were forecast. The primary objective of the exercise was to introduce the PROFS staff and the local contingent of meteorologists to winter weather forecasting and procedures. The emphasis was on understanding some of the mesoscale aspects of winter weather and not on maximizing the accuracy of the forecasts. In addition to conventional satellite, rawinsonde, and surface data, the forecasters had access to data from the PROFS mesonet and from the Colorado wind profiling system of the Wave Propagation Laboratory. The case of 22 March 1984 is presented to illustrate the potential usefulness of these new data sets in winter weather forecasting situations. Despite their lack of experience forecasting winter weather, the forecasters' scores were reasonably good. Temperature forecasts were comparable to those of the National Weather Service. Ceiling height and visibility forecasts showed considerable skill relative to random forecasts and to climatology. Precipitation forecast scores showed that our probability of detection was better than half and our false alarm rates below one-third. PROFS may conduct another winter weather forecasting exercise in the future; a discussion of the prospects for such an exercise is given.
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