AC1. Abbreviation for Altocumulus - a cloud of a class characterized by globular masses or rolls in layers or patches, the individual elements being larger and darker than those of cirrocumulus and smaller than those of stratocumulus. These clouds are of medium altitude, about 8000-20,000 ft (2400-6100 m).
2. Convective outlook issued by the Storm Prediction Center. Abbreviation for Anticipated Convection; the term originates from the header coding [ACUS1] of the transmitted product.ACCAS(usually pronounced ACK-kis) - AltoCumulus CAStellanus; mid-level clouds (bases generally 8 to 15 thousand feet), of which at least a fraction of their upper parts show cumulus-type development. These clouds often are taller than they are wide, giving them a turret-shaped appearance. ACCAS clouds are a sign of instability aloft, and may precede the rapid development of thunderstorms.Accessory CloudA cloud which is dependent on a larger cloud system for development and continuance. Roll clouds, shelf clouds, and wall clouds are examples of accessory clouds.AccretionThe growth of a precipitation particle by the collision of a frozen particle with a supercooled liquid water droplet which freezes upon impact.ACCUMSaccumulationAccuracyDegree of conformity of a measure to a standard or true value; in other words, how close a predicted or measured value is to the true value.Acid PrecipitationPrecipitation, such as rain, snow or sleet, containing relatively high concentrations of acid-forming chemicals that have been released into the atmosphere and combined with water vapor; harmful to the environment.Acid RainRain containing relatively high concentrations of acid-forming chemicals that have been released into the atmosphere and combined with water vapor; harmful to the environment.ACLDAbove Cloud LevelACPYAccompanyAcre-footThe amount of water required to cover one acre to a depth of one foot. An acre-foot equals 326,851 gallons, or 43,560 cubic feet.ACRSAcrossAction StageThe stage which, when reached by a rising stream, represents the level where the NWS or a partner/user needs to take some type of mitigation action in preparation for possible significant hydrologic activity. The appropriate action is usually defined in a weather forecast office (WFO) hydrologic services manual. Action stage can be the same as forecast issuance stage (see / forecast issuance stage/).Active(abbrev. ACTV). In solar-terrestrial terms, solar activity levels with at least one geophysical event or
several larger radio events (10cm) per day (Class M Flares)Active Conservation StorageIn hydrologic terms, the portion of water stored in a reservoir that can be released for all useful purposes such as municipal water supply, power, irrigation, recreation, fish, wildlife, etc. Conservation storage is the volume of water stored between the inactive pool elevation and flood control stage. Active Dark Filament (ADF)In solar-terrestrial terms, an Active Prominence seen on the Disk.Active LongitudeIn solar-terrestrial terms, the approximate center of a range of heliographic longitudes in which Active Regions are more numerous and more flare-active than the average.Active ProminenceIn solar-terrestrial terms, a prominence displaying material motion and changes
in appearance over a few minutes of time.Active Prominence Region (APR)In solar-terrestrial terms, a portion of the solar limb displaying active prominences.Active Region (AR)In solar-terrestrial terms, a localized, transient volume of the solar atmosphere in which plages, sunspots, faculae, flares, etc. may be observed.Active Storage CapacityIn hydrologic terms, the total amount of reservoir capacity normally available for release from a reservoir below the maximum storage level. It is total or reservoir capacity minus inactive storage capacity. More specifically, it is the volume of water between the outlet works and the spillway crest. Active Surge Region (ASR)In solar-terrestrial terms, an Active Region that exhibits a group or
series of spike-like surges that rise above the limb.ACTVActive. In solar-terrestrial terms, solar activity levels with at least one geophysical event or
several larger radio events (10cm) per day (Class M Flares)ACYCAnticyclone - A large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure, clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.AdiabaticChanges in temperature caused by the expansion (cooling) or compression (warming) of a body of air as it rises or descends in the atmosphere, with no exchange of heat with the surrounding air.Adiabatic Lapse RateThe rate of decrease of temperature experienced by a parcel of air when it is lifted in the atmosphere under the restriction that it cannot exchange heat with its environment. For parcels that remain unsaturated during lifting, the (dry adiabatic) lapse rate is 9.8°C per kilometer.Adiabatic ProcessA process which occurs with no exchange of heat between a system and its environment.Adirondack Type Snow Sampling SetIn hydrologic terms, a snow sampler consisting of a 5-foot fiberglass tube, 3 inches in diameter, with a serrated-edge steel cutter at one end and a twisting handle at the other. This sampler has a 60-inch snow depth capacity. ADPCAcoustic Doppler Current ProfilerAdvanced Baseline Imager (ABI)A moderate resolution imaging system on the GOES and Himawari family of satellites.Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS)A web-based suite of accurate and information-rich forecast products. They display the magnitude and uncertainty of occurrence of floods or droughts, from hours to days and months in advance. These graphical products are useful information and planning tools for many economic and emergency managers.ADVCTNAdvection- Transport of an atmospheric property by the wind.Advection(Abbrev. ADVCTN)- Transport of an atmospheric property by the wind.Advection FogA fog that forms when warm air flows over a cold surface and cools from below until saturation is reached.AFCTAffectAGCAutomatic Gain Control Alaska CurrentA North Pacific Ocean current flowing counterclockwise in the Gulf of Alaska. It is the northward flowing (warm) division of the Aleutian CurrentAlberta ClipperA fast moving low pressure system that moves southeast out of Canadian Province of Alberta (southwest Canada) through the Plains, Midwest, and Great Lakes region usually during the winter. This low pressure area is usually accompanied by light snow, strong winds, and colder temperatures. Another variation of the same system is called a "Saskatchewan Screamer".Aleutian CurrentAn eastward flowing North Pacific Ocean current which lies north of the North Pacific Current. AltocumulusA cloud of a class characterized by globular masses or rolls in layers or patches, the individual elements being larger and darker than those of cirrocumulus and smaller than those of stratocumulus. These clouds are of medium altitude, about 8000-20,000 ft (2400-6100 m).AnabranchA diverging branch of a river which re-enters the main stream.Anchor IceIn hydrologic terms, submerged frazil ice attached or anchored to the river bottom, irrespective of its formation.Anchor Ice DamAn accumulation of anchor ice which acts as a dam and raises the water level.Angle of ReflectionThe angle at which a reflected ray of energy leaves a reflecting surface. It is measured between the outgoing ray and a perpendicular to the surface at the point of incidence (i.e., where the ray strikes).Annual Exceedance Probability (AEP)The probability that a stream reach will have a flow of a certain magnitude in any given year.Antedecent Precipitation Index(Abbrev. API) - an index of moisture stored within a drainage basin before a storm.Anthropogenic SourceA pollutant source caused or produced by humans.AnticyclogenesisThe formation or intensification of an anticyclone or high pressure center.AnticycloneA large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of high atmospheric pressure, clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, counterclockwise in the Southern HemisphereAnticyclonic RotationRotation in the opposite sense as the Earth's rotation, i.e., clockwise in the Northern Hemisphere as would be seen from above. The opposite of cyclonic rotation.Antilles CurrentA current which originates in the vicinity of the Leeward Islands as part of the Atlantic North Equatorial Current.Anvil Crawler[Slang], a lightning discharge occurring within the anvil of a thunderstorm, characterized by one or more channels that appear to crawl along the underside of the anvil. They typically appear during the weakening or dissipating stage of the parent thunderstorm, or during an active MCS.APRCHApproachAPRCHGapproachingAquicludeIn hydrologic terms, a formation which contains water but cannot transmit it rapidly enough to furnish a significant supply to a well or spring.Arch DamA concrete arch dam is used in sites where the ratio of width between abutments to height is not great and where the foundation at the abutments is solid rock capable of resisting great forces. The arch provides resistance to movement. When combined with the weight of concrete (arch-gravity dam), both the weight and shape of the structure provide great resistance to the pressure of water.Arch Filament System (AFS)In solar-terrestrial terms, a bright, compact plage crossed by a system of
small, arched filaments, which is often a sign of rapid or continued growth in an Active Region.ArcticThe region within the Arctic Circle, or, loosely, northern regions in general, characterized by very low temperatures.Arctic frontThe boundary or front separating deep, cold arctic air from shallower, relatively less cold polar air.Arctic Oscillation(abbrev. AO)- The Arctic Oscillation is a pattern in which atmospheric pressure at polar and middle latitudes fluctuates between negative and positive phases. The negative phase brings higher-than-normal pressure over the polar region and lower-than-normal pressure at about 45 degrees north latitude. The negative phase allows cold air to plunge into the Midwestern United States and western Europe, and storms bring rain to the Mediterranean. The positive phase brings the opposite conditions, steering ocean storms farther north and bringing wetter weather to Alaska, Scotland and Scandinavia and drier conditions to areas such as California, Spain and the Middle East. In recent years research has shown, the Arctic Oscillation has been mostly in its positive phase. Some researchers argue that the North Atlantic Oscillation is in fact part of the AO.Arctic Sea SmokeSteam fog, but often specifically applied to steam fog rising from small open water within sea ice. ArcusA low, horizontal cloud formation associated with the leading edge of thunderstorm outflow (i.e., the gust front). Roll clouds and shelf clouds both are types of arcus clouds.Area Forecast DiscussionThis National Weather Service product is intended to provide a well-reasoned discussion of the meteorological thinking which went into the preparation of the Zone Forecast Product. The forecaster will try to focus on the most particular challenges of the forecast. The text will be written in plain language or in proper contractions. At the end of the discussion, there will be a list of all advisories, non-convective watches, and non-convective warnings. The term non-convective refers to weather that is not caused by thunderstorms. An intermediate Area Forecast Discussion will be issued when either significant forecast updates are being made or if interesting weather is expected to occur.Area Hydrologic Discussion (AHD)A short range, episodic, discussion and graphic which highlights locations across the nation that may be impacted by rapid-onset flooding, using National Water Model and other guidance.Area of InfluenceIn hydrologic terms, the area covered by the drawdown curves of a given pumping well or combination of wells at a particular time. Area SourceAn array of pollutant sources, so widely dispersed and uniform in strength that they can be treated in a dispersion model as an aggregate pollutant release from a defined area at a uniform rate. Compare line source and point source.Area Wide Hydrologic Prediction System(Abbrev. AWHPS) - A computer system which automatically ingests areal flash flood guidance values and WSR-88D products and displays this data and other hydrologic information on a map background.Area-Capacity CurveIn hydrologic terms, a graph showing the relation between the surface area of the water in a reservoir, the corresponding volume, and elevation. ARINCAeronautical Radio, IncorporatedARTCCAir Route Traffic Control CenterArtificial ControlIn hydrologic terms, a weir or other man-made structure which serves as the control for a stream-gaging station. ASSOCIATED PRINCIPAL USERA Principal User with dedicated communications to a WSR-88D unit.Astronomical DawnThe time at which the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon in the morning. Astronomical dawn is that point in time at which the sun starts lightening the sky. Prior to this time during the morning, the sky is completely dark.Astronomical DuskThis is the time at which the sun is 18 degrees below the horizon in the evening. At this time the sun no longer illuminates the sky.Astronomical Unit(abbrev. AU)- The mean earth-sun distance, equal to 1.496x1013 cm, or 214.94 solar radii.ATCAir Traffic ControlATDTDCSAutomated Tone Dial Telephone Data Collection System - Data collection system where cooperative observers collect precipitation, stage, and temperature data then transmit the data to the NWS ATDTDCS computer through the telephone lines. The ATDTDCS computer transmits the data to AFOS. Atmospheric Boundary LayerSame as Boundary Layer - in general, a layer of air adjacent to a bounding surface. Specifically, the term most often refers to the planetary boundary layer, which is the layer within which the effects of friction are significant. For the earth, this layer is considered to be roughly the lowest one or two kilometers of the atmosphere. It is within this layer that temperatures are most strongly affected by daytime insolation and nighttime radiational cooling, and winds are affected by friction with the earth's surface. The effects of friction die out gradually with height, so the "top" of this layer cannot be defined exactly.Atmospheric Circulation ModelA mathematical model for quantitatively describing, simulating, and analyzing the structure of the circulation in the atmosphere and the underlying causes. Sometimes referred to as Atmospheric General Circulation Models or AGCMs.Atmospheric PressureThe pressure exerted by the earth's atmosphere at any given point, determined by taking the product of the gravitational acceleration at the point and the mass of the unit area column of air above the point.Atmospheric RadiationInfrared radiation (energy in the wavelength interval of 3- 80 micrometer) emitted by or being propagated through the atmosphere. It consists of both upwelling and downwelling components. Compare with terrestrial radiation.Automated Surface Observing SystemThe ASOS program is a joint effort of the National Weather Service (NWS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Defense (DOD). Completed in the mid-1990s, the ASOS systems serve as the nation's primary surface weather observing network. ASOS is designed to support weather forecast activities and aviation operations and, at the same time, support the needs of the meteorological, hydrological, and climatological research communities.AUTOMATIC GAIN CONTROLAny method of automatically controlling the gain of a receiver, particularly one that holds the output level constant regardless of the input level.AvalancheA mass of snow, rock, and/or ice falling down a mountain or incline. In practice, it usually refers to the snow avalanche. In the United States, the term snow slide is commonly used to mean a snow avalanche.Avalanche AdvisoryA preliminary notification that conditions may be favorable for the development of avalanches in mountain regions.AWCAviation Weather CenterAzores CurrentOne of the currents of the North Atlantic subtropical gyre.
Back Door Cold FrontA cold front moving south or southwest along the Atlantic seaboard and Great Lakes; these are especially common during the spring months.Back-building ThunderstormA thunderstorm in which new development takes place on the upwind side (usually the west or southwest side), such that the storm seems to remain stationary or propagate in a backward direction.Back-sheared Anvil [Slang], a thunderstorm anvil which spreads upwind, against the flow aloft. A
back-sheared anvil often implies a very strong updraft and a high severe weather potential.BackfireA fire started to stop an advancing fire by creating a burned area in its path.
BackflowIn hydrologic terms, the backing up of water through a conduit or channel in the direction opposite to normal flow. Backing(abbrev. BCKG)- A counterclockwise shift in wind direction (for example, south winds shifting to the east).Backing WindsWinds which shift in a counterclockwise direction with time at a given location (e.g. from southerly to southeasterly), or change direction in a counterclockwise sense with height (e.g. westerly at the surface but becoming more southerly aloft). The opposite of veering winds.
In storm spotting, a backing wind usually refers to the turning of a south or southwest surface wind with time to a more east or southeasterly direction. Backing of the surface wind can increase the potential for tornado development by increasing the directional shear at low levels.BackscatterThe portion of power scattered back in the incident direction.BacksightIn hydrologic terms, a rod reading taken on a point of known elevation, a benchmark or a turning point. Backsights are added to the known elevation to arrive at the height of the instrument. With a known height of the instrument, the telescope can be used to determine the elevation of other points in the vicinity.Backwater CurveIn hydrologic terms, the longitudinal profile of the surface of a liquid in a non-uniform flow in an open channel, when the water surface is not parallel to the invert owing to the depth of water having been increased by the interposition of an obstruction such as a dam or weir. The term is sometimes used in a generic sense to denote all water surface profiles; or for profiles where the water is flowing at depths greater than the critical.Backwater EffectIn hydrologic terms, the effect which a dam or other obstruction has in raising the surface of the water upstream from it.Backwater FloodingHydrologic terms, upstream flooding caused by downstream conditions such as channel restriction and/or high flow in a downstream confluence stream.Banner CloudA cloud plume often observed to extend downwind behind isolated mountain peaks, even on otherwise cloud-free days.Baroclinic leaf shieldA cloud pattern on satellite images - frequently
noted in advance of formation of a low pressure center.Baroclinic ZoneA region in which a temperature gradient exists on a constant pressure surface. Baroclinic zones are favored areas for strengthening and weakening systems; barotropic systems, on the other hand, do not exhibit significant changes in intensity. Also, wind shear is characteristic of a baroclinic zone.BaroclinityA measure of the state of stratification in a fluid in which surfaces of constant pressure (isobaric) intersect surfaces of constant density (isosteric).Barometric PressureThe pressure of the atmosphere as indicated by a barometer.Barotropic SystemA weather system in which temperature and pressure surfaces are coincident, i.e., temperature is uniform (no temperature gradient) on a constant pressure surface. Barotropic systems are characterized by a lack of wind shear, and thus are generally unfavorable areas for severe thunderstorm development. See baroclinic zone.
Usually, in operational meteorology, references to barotropic systems refer to equivalent barotropic systems - systems in which temperature gradients exist, but are parallel to height gradients on a constant pressure surface. In such systems, height contours and isotherms are parallel everywhere, and winds do not change direction with height.
As a rule, a true equivalent barotropic system can never be achieved in the real atmosphere. While some systems (such as closed lows or cutoff lows) may reach a state that is close to equivalent barotropic, the term barotropic system usually is used in a relative sense to describe systems that are really only close to being equivalent barotropic, i.e., isotherms and height contours are nearly parallel everywhere and directional wind shear is weak.BASE PRODUCTSThose products that present some representation of the base data. This representation may not necessarily be either in full resolution or depict the full area of coverage. Base products can be used to generate a graphic display or further processing. Base ReflectivityBase Reflectivity is the default image. Taken from the lowest (½° elevation) slice, it is the primary image used to "see what's out there". There are two versions of Base Reflectivity image; the short range version which extends out to 124 nautical miles (143 statute miles/230 kilometers) and the long range version which extends out to 248 nautical miles (285 statute miles/460 kilometers). This image is available upon completion of the ½° elevation scan during each volume scanBasin RechargeIn hydrologic terms, rainfall that adds to the residual moisture of the basin in order to help recharge the water deficit. i.e; water absorbed into the soil that does not take the form of direct runoff.BCKGBacking- A counterclockwise shift in wind direction (for example, south winds shifting to the east).BCMBecomeBCMNGBecomingBeach ErosionThe movement of beach materials by some combination of high waves, currents and tides, or wind.Bear's Cage[Slang], a region of storm-scale rotation, in a thunderstorm, which is wrapped in heavy
precipitation. This area often coincides with a radar hook echo and/or mesocyclone, especially one
associated with an HP storm.
The term reflects the danger involved in observing such an area visually, which must be done at close range
in low visibility.Beaufort ScaleThe Beaufort wind scale is a system used to estimate and report wind speeds when no measuring apparatus is available. It was invented in the early 19th Century by Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort of the British Navy as a way to interpret winds from conditions at sea. Since that time, the scale has been modernized for effects on land.
Beaufort Force 0 - Wind less than 1 kt, Calm, Sea surface smooth and mirror-like. Smoke rises vertically.
Beaufort Force 1 - Wind 1-3 kt, Light Air, Scaly ripples, no foam crests. Smoke drift indicates wind direction, still wind vanes.
Beaufort Force 2 - Wind 4-6 kt, Light Breeze, Small wavelets, crests glassy, no breaking waves. Wind felt on face, leaves rustle, vanes begin to move.
Beaufort Force 3 - Wind 7-10 kt, Gentle Breeze, Large wavelets, crests begin to break, scattered whitecaps. Leaves and small twigs constantly moving, light flags extended.
Beaufort Force 4 - Winds 11-16 kt, Moderate Breeze, Small waves 1 -4 ft. becoming longer, numerous whitecaps. Dust, leaves, and loose paper lifted, small tree branches move.
Beaufort Force 5 - Winds 17-21 kt, Fresh Breeze, Moderate waves 4 -8 ft taking longer form, many whitecaps, some spray. Small trees in leaf begin to sway.
Beaufort Force 6 - Winds 22-27 kt, Strong Breeze, Larger waves 8 -13 ft, whitecaps common, more spray. Larger tree branches moving, whistling in wires.
Beaufort Force 7 - Winds 28-33 kt, Near Gale, Sea heaps up, waves 13 -20 ft, white foam streaks off breakers. Whole trees moving, resistance felt walking against wind.
Beaufort Force 8 - Winds 34-40 kt Gale, Moderately high (13 -20 ft) waves of greater length, edges of crests begin to break into spindrift, foam blown in streaks. Whole trees in motion, resistance felt walking against wind.
Beaufort Force 9 - Winds 41-47 kt, Strong Gale, High waves (20 ft), sea begins to roll, dense streaks of foam, spray may reduce visibility. Slight structural damage occurs, slate blows off roofs.
Beaufort Force 10 - Winds 48-55 kt, Storm, Very high waves (20 -30 ft) with overhanging crests, sea white densely blown foam, heavy rolling, lowered visibility. Seldom experienced on land, trees broken or uprooted, "considerable structural damage".
Beaufort Force 11 - Winds 56-63 kt, Violent Storm, Exceptionally high (30 -45 ft) waves, foam patches cover sea, visibility more reduced.
Beaufort Force 12 -Winds 64+ kt, Hurricane, Air filled with foam, waves over 45 ft, sea completely white with driving spray, visibility greatly reduced.
Benchmark(Abbrev. BM) - In hydrologic terms, a permanent point whose known elevation is tied to a national network. These points are created to serve as a point of reference. Benchmarks have generally been established by the USGS, but may have been established by other Federal or local agencies. Benchmarks can be found on USGS maps.Bergeron ProcessThe process by which ice crystals in a cloud grow at the expense of supercooled liquid water droplets.Best TrackA subjectively-smoothed representation of a tropical cyclone's location and intensity
over its lifetime. The best track contains the cyclone's latitude, longitude, maximum
sustained surface winds, and minimum sea-level pressure at 6-hourly intervals.
Best track positions and intensities, which are based on a post-storm assessment
of all available data, may differ from values contained in storm advisories. They also
generally will not reflect the erratic motion implied by connecting individual center fix
positions.Billow CloudA cloud consisting of broad parallel bands oriented perpendicular to the wind.BINOVCBreaks in OvercastBlack Ice1. Slang reference to patchy ice on roadways or other transportation surfaces that cannot easily be seen.
2. In hydrologic terms, transparent ice formed in rivers and lakes.BlackbodyA hypothetical "body" that absorbs all of the electromagnetic radiation striking it - it does not reflect or transmit any of the incident radiation. A blackbody not only absorbs all wavelengths, but emits at all wavelengths with the maximum possible intensity for any given temperature.Blackbody RadiationThe electromagnetic radiation emitted by an ideal blackbody adhering to the radiation laws; it is the theoretical maximum amount of electromagnetic radiation of all wavelengths that can be emitted by a body at a given temperature.Blocked FlowFlow approaching a mountain barrier that is too weak or too stable to be carried over the barrier.Blue Watch or Blue Box[Slang], a severe thunderstorm watch.Border IceIn hydrologic terms, an ice sheet in the form of a long border attached to the bank or shore.; shore ice. Bounded Weak Echo Region (BWER)(Also known as a vault.) Radar signature within a
thunderstorm characterized by a local minimum in radar reflectivity at low levels which extends
upward into, and is surrounded by, higher reflectivities aloft. This feature is associated with
a strong updraft and is almost always found in the inflow region of a thunderstorm. It cannot be seen
visually.BOVCBase of OvercastBow EchoA radar echo which is linear but bent outward in a bow shape. Damaging straight-line winds often occur near the "crest" or center of a bow echo. Areas of circulation also can develop at either end of a bow echo, which sometimes can lead to tornado formation - especially in the left (usually northern) end, where the circulation exhibits cyclonic rotation.Brackish IceIn hydrologic terms, ice formed from brackish water.Brash IceIn hydrologic terms, accumulation of floating ice made up of fragments not more than 2 meters across; the wreckage of other forms of ice. BreachIn hydrologic terms, the failed opening in a dam.Brocken SpecterAn optical phenomenon sometimes occurring at high altitudes when the image of an observer placed between the sun and a cloud is projected on the cloud as a greatly magnified shadow. The shadow's head is surrounded by rings of color, called a glory.Bulk Richardson NumberA non-dimensional (i.e., no units) number relating vertical stability to vertical shear (generally, stability divided by shear). High values indicate unstable and/or weakly-sheared environments; low values indicate weak instability and/or strong vertical shear. Generally, values in the range of around 50 to 100 suggest environmental conditions favorable for supercell development.BuoyancyThe tendency of a body to float or to rise when submerged in a fluid; the power of a fluid to exert an upward force on a body placed in it.C1. Degrees Celsius (°C)
2. CentralC AMSContinental Air MassCACloud-to-Air lightning.CAACold Air AdvectionCADCold Air Damming. The phenomenon in which a low-level cold air mass is trapped topographically. Often, this cold air is entrenched on the east side of mountainous terrain. Cold Air Damming often implies that the trapped cold air mass is influencing the dynamics of the overlying air mass, e.g. in an overrunning scenario.
Effects on the weather may include cold temperatures, freezing precipitation, and extensive cloud coverCADASCentralized Automated Data Acquisition System - a system of two minicomputers in NWSH.CalibrationIn hydrologic terms, the process of using historical data to estimate parameters in a hydrologic forecast technique such as SACSMA, routings, and unit hydrographs.CalmA weather condition when no air motion (wind) is detected.Canyon WindA foehn wind that is channeled through a canyon as it descends the lee side of a mountain barrier.Cap(also called "Lid") A layer of relatively warm air aloft, usually several thousand feet above the ground, which suppresses or delays the development of thunderstorms. Air parcels rising into this layer become cooler than the surrounding air, which inhibits their ability to rise further and produce thunderstorms. As such, the cap often prevents or delays thunderstorm development even in the presence of extreme instability. However, if the cap is removed or weakened, then explosive thunderstorm development can occur.
The cap is an important ingredient in most severe thunderstorm episodes, as it serves to separate warm, moist air below and cooler, drier air above. With the cap in place, air below it can continue to warm and/or moisten, thus increasing the amount of potential instability. Or, air above it can cool, which also increases potential instability. But without a cap, either process (warming/moistening at low levels or cooling aloft) results in a faster release of available instability - often before instability levels become large enough to support severe weather development.Cap CloudA stationary cloud directly above an isolated mountain peak, with cloud base below the elevation of the peak.CAPEConvective Available Potential Energy. A measure of the amount of energy available for convection. CAPE is directly related to the maximum potential vertical speed within an updraft; thus, higher values indicate greater potential for severe weather. Observed values in thunderstorm environments often may exceed 1000 joules per kilogram (J/kg), and in extreme cases may exceed 5000 J/kg.
However, as with other indices or indicators, there are no threshold values above which severe weather becomes imminent. CAPE is represented on an upper air sounding by the area enclosed between the environmental temperature profile and the path of a rising air parcel, over the layer within which the latter is warmer than the former. (This area often is called positive area.) See also CIN.CapillarityIn hydrologic terms,
1.The degree to which a material or object containing minute openings or passages, when immersed in a liquid, will draw the surface of the liquid above the hydrostatic level. Unless otherwise defined, the liquid is generally assumed to be water.
2. The phenomenon by which water is held in interstices above the normal hydrostatic level, due to attraction between water molecules. Capillary FringeIn hydrologic terms, the soil area just above the water table where water can rise up slightly through the cohesive force of capillary action. This layer ranges in depth from a couple of inches, to a few feet, and it depends on the pore sizes of the materials. The capillary fringe is also called the capillary zone.Capillary WavesWaves caused by the initial wind stress on the water surface causes what are known as capillary waves. These have a wavelength of less than 1.73 cm, and the force that tries to restore them to equilibrium is the cohesion of the individual molecules. Capillary waves are important in starting the process of energy transfer from the air to the water. Capillary ZoneUsed interchangably with Capillary Fringe; the soil area just above the water table where water can rise up slightly through the cohesive force of capillary action. This layer ranges in depth from a couple of inches, to a few feet, and it depends on the pore sizes of the materials.CappingA region of negative buoyancy below an existing level of free convection (LFC) where energy must be supplied to the parcel to maintain its ascent.
This tends to inhibit the development of convection until some physical mechanism can lift a parcel to its LFC. The intensity of the cap is measured by its convective inhibition. The term capping inversion is sometimes used, but an inversion is not necessary for the conditions producing convective inhibition to exist.Capping InversionAlternate term for Cap; a layer of relatively warm air aloft, usually several thousand feet above the ground, which suppresses or delays the development of thunderstorms. Air parcels rising into this layer become cooler than the surrounding air, which inhibits their ability to rise further and produce thunderstorms. As such, the cap often prevents or delays thunderstorm development even in the presence of extreme instability. However, if the cap is removed or weakened, then explosive thunderstorm development can occur.
The cap is an important ingredient in most severe thunderstorm episodes, as it serves to separate warm, moist air below and cooler, drier air above. With the cap in place, air below it can continue to warm and/or moisten, thus increasing the amount of potential instability. Or, air above it can cool, which also increases potential instability. But without a cap, either process (warming/moistening at low levels or cooling aloft) results in a faster release of available instability - often before instability levels become large enough to support severe weather development.CAPSCenter for Analysis and Prediction of StormsCarbon DioxideCO2; a colorless and odorless gas which is the fourth most abundant constituent of dry air.Carrington LongitudeA system of fixed longitudes rotating with the sunCatalina EddyA Catalina Eddy (coastal eddy) forms when upper level large-scale flow off Point Conception interacts with the complex topography of the Southern California coastline. As a result, a counter clockwise circulating low pressure area forms with its center in the vicinity of Catalina Island. This formation is accompanied by a southerly shift in coastal winds, a rapid increase in the depth of the marine layer, and a thickening of the coastal stratus. Predominately these eddies occur between April and September with a peak in June. A typical Catalina eddy will allow coastal low clouds and fog to persist into the afternoon. A strong Catalina eddy may extend to 6000 feet and these clouds will move through the inland valleys and reach as far as Palmdale.Catchment AreaIn hydrologic terms, an area having a common outlet for its surface runoff (also see Drainage Area or Basin, Watershed).CategoricalA National Weather Service precipitation descriptor for a 80, 90, or 100 percent chance of measurable precipitation (0.01 inch). See Precipitation Probability (PoP)Caution StageThe stage which, when reached by a rising stream, represents the level where appropriate officials (e.g., county sheriff, civil defense officials, or bypass gate operators) are notified of the threat of possible flooding. Alert stage or caution stage are used instead of caution stage in some parts of the country.CAVUClear or Scattered Clouds (visibility greater than 10 mi.)CbCumulonimbus cloud, characterized by strong vertical development in the form of mountains or huge towers topped at least partially by a smooth, flat, often fibrous anvil. Also known colloquially as a "thunderhead."CBMAMCumulonimbus MammaCCCloud-to-Cloud LightningCCITTConsultative Committee for International Telephone and TelegraphCCLConvective Condensation Level- The level in the atmosphere to which an air parcel, if heated from below, will rise dry adiabatically, without
becoming colder than its environment just before the parcel becomes saturated. See Lifted Condensation Level
(LCL).CDcoldCDBComputing Development Branch (NCEP)
CDCClimate Diagnostic Center, the mission of the Climate Diagnostics Center (CDC) is to advance national capabilities to interpret the causes of observed climate variations, and to apply this knowledge to improve climate models and forecasts and develop new climate products that better serve the needs of the public and decision-makers.CDDCooling Degree Days- A form of degree day used to estimate energy requirements for air conditioning or refrigeration. Typically,
cooling degree days are calculated as how much warmer the mean temperature at a location is than 65°F on a
given day. For example, if a location experiences a mean temperature of 75°F on a certain day, there were 10
CDD (Cooling Degree Days) that day because 75 - 65 = 10.CDFNTCold FrontCDTCentral Daylight TimeCeiling(Abbrev. CIG) - The height of the cloud base for the lowest broken or overcast cloud layer. CeilometerA device using a laser or other light source to determine the height of a cloud base. An optical ceilometer uses triangulation to determine the height of a spot of light projected onto the base of the cloud; a laser ceilometer determines the height by measuring the time required for a pulse of light to be scattered back from the cloud base.CellConvection in the form of a single updraft, downdraft, or updraft/downdraft couplet, typically seen as a vertical dome or tower as in a towering cumulus cloud. A typical thunderstorm consists of several cells.
The term "cell" also is used to describe the radar echo returned by an individual shower or thunderstorm. Such usage, although common, is technically incorrect.CelsiusThe standard scale used to measure temperature in most areas outside the United States. On this scale, the freezing point of water is 0°F and the boiling point is 100°F. To convert a Fahrenheit temperature to Celsius, subtract 32 from it and then multiply by 5/9:
°C = (°F - 32) * 5/9 CEMCivil Emergency Message. A message issued by the National Weather Service in coordination with Federal, state or local government to warn the
general public of a non-weather related time-critical emergency which threatens life or property, e.g. nuclear accident, toxic chemical spill, etcCenterGenerally speaking, the vertical axis of a tropical cyclone, usually defined by the
location of minimum wind or minimum pressure. The cyclone center position can
vary with altitude. In advisory products, refers to the center position at the surface.Centimeter BurstA solar radio burst in the centimeter wavelength range.Central Meridian Passage (CMP)In solar-terrestrial terms, the passage of an Active Region or other
feature across the longitude meridian that passes through the
apparent center of the solar disk.CENTROIDThe center of mass of a storm.CFCChlorofluorocarbonCFPCold Front PassageCFSIn hydrologic terms, Cubic Feet per Second - the flow rate or discharge equal to one cubic foot (of water, usually) per second. This rate is equivalent to approximately 7.48 gallons per second. This is also referred to as a second-foot. Cfs-DayIn hydrologic terms, the volume of water discharged in twenty four hours, with a flow of one cubic foot per second is widely used; 1 cfs-day is 24 x 60 x 60 = 86,000 cubic feet, 1.983471 acre-feet, or 646,317 gallons. The average flow in cubic feet per second for any time period is the volume of flow in cfs-days.CGCloud-to-Ground LightningChanceA National Weather Service precipitation descriptor for 30, 40, or 50 percent chance of measurable precipitation (0.01 inch). When the precipitation is convective in nature, the
term scattered is used. See Precipitation Probability (PoP). ChannelIn hydrologic terms, also known as Watercourse; an open conduit either naturally or artificially created which periodically, or continuously contains moving water, or forms a connecting link between two bodies of water. River, creek, run, branch, anabranch, and tributary are some of the terms used to describe natural channels. Natural channels may be single or braided. Canal and floodway are some of the terms used to describe artificial channels.Channel InflowIn hydrologic terms, water, which at any instant, is flowing into the channel system form surface flow, subsurface flow, base flow, and rainfall that has directly fallen onto the channel.Channel LeadIn hydrologic terms, an elongated opening in the ice cover caused by a water current.Channel RoutingIn hydrologic terms, the process of determining progressively timing and shape of the flood wave at successive points along a river.Channeled High WindsIn mountainous areas or in cities with tall buildings, air may be channeled through constricted passages producing high winds. Santa Ana winds and winds through passes from the cold Alaskan interior to the sea are examples of these winds. Channeled high winds are local in nature but can be extremely strong. These winds generally occur in well-defined areas.ChannelizationIn hydrologic terms, the modification of a natural river channel; may include deepening, widening, or straightening.CHCChanceChemistry ModelA computer model used in air pollution investigations that simulates chemical and photochemical reactions of the pollutants during their transport and diffusion.CHGChangeCHGSchangesChinookThis is a region-specific term used for Foehn Winds in the lee of the Rocky Mountains in the United States; Foehn Winds are warm, dry winds that occur in the lee of high mountain ranges. It is a fairly common wintertime phenomena in the mountainous west and in parts of Alaska. These winds develop in well-defined areas and can be quite strong.Chinook ArchA foehn cloud formation appearing as a bank of altostratus clouds east of the Rocky Mountains, heralding the approach of a chinook. It forms in the rising portion of standing waves on the lee side of the mountains. An observer underneath or east of the cloud sees an arch of clear air between the cloud's leading edge and the mountains below. The cloud appears to converge with the mountains to the north and south due to a perspective effect.Chlorofluorocarbons(CFCs) - Manufactured substances used as coolants and computer-chip cleaners. When these products break down they destroy stratospheric ozone, creating the Antarctic Ozone Hole in the Southern Hemisphere spring (Northern Hemisphere autumn). While no longer in use, their long lifetime will lead to a very slow removal from the atmosphere.ChromosphereIn solar-terrestrial terms, the layer of the solar atmosphere above the photosphere and
beneath the transition region and the corona.Chromospheric EventsIn solar-terrestrial terms, flares that are just Chromospheric Events without Centimetric Bursts or Ionospheric Effects. (SID) (Class C flare)CICirrus clouds- High-level clouds (16,000 feet or higher), composed of ice crystals and appearing in the form of white, delicate
filaments or white or mostly white patches or narrow bands. Cirrus clouds typically have a fibrous or hairlike
appearance, and often are semi-transparent. Thunderstorm anvils are a form of cirrus cloud, but most cirrus
clouds are not associated with thunderstorms.CIGCeiling- The height of the lowest layer of clouds, when the sky is broken or overcast.CINConvective INhibition. A measure of the amount of energy needed in order to initiate convection. Values of CIN typically reflect the strength of the cap. They are obtained on a sounding by computing the area enclosed between the environmental temperature profile and the path of a rising air parcel, over the layer within which the latter is cooler than the former. (This area sometimes is called negative area.) See CAPE.CIOChief Information OfficerCirculationThe flow, or movement, of a fluid (e.g., water or air) in or through a given area or volume.CirriformHigh altitude ice clouds with a very thin wispy appearance.CirrocumulusA cirriform cloud characterized by thin, white patches, each of which is composed of very small granules or ripples. These clouds are of high altitude (20,000-40,000 ft or 6000 -12,000 m).CirrostratusA cloud of a class characterized by a composition of ice crystals and often by the production of halo phenomena and appearing as a whitish and usually somewhat fibrous veil, often covering the whole sky and sometimes so thin as to be hardly discernible. These clouds are of high altitude (20,000-40,000 ft or 6000 -12,000 m).Cirrus(abbrev. CI) High-level clouds (16,000 feet or higher), composed of ice crystals and appearing in the form of white, delicate filaments or white or mostly white patches or narrow bands. Cirrus clouds typically have a fibrous or hairlike appearance, and often are semi-transparent. Thunderstorm anvils are a form of cirrus cloud, but most cirrus clouds are not associated with thunderstorms.Civil DawnThe time of morning at which the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon. At this time, there is enough light for objects to be distiguishable and that outdoor activities can commence.Civil DuskThe time at which the sun is 6 degrees below the horizon in the evening. At this time objects are distinguishable but there is no longer enough light to perform any outdoor activities. Civil Emergency Message(Abbrev. CEM) - A message issued by the National Weather Service in coordination with Federal, state or local government to warn the general public of a non-weather related time-critical emergency which threatens life or property, e.g. nuclear accident, toxic chemical spill, etc.CLAn abbreviation used on climate outlook maps issued by CPC to indicate areas where equal chances of experiencing below-normal, normal, and above-normal conditions are possible.Class I AreasGeographic areas designated by the Clean Air Act where only a small amount or increment of air quality deterioration is permissible.CLDCloud- A visible aggregate of minute water droplets or ice particles in the atmosphere above the Earth's surface.Clear Air Turbulence(CAT) - In aviation, sudden severe turbulence occurring in cloudless regions that causes violent buffeting of aircraft.Clear IceA thin coating of ice on terrestrial objects, caused by rain that freezes on impact. The ice is relatively transparent, as opposed to rime ice, because of large drop size, rapid accretion of liquid water, or slow dissipation of latent heat of fusion.Clear SlotWith respect to severe thunderstorms, a local region of clearing skies or reduced cloud cover, indicating an intrusion of drier
air; often seen as a bright area with higher cloud bases on the west or southwest side of a wall
cloud. A clear slot is believed to be a visual indication of a rear flank downdraft.Client AgencyAs used in connection with reimbursable National Weather Service (NWS) fire
weather services, a public fire service or wildlands management agency, Federal or non-Federal,
which requires and uses NWS fire and forestry meteorological servicesClimateThe composite or generally prevailing weather conditions of a region, throughout the year, averaged over a series of years.Climate ChangeA non-random change in climate that is measured over several decades or longer. The change may be due to natural or human-induced causes.Climate Diagnostics Bulletin(CDB) - The monthly CPC Bulletin reports on the previous months' status of the ocean-atmosphere climate system and provides various seasonal ENSO-related outlooks. It is issued by the fifteenth of the month.Climate Diagnostics Center(CDC) - The mission of NOAA's Climate Diagnostics Center is to identify the nature and causes for climate variations on time scales ranging from a month to centuries.Climate ModelMathematical model for quantitatively describing, simulating, and analyzing the interactions between the atmosphere and underlying surface (e.g., ocean, land, and ice).Climate OutlookA climate outlook issued by the CPC gives probabilities that conditions, averaged over a specified period, will be below-normal, normal, or above-normal.Climate Prediction CenterThis Center is one of several centers under the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) part of the National Weather Service (NWS) in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Center serves the public by assessing and forecasting the impacts of short-term climate variability, emphasizing enhanced risks of weather-related extreme events, for use in mitigating losses and maximizing economic gains.Climate SystemThe system consisting of the atmosphere (gases), hydrosphere (water), lithosphere (solid rocky part of the Earth), and biosphere (living) that determine the Earth's climate.Climatological OutlookAn outlook based upon climatological statistics for a region, abbreviated as CL on seasonal outlook maps. CL indicates that the climate outlook has an equal chance of being above normal, normal, or below normal.ClimatologyThe science that deals with the phenomena of climates or climatic conditions.CLIMOClimatology/ClimatologicalClimometerAn instrument that measures angles of inclination; used to measure cloud ceiling heights.Closed BasinA basin draining to some depression or pond within its area, from which water is lost only by evaporation or percolation. A basin without a surface outlet for precipitation falling precipitation.Closed Basin Lake FloodingFlooding that occurs on lakes with either no outlet or a relatively small one. Seasonal increases in rainfall cause the lake level to rise faster than it can drain. The water may stay at flood stage for weeks, months, or years.Closed LowA low pressure area with a distinct center of cyclonic circulation which can be completely encircled by one or more isobars or height contour lines. The term usually is used to distinguish a low pressure area aloft from a low-pressure trough. Closed lows aloft typically are partially or completely detached from the main westerly current, and thus move relatively slowly (see Cutoff Low).Cloud(abbrev. CLD) A visible aggregate of minute water droplets or ice particles in the atmosphere above the Earth's surface.Cloud CeilingSame as Ceiling; the height of the cloud base for the lowest broken or overcast cloud layer. Cloud Condensation NucleiSmall particles in the air on which water vapor condenses and forms cloud droplets.Cloud LayerAn array of clouds whose bases are at approximately the same level.Cloud MovementThe direction toward which a cloud is movingCloud StreetsRows of cumulus or cumulus-type clouds aligned parallel to the low-level flow. Cloud streets sometimes can be seen from the ground, but are seen best on satellite photographs.Cloud TagsRagged, detached cloud fragments; fractus or scud.CloudyWhen 7/8ths or more of the sky is covered by clouds.CLRClearCLRGClearingClutterRadar echoes that interfere with observation of desired signals on the radar display.cmCentimeterCMCombined Moment CMPLTCompleteCMPLXComplexCNIFIn hydrologic terms, Calibration Network Information Files.CNTRCenterCNTRLCentralCNVGConvergeCNVTVConvectiveCoalescenceThe process by which water droplets in a cloud collide and come together to form raindrops.Coastal FloodingFlooding which occurs when water is driven onto land from an adjacent body of water. This generally occurs when there are significant storms, such as tropical and extratropical cyclones.Coastal WatersIncludes the area from a line approximating the mean high water along the mainland or island as far out as 100 nautical miles including the bays, harbors and sounds.Coastal Waters Forecast (CWF)The marine forecast for areas, including bays, harbors, and sounds, from a line approximating the mean high water mark (average height of high water over a 19-year period) along the mainland or near shore islands extending out to as much as 100 NM.
Coastal/Lakeshore Flood AdvisoryMinor flooding is possible (i.e., over and above normal high tide levels. Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Advisories are issued using the Coastal/Lakeshore Hazard Message (CFW) product. Coastal/Lakeshore Flood WarningFlooding that will pose a serious threat to life and property is occurring, imminent or highly likely. Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Warnings are issued using the Coastal/Lakeshore Hazard Message (CFW) product.Coastal/Lakeshore Flood WatchFlooding with significant impacts is possible. Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Watches are issued using the Coastal/Lakeshore Hazard Message (CFW) product.Coastal/Lakeshore Flooding(i) (Oceanic) Coastal Flooding is the inundation of land areas caused by sea waters over and above normal tidal action. This flooding may impact the immediate oceanfront, gulfs, bays, back bays, sounds, and tidal portions of river mouths and inland tidal waterways. (ii) Lakeshore Flooding is the inundation of land areas adjacent to one of the Great Lakes caused by lake water exceeding normal levels. Lakeshore flooding impacts the immediate lakefront, bays, and the interfaces of lakes and connecting waterways, such as rivers.COEIn hydrologic terms, Corps of Engineers.Coherent RadarA radar that utilizes both signal phase and amplitude to determine target characteristics.Cold AdvectionTransport of cold air into a region by horizontal winds.Cold Air AvalancheDownslope flow pulsations that occur at more or less regular intervals as cold air builds up on a peak or plateau, reaches a critical mass, and then cascades down the slopes.Cold Air DamA shallow cold air mass which is carried up the slope of a mountain barrier, but with insufficient strength to surmount the barrier. The cold air, trapped upwind of the barrier alters the effective terrain configuration of the barrier to larger-scale approaching flows.Cold Air Damming (CAD)The phenomenon in which a low-level cold air mass is trapped topographically. Often, this cold air is entrenched on the east side of mountainous terrain. Cold Air Damming often implies that the trapped cold air mass is influencing the dynamics of the overlying air mass, e.g. in an overrunning scenario.
Effects on the weather may include cold temperatures, freezing precipitation, and extensive cloud coverCold Air FunnelA funnel cloud or (rarely) a small, relatively weak tornado that can develop from a small shower or thunderstorm when the air aloft is unusually cold (hence the name). They are much less violent than other types of tornadoes.Cold FrontA zone separating two air masses, of which the cooler, denser mass is advancing and replacing the warmer.
Cold OcclusionA frontal zone formed when a cold front overtakes a warm front and, being colder than the air ahead of the warm front, slides under the warm front, lifting it aloft. Compare with warm occlusion.Cold PoolA region of relatively cold air, represented on a weather map analysis as a relative minimum in temperature surrounded by closed isotherms. Cold pools aloft represent regions of relatively low stability, while surface-based cold pools are regions of relatively stable air.Collar CloudA generally circular ring of cloud that may be observed on rare occasions surrounding the
upper part of a wall cloud.
This term sometimes is used (incorrectly) as a synonym for wall cloud. Collection EfficiencyThe fraction of droplets approaching a surface that actually deposit on that surface.Colorado LowA low pressure storm system that forms in winter in southeastern Colorado or northeastern New Mexico and tracks northeastward across the central plains of the U.S. over a period of several days, producing blizzards and hazardous winter weather.
Columnar IceIn hydrologic terms, ice consisting of columnar shaped grain. The ordinary black ice is usually columnar-grained.Combined SeasGenerally referred to as SEAS. Used to describe the combination or interaction of wind waves and swells in which the separate components are not distinguished. This includes the case when swell is negligible or is not considered in describing sea state. Specifically, Seas2 = S2+W2 where S is the height of all swell components and W is the height of the wind wave components. When used, SEAS should be considered as being the same as the significant wave height.
Comma CloudA synoptic scale cloud pattern with a characteristic comma-like shape, often seen on satellite photographs associated with large and intense low-pressure systems.Comma EchoA thunderstorm radar echo which has a comma-like shape. It often appears during latter
stages in the life cycle of a bow echo Complex Gale/Storm In the high seas and offshore forecasts, an area for which gale/storm force winds are forecast or are occurring but for which no single center is the principal generator of these winds.Complex TerrainTypically used to refer to mountainous terrain. In general usage, it may also refer to coastal regions and heterogeneous landscapes.CompositeAn average that is calculated according to specific criteria. For example, one might want a composite for the rainfall at a given location for all years where the temperature was much above average.Composite HydrographA stream discharge hydrograph which includes base flow, or one which corresponds to a net rain storm of duration longer than one unit period.Comprehensive Flare Index (CFI)In solar-terrestrial terms, the indicative of solar flare importance.
Concentric RingsThese are common in the most intense hurricanes. They usually mark the end the period of intensification. These hurricanes then maintain quasi-constant intensity or
weaken. When the inner eye is completely dissipated, more intensification may occur.CONDConditionCondensationIn general, the physical process by which a vapor becomes a liquid or solid;
the opposite of evaporation, although on the molecular scale, both processes are always
occurring.Condensation FunnelA funnel-shaped cloud associated with rotation and consisting of condensed water droplets (as opposed to smoke, dust, debris, etc.).Conditionally Unstable AirAn atmospheric condition that exists when the environmental lapse rate is less than the dry adiabatic lapse rate but greater than the moist adiabatic lapse rate.ConductionFlow of heat in response to a temperature gradient within an object or between objects that are in physical contact.Cone of DepressionIn hydrologic terms, the depression, roughly conical in shape, produced in a water table, or other piezometric surface, by the extraction of water from a well at a given rate. The volume of the cone will vary with the rate of withdrawal of water. Also called the Cone of Influence. Cone of InfluenceSame as Cone of Depression; in hydrologic terms, the depression, roughly conical in shape, produced in a water table, or other piezometric surface, by the extraction of water from a well at a given rate. The volume of the cone will vary with the rate of withdrawal of water. Confined Ground WaterIn hydrologic terms, ground water held under an aquiclude or an aquifuge, called artesian if the pressure is positive.ConfluenceA pattern of wind flow in which air flows inward toward an axis oriented parallel to the general direction of flow. It is the opposite of difluence. Confluence is not the same as convergence. Winds often accelerate as they enter a confluent zone, resulting in speed divergence which offsets the (apparent) converging effect of the confluent flow.Congestus(or Cumulus Congestus) - same as towering cumulus. Congressional Organic Act of 1890The act that assigned the responsibility of river and floor forecasting for the benefit of the general welfare of the Nation’s people and economy to the Weather Bureau, and subsequently the National Weather Service.ConingWith regards to wildfires, pattern of plume dispersion in a neutral atmosphere, in which the plume attains the form of a cone with its vertex at the top of the stack.Conjugate PointsTwo points on the earth's surface, at opposite ends of a
geomagnetic field lineConservation StorageIn hydrologic terms, storage of water for later release for usual purposes such as municipal water supply, power, or irrigation in contrast with storage capacity used for flood control.Consolidated Ice CoverIn hydrologic terms, ice cover formed by the packing and freezing together of floes, brash ice and other forms of floating ice.Constant Pressure ChartAlternate term for Isobaric Chart; a weather map representing conditions on a surface of equal atmospheric pressure. For example, a 500 mb chart will display conditions at the level of the atmosphere at which the atmospheric pressure is 500 mb. The height above sea level at which the pressure is that particular value may vary from one location to another at any given time, and also varies with time at any one location, so it does not represent a surface of constant altitude/height (i.e., the 500 mb level may be at a different height above sea level over Dallas than over New York at a given time, and may also be at a different height over Dallas from one day to the next).CONTContinue/ContinuouslyContentsIn hydrologic terms, the volume of water in a reservoir. Unless otherwise indicated reservoir content is computed on the basis of a level pool and does not include bank storage. Continental Air MassA dry air mass originating over a large land area. Contrast with tropical air mass.Continental ShelfThe zone bordering a continent and extending to a depth, usually around 100 FM, from which there is a steep descent toward greater depth.Continuum Storm (CTM)In solar-terrestrial terms, general term for solar noise lasting for hours and
sometimes days.Control PointsIn hydrologic terms, small monuments securely embedded in the surface of the dam. Any movement of the monument indicates a movement in the dam itself. Movements in the dam are detected by comparing control points location to location of fixed monuments located off the dam using accurate survey techniques.CONTScontinuesCONUSContinental United StatesConvectionGenerally, transport of heat and moisture by the movement of a fluid.
In meteorology, the term is used specifically to describe vertical transport of heat and moisture in the atmosphere, especially by updrafts and downdrafts in an unstable atmosphere. The terms "convection" and "thunderstorms" often are used interchangeably, although thunderstorms are only one form of convection. Cbs, towering cumulus clouds, and ACCAS clouds all are visible forms of convection. However, convection is not always made visible by clouds. Convection which occurs without cloud formation is called dry convection, while the visible convection processes referred to above are forms of moist convection.Convective Boundary LayerThe unstable boundary layer that forms at the surface and grows upward through the day as the ground is heated by the sun and convective currents transfer heat upwards into the atmosphere.Convective CloudsThe vertically developed family of clouds are cumulus and cumulonimbus. The height of their bases range from as low as 1,000 feet to a bit more than 10,000 feet.
Clouds with extensive vertical development are positive indications of unstable air. Strong upward currents in vertically developed clouds can carry high concentrations of supercooled
water to high levels where temperatures are quite cold. Upper portions of these clouds may be composed of water and ice.Convective Condensation Level(abbrev. CCL)- The level in the atmosphere to which an air parcel, if heated from below, will rise dry adiabatically, without becoming colder than its environment just before the parcel becomes saturated. See Lifted Condensation Level (LCL).Convective Inhibition(CIN or B-) - A numerical measure of the strength of "capping," typically used to assess thunderstorm potential. Specifically, it represents the cumulative effect of atmospheric layers the
are warmer than the parcel moving vertically along the adiabat. Low level parcel ascent is often
inhibited by such stable layers near the surface. If natural processes fail to destabilize the lower
levels, an input of energy from forced lift (a front, an upper level shortwave, etc.) will be required
to move the negatively buoyant air parcels to the point where they will rise freely. Since CIN is proportional to the amount of kinetic energy that a parcel loses to buoyancy while it is colder than the surrounding environment, it contributes to the downward momentum.Convective Outlook(sometimes called AC) - A forecast containing the area(s) of expected thunderstorm
occurrence and expected severity over the contiguous United States, issued several times daily by the SPC.
The terms approaching, slight risk, moderate risk, and high risk are used to describe severe thunderstorm
potential. Local versions sometimes are prepared by local NWS offices.Convective OverdevelopmentConvection that covers the sky with clouds, thereby cutting off the sunshine that produces convection.Convective TemperatureThe approximate temperature that the air near the ground must warm to in order for surface-based convection to develop, based on analysis of a sounding.
Calculation of the convective temperature involves many assumptions, such that thunderstorms sometimes develop well before or well after the convective temperature is reached (or may not develop at all). However, in some cases the convective temperature is a useful parameter for forecasting the onset of convection.ConvergenceA contraction of a vector field; the opposite of divergence. Convergence in a horizontal wind field indicates that more air is entering a given area than is leaving at that level. To compensate for the resulting "excess," vertical motion may result: upward forcing if convergence is at low levels, or downward forcing (subsidence) if convergence is at high levels. Upward forcing from low-level convergence increases the potential for thunderstorm development (when other factors, such as instability, are favorable). Compare with confluence.Conveyance LossIn hydrologic terms, the loss of water from a conduit due to leakage, seepage, evaporation, or evapo-transpiration.Cooling Degree Days(Abbrev. CDD) - A form of Degree Day used to estimate energy requirements for air conditioning or refrigeration. Typically, cooling degree days are calculated as how much warmer the mean temperature at a location is than 65°F on a given day. For example, if a location experiences a mean temperature of 75°F on a certain day, there were 10 CDD (Cooling Degree Days) that day because 75 - 65 = 10.Cooperative ObserverAn individual (or institution) who takes precipitation and temperature observations-and in some cases other observations such as river stage, soil temperature, and evaporation-at or near their home, or place of business. Many observers transmit their reports by touch-tone telephone to an NWS computer, and nearly all observers mail monthly reports to the National Climatic Data Center to be archived and published. Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)By international agreement, the local time at the prime meridian, which passes through Greenwich, England. Prior to 1972, this time was called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) but is now referred to as Coordinated Universal Time or Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). It is a coordinated time scale, maintained by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM). It is also known a "Z time" or "Zulu Time".
More about UTC, and a table to convert UTC to your local time is
http://www.srh.noaa.gov/jetstream/remote/radarfaq.htm#utcCORCorrectionCore Punch[Slang], a penetration by a vehicle into the heavy precipitation core of a thunderstorm.
Core punching is not a recommended procedure for storm spotting.Coriolis ForceA fictitious force used to account for the apparent deflection of a body in motion with respect to the earth, as seen by an observer on the earth. The deflection (to the right in the Northern Hemisphere) is caused by the rotation of the earth.Corn Snow IceIn hydrologic terms, rotten granular ice. Corner EffectsA small-scale convergence effect that can be quite severe. It occurs around
steep islands and headlands.Corona1. The outermost layer of the solar atmosphere, characterized by low densities (< 1.0x109/cc) and high temperatures (> 1.0x106 K).
2. In solar-terrestrial terms, a white or colored circle or set of concentric circles of light of small radius seen around a luminous body, especially around the sun or moon. The color varies from blue inside to red outside and the phenomenon is attributed to diffraction of light by thin clouds or mist (distinguished from halo).Coronal HoleIn solar-terrestrial terms, an extended region of the corona, exceptionally low in density
and associated with unipolar photospheric regions.Coronal Rain(Abbrev. CRN) In solar-terrestrial terms, material condensing in the corona and appearing to rain
down into the chromosphere as observed at the solar limb above strong sunspots.Coronal TransientsIn solar-terrestrial terms, a general term for short-time-scale changes in the corona, but principally used to describe outward-moving plasma clouds.Correlated ShearAn output of the mesocyclone detection algorithm indicating a 3-dimensional shear region (i.e. vertically correlated) that is not symmetrical. CorrelationA measure of similarity between variables of functions.Cosmic RayAn extremely energetic (relativistic) charged particle.County Warning and Forecast AreaThe group of counties for which a National Weather Service Forecast Office is responsible for issuing warnings and weather forecasts.County Warning AreaThe group of counties for which a National Weather Service Forecast Office is responsible for issuing warnings.Coupled Atmosphere-Ocean ModelSame as Coupled Model; in the context of climate modeling this usually refers to a numerical model which simulates both atmospheric and oceanic motions and temperatures and which takes into account the effects of each component on the other. Coupled ModelIn the context of climate modeling this usually refers to a numerical model which simulates both atmospheric and oceanic motions and temperatures and which takes into account the effects of each component on the other.CoupletAdjacent maxima of radial velocities of opposite signs. CPCClimate Prediction CenterCreekA small stream of water which serves as the natural drainage course for a drainage basin of nominal, or small size. The term is a relative one as to size, some creeks in the humid section would be called rivers if they occurred in the arid portion. Crepuscular RaysThe alternating bands of light and dark (rays and shadows) seen at the earth's surface when the sun shines through clouds.CrestHighest point in a wave.
In hydrologic terms, (1) The highest stage or level of a flood wave as it passes a point. (2) The top of a dam, dike, spillway, or weir, to which water must rise before passing over the structure. Crest GageA gage used to obtain a record of flood crests at sites where recording gages are installed.Crest WidthIn hydrologic terms, the thickness or width of a dam at the level of the crest (top) of the dam. The term "thickness" is used for gravity and arch dams and "width" for other types of dams.Critical DepthIn hydrologic terms, The depth of water flowing in an open channel or conduit, partially filled, corresponding to one of the recognized critical velocities.Critical FlowIn hydrologic terms, a condition of flow where the mean velocity is at one of the critical values; ordinarily at Belanger's critical depth and velocity. Another important usage is in reference to the Reynolds' critical velocities which define the point at which the flow changes from streamline or nonturbulent to turbulent flow. Critical Rainfall Probability(Abbrev. CRP) - In hydrologic terms, the Probability that the actual precipitation during a rainfall event has exceeded or will exceed the flash flood guidance value. CRNCoronal Rain - In solar-terrestrial terms, material condensing in the corona and appearing to rain down into the
chromosphere as observed at the solar limb above strong sunspots.CrochetIn solar-terrestrial terms, a sudden deviation in the sunlit geomagnetic field (H component;
see geomagnetic elements) associated with large solar
flare X-ray emissionCrop Moisture IndexIn 1968, Palmer developed the index to assess short-term crop water conditions and needs across major crop-producing regions. This index is a useful tool in forecasting short-term drought conditions.Cross-Valley Wind SystemA thermally driven wind that blows during daytime across the axis of a valley toward the heated sidewall.Crown FireA fire where flames travel from tree to tree at the level of the tree's crown or top.CrowningMovement of a fire from the understory into the crown of a forest canopy.CRPCritical Rainfall Probability - in hydrologic terms, the probability that a given rainfall will cause a river, or stream to rise above flood stage. CRSConsole Replacement System for NOAA Weather RadioCryologyThe science of the physical aspects of snow, ice, hail, and sleet and other forms of water produced by temperatures below Zero degrees Celsius. CSDRBLConsiderableCSIConditional Symmetric InstabilityCSTCentral Standard TimeCSTLcoastalCTYcityCUCumulus clouds - Detached clouds, generally dense and with sharp outlines, showing vertical development in the
form of domes, mounds, or towers. Tops normally are rounded while bases are more horizontal. See Cb,
towering cumulus.Cubic Feet per Second(Abbrev. CFP) - In hydrologic terms, a unit expressing rates of discharge. One cubic foot per second is equal to the discharge through a rectangular cross section, 1 foot wide by 1 foot deep, flowing at an average velocity of 1 foot per second. It is also approximately 7.48 gallons per second. CUFRACumulus FractusCumuliformDescriptive of all clouds with vertical development in the form of rising mounds, domes, or towersCumuliform AnvilA thunderstorm anvil with visual characteristics resembling cumulus-type clouds (rather
than the more typical fibrous appearance associated with cirrus). A cumuliform anvil arises from rapid
spreading of a thunderstorm updraft, and thus implies a very strong updraft. See anvil rollover, knuckles,
mushroom.Cumulus(Abbrev. CU) - detached clouds, generally dense and with sharp outlines, showing vertical development in the
form of domes, mounds, or towers. Tops normally are rounded while bases are more horizontal. See Cb,
towering cumulus.Cumulus BuildupsClouds which develop vertically due to unstable air. Characterized by their cauliflower-like or tower-like appearance of moderately large sizeCumulus CongestusA large, towering cumulus cloud with great vertical development, usually with a cauliflower-like appearance, but lacking the characteristic anvil of a cumulonimbus.CurrentA horizontal movement of water. Currents may be classified as tidal and nontidal. Tidal currents are caused by gravitational interactions between the sun, moon, and earth and are a part of the same general movement of the sea that is manifested in the vertical rise and fall, called TIDE. Tidal currents are periodic with a net velocity of zero over the tidal cycle. Nontidal currents include the permanent currents in the general circulatory systems of the sea as well as temporary currents arising from more pronounced meteorological variability. The SET of a current is the direction toward which it flows; the DRIFT is its speed.Current MeterIn hydrologic terms, device used to measure the water velocity or current in a river.
Curtain DrainIn hydrologic terms, a drain constructed at the upper end of the area to be drained, to intercept surface or ground water flowing toward the protected area from higher ground, and carry it away from the area. Also called an Intercepting Drain. CutoffIn hydrologic terms, from passing through a dam’s foundation material. An impervious construction or material which reduces seepage or prevents it. Cutoff LowA closed upper-level low which has become completely displaced (cut off) from basic westerly current, and moves independently of that current. Cutoff lows may remain nearly stationary for days, or on occasion may move westward opposite to the prevailing flow aloft (i.e., retrogression).
"Cutoff low" and "closed low" often are used interchangeably to describe low pressure centers aloft. However, not all closed lows are completely removed from the influence of the basic westerlies. Therefore, the recommended usage of the terms is to reserve the use of "cutoff low" only to those closed lows which clearly are detached completely from the westerlies.CVRCoverCWACounty Warning AreaCWFACounty Warning and Forecast AreaCYCCyclone- A large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of low atmospheric pressure, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.CYCLGNCyclogenesis - The formation or intensification of a cyclone or low-pressure storm system.Cyclic StormA thunderstorm that undergoes cycles of intensification and weakening (pulses)
while maintaining its individuality. Cyclic supercells are capable of producing multiple tornadoes (i.e.,
a tornado family) and/or several bursts of severe weather.Cyclogenesis(Abbrev. CYCLGN) - The formation or intensification of a cyclone or low-pressure storm system.Cyclone(abbrev. CYC) - A large-scale circulation of winds around a central region of low atmospheric pressure, counterclockwise in the Northern Hemisphere, clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere.Cyclonic CirculationCirculation (or rotation) which is in the same sense as the
Earth's rotation, i.e., counterclockwise (in the Northern Hemisphere) as would be seen from above. Nearly
all mesocyclones and strong or violent tornadoes exhibit cyclonic rotation, but some smaller vortices, such as
gustnadoes, occasionally rotate anticyclonically (clockwise). Compare with anticyclonic rotation.Daily Climatological ReportAs the name indicates, this climatological product is issued daily by each National Weather Service office. Most of the climatological data in this report are
presented in a tabular form; however, some narrative statements may also be used in the product. The report is organized so that similar items are grouped together (i.e., temperature,
precipitation, wind, sunrise and sunset times, etc.).DATACOLIn hydrologic terms, the Software System that supports RFC gateway functions.DCP(Data Collection Platform) In hydrologic terms, an electronic device that connects to a river or rainfall gage that records data from the gage and at pre-determined times transmits
that data through a satellite to a remote computer. Debris CloudA rotating "cloud" of dust or debris, near or on the ground, often appearing
beneath a condensation funnel and surrounding the base of a tornado.
This term is similar to dust whirl, although the latter typically refers to a circulation which contains
dust but not necessarily any debris. A dust plume, on the other hand, does not rotate. Note that a
debris cloud appearing beneath a thunderstorm will confirm the presence of a tornado, even in the
absence of a condensation funnel.DecadalOccurring over a 10-year period, such as an oscillation whose period is roughly 10 years ("Pacific Decadal Oscillation").DeclinationThe latitude that the sun is directly over at a given time. The declination is ~23°N at the summer solstice, ~23°S at the winter solstice, and 0° (over the equator) at the spring and autumn equinoxes.Deep Percolation LossIn hydrologic terms, water that percolates downward through the soil beyond the reach of plant roots. Deformed IceIn hydrologic terms, a general term for ice which has been squeezed together and forced upwards and downwards in places. Subdivisions are rated
ice, ridge ice, hummocked ice, and other similar deformations.DendriticIn hydrologic terms, the form of the drainage pattern of a stream and it's tributaries when it follows a treelike shape, with the main trunk, branches, and
twigs corresponding to the main stream, tributaries, and subtributaries, respectively, of the stream.Density CurrentIn hydrologic terms, a flow of water maintained by gravity through a large body of water, such as a reservoir or lake, and retaining its unmixed identity
because of a difference in density.Depletion CurveIn hydrologic terms, the part of the hydrograph extending from the point of termination of the Recession Curve to the subsequent rise or alternation of
inflow due to additional water becomming available for stream flow.Derecho(Pronounced day-RAY-cho), a widespread and usually fast-moving windstorm associated with convection. Derechos include any family of downburst clusters produced by an extratropical MCS, and can produce damaging straight-line winds over areas hundreds of miles long and more than 100 miles across.Derived ProductsProcessed base data on the Doppler radar.DesertificationA tendency toward more prominent desert conditions in a region.Design CriteriaIn hydrologic terms, the hypothetical flood used in the sizing of the dam and the associated structures to prevent dam failure by overtopping, especially
for the spillway and outlet works. DiabaticA process which occurs with the addition or loss of heat. The opposite of adiabatic. Meteorological examples include air parcels warming due to the absorption of infrared radiation or release of latent heat.Diagnostic ModelA computer model used to calculate air pollution concentrations. A diagnostic model produces a wind field over an area by interpolating from actual wind observations.Diffuse IceIn hydrologic terms, poorly defined ice edge limiting an area of dispersed ice; usually on the leeward side of an area of floating ice.Difluence(or diffluence) - A pattern of wind flow in which air moves outward (in a "fan-out" pattern) away from a central axis that is oriented parallel to the general direction of the flow. It is the opposite of confluence.
Difluence in an upper level wind field is considered a favorable condition for severe thunderstorm development (if other parameters are also favorable). But difluence is not the same as divergence. In a difluent flow, winds normally decelerate as they move through the region of difluence, resulting in speed convergence which offsets the apparent diverging effect of the difluent flow.Direct Flood DamageIn hydrologic terms, the damage done to property, structures, goods, etc., by a flood as measured by the cost of replacement and repairs.Direct HitA close approach of a tropical cyclone to a particular location. For locations on the
left-hand side of a tropical cyclone's track (looking in the direction of motion), a direct
hit occurs when the cyclone passes to within a distance equal to the cyclone's
radius of maximum wind. For locations on the right-hand side of the track, a direct
hit occurs when the cyclone passes to within a distance equal to twice the radius of
maximum wind. Compare indirect hit, strike. Direct RunoffIn hydrologic terms, the runoff entering stream channels promptly after rainfall or snowmelt. Superposed on base runoff, it forms the bulk of the
hydrograph of a flood.Direct Solar RadiationThe component of solar radiation received by the earth's surface only from the direction of the sun's disk (i.e. it has not been reflected, refracted or scattered).Directional ShearThe component of wind shear which is due to a change in wind direction with
height, e.g., southeasterly winds at the surface and southwesterly winds aloft. A veering wind with
height in the lower part of the atmosphere is a type of directional shear often considered important
for tornado development.DischargeIn hydrologic terms, the rate at which water passes a given point. Discharge is expressed in a volume per time with units of L3/T. Discharge is often
used interchangeably with streamflow.Discharge CurveIn hydrologic terms, a curve that expresses the relation between the discharge of a stream or open conduit at a given location and the stage or elevation
of the liquid surface at or near that location. Also called Rating Curve and Discharge Rating Curve.Discharge TableIn hydrologic terms,
1. A table showing the relation between two mutually dependant quantities or variable over a given range of magnitude.
2. A table showing the relation between the gage height and the discharge of a stream or conduit at a given gaging station. Also called a Rating Table. Diurnal CyclesVariations in meteorological parameters such as temperature and relative humidity over the course of a day which result from the rotation of the
Earth about its axis and the resultant change in incoming and outgoing radiation.DivergenceThe expansion or spreading out of a vector field; usually said of horizontal winds. It is the opposite of convergence. Divergence at upper levels of the atmosphere enhances upward motion, and hence the potential for thunderstorm development (if other factors also are favorable).DOCDepartment of CommerceDomestic ConsumptionIn hydrologic terms, the quantity, or quantity per capita, of water consumed in a municipality or district for domestic uses or purposes during a given
period, generally one day. It is usually taken to include all uses included within the term Municipal Use of Water and quantity
wasted, lost, or otherwise unaccounted for.Domestic Use of waterIn hydrologic terms, the use of water primarily for household purposes, the watering of livestock, the irrigation of gardens, lawns, shrubbery, etc.,
surrounding a house or domicile.DRCTNDirectionDrifting IceIn hydrologic terms, pieces of floating ice moving under the action of wind and/ or currents.Dry Adiabatic Lapse RateThe rate at which the temperature of a parcel of dry air decreases as the parcel is lifted in the atmosphere. The dry adiabatic lapse rate (abbreviated DALR) is 5.5°F per 1000 ft or 9.8°C per km.Dry CrackIn hydrologic terms, a crack visible at the surface but not going right through the ice cover, and therefore it is dry.Dry MicroburstA microburst with little or no precipitation reaching the ground; most common in semi-arid regions. They may or may not produce lightning. Dry microbursts may develop in an otherwise fair-weather pattern; visible signs may include a cumulus cloud or small Cb with a high base and high-level virga, or perhaps only an orphan anvil from a dying rain shower. At the ground, the only visible sign might be a dust plume or a ring of blowing dust beneath a local area of virga.Dry Punch[Slang], a surge of drier air; normally a synoptic-scale or mesoscale process. A dry punch at
the surface results in a dry line bulge. A dry punch aloft above an area of moist air at low levels often
increases the potential for severe weather.Dry-adiabatic1. An adiabatic process in a hypothetical atmosphere in which no moisture is present. 2. An adiabatic process in which no condensation of its water vapor occurs and no liquid water is present.Duration CurveIn hydrologic terms, a cumulative frequency curve that shows the percent of time during which specified units of items (e.g. discharge, head,
power,etc.) were equaled or exceeded in a given period. It is the integral of the frequency diagram.Duration of Ice CoverIn hydrologic terms, The time from freeze-up to break-up of an ice cover.Dynamic IceIn hydrologic terms, pressure due to a moving ice cover or drifting ice. Pressure occuring at movement of first contact termed Ice Impact PressureDynamic LiftingThe forced uplifting of air from various atmospheric processes, such as weather fronts, and
cyclones.Dynamic Wave Routing Model (DWOPER)A computerized hydraulic routing program whose algorithms incorporate the complete one-dimensional equations of unsteady flowDynamicsGenerally, any forces that produce motion or effect change. In operational meteorology, dynamics usually refer specifically to those forces that produce vertical motion in the atmosphere.E-5, Monthly Report of River and Flood cIn hydrologic terms, a monthly narrative report covering flooding which occurred over the past month. Flood stage, flood crest and dates in which
flooding occurred is covered within this report for each data point which was in flood. If the flooding involved a forecast point, an
E-3 must be filled out as well. If no flooding has occurred within the past month, a climatic summary of the past month can be
included as well as other interesting non-flood events, such as water supply, ice jams and the occurrence of drought. An E-5 report
is sent to Regional Headquarters, the appropriate RFC, as well as the Office of Hydrology (OH).Ebb CurrentThe movement of a tidal current away form the coast or down an estuary.EccentricityA dimensionless quantity describing the elliptical shape of a planet's orbit.EchoEnergy back scattered from a target (precipitation, clouds, etc.) and received by and displayed on a radar screen.Echo TopsThe height above ground of the center of the radar beam using the tilt, or scan, that contains the highest elevation where reflectivities greater than 18 dBZ can be detected.ECMFEuropean Center for Meteorology Forecast model.ECMWFEuropean Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts. Operational references in forecast discussions typically refer to the ECMWF's medium-range numerical forecast model, which runs out to 10 days.EFCTEffectEffective PorosityIn hydrologic terms, the ratio, usually expressed as a percentage, of the volume of water or other liquid which a given saturated volume of rock or soil
will yield under any specified hydraulic condition, to the given volume of soil or rock.Effective Precipitation1) That part of the precipitation that produces runoff.
2) A weighted average of current and antecedent precipitation that is "effective" in correlating with runoff.
3) That part of the precipitation falling on an irrigated area that is effective in meeting the consumptive use requirements.Effective Terrestrial RadiationThe difference between upwelling infrared or terrestrial radiation emitted from the earth and the downwelling infrared radiation from the atmosphere Effective TopographyThe topography as seen by an approaching flow, which may include not only the actual terrain but also cold air masses trapped within or adjacent to the actual topography.Elevated ConvectionConvection occurring within an elevated layer, i.e., a layer in which the lowest portion is based above the earth's surface. Elevated convection often occurs when air near the ground is relatively cool and stable, e.g., during periods of isentropic lift, when an unstable layer of air is present aloft.
In cases of elevated convection, stability indices based on near-surface measurements (such as the lifted index) typically will underestimate the amount of instability present. Severe weather is possible from elevated convection, but is less likely than it is with surface-based convection.EMCEnvironmental Modeling CenterEmergency Action PlanIn hydrologic terms, a predetermined plan of action to be taken to reduce the potential for property damage and loss of life in an area affected by a
dam break or excessive spillway.Emergency ServicesIn hydrologic terms, services provided in order to minimize the impact of a flood that is already happening. These measures are the responsibility of city,
or county emergency management staff and the owners or operators of major, or critical facilities. Some examples of emergency
services are flood warning and evacuation, flood response, and post flood activities.Energy Helicity IndexAn index that incorporates vertical shear and instability, designed for the
purpose of forecasting supercell thunderstormsEnhanced VA pattern seen on satellite infrared photographs of thunderstorms, in which a thunderstorm anvil exhibits a V-shaped region of colder cloud tops extending downwind from
the thunderstorm core. The enhanced V indicates a very strong updraft, and therefore a higher potential for severe weather. Enhanced V should not be confused with V notch, which is a
radar signature.Enhanced Wording1. An option used by the SPC in tornado and severe thunderstorm watches when the potential for strong/violent tornadoes, or unusually widespread damaging straight-line winds, is high. The text that accompanies a watch of this type will include the line "THIS IS A PARTICULARLY DANGEROUS SITUATION."
2. Strong wording or emphasis used in a zone forecast issued by a National Weather Service Forecast Office highlighting a potential condition (e.g., "some thunderstorms may be severe").ENHNCDEnhancedEnsemble ForecastMultiple predictions from an ensemble of slightly different initial conditions and/or various versions of models. The objectives are to improve the accuracy of the forecast through averaging the various forecasts, which eliminates non-predictable components, and to provide reliable information on forecast uncertainties from the diversity amongst ensemble members. Forecasters use this tool to measure the likelihood of a forecast.Ensemble Hydrologic ForecastingIn hydrologic terms, a process whereby a continuous hydrologic model is successively executed several times for the same forecast period by use of
varied data input scenarios, or a perturbation of a key variable state for each model run. A common method employed to obtain a
varied data input scenario is to use the historical meteorological record, with the assumption that several years of observed data
covering the time period beginning on the current date and extending through the forecast period comprises a reasonable estimate
of the possible range of future conditions.ENSO Diagnostic DiscussionThe CPC issues the ENSO Diagnostic Discussion around the middle of the month. The discussion addresses the current oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the Pacific and the seasonal climate outlook for the following one to three seasons.Entrance RegionThe region upstream from a wind speed maximum in a jet stream (jet max), in which air is approaching (entering) the region of maximum winds, and therefore is accelerating. This acceleration results in a vertical circulation that creates divergence in the upper-level winds in the right half of the entrance region (as would be viewed looking along the direction of flow).
This divergence results in upward motion of air in the right rear quadrant (or right entrance region) of the jet max. Severe weather potential sometimes increases in this area as a result. See also exit region, left exit region.Environment CanadaThe Canadian federal government department responsible for issuing weather forecasts and weather warnings in Canada.EPCTGExpectingEquilibrium Surface DischargeIn hydrologic terms, the steady rate of surface discharge which results from a long-continued, steady rate of net rainfall, with discharge rate equal to net
rainfall rateEruptive Prominence on Limb (EPL)In solar-terrestrial terms, a solar prominence that becomes activa-
ted and is seen to ascend from the sun.Excess RainIn hydrologic terms, effective rainfall in excess of infiltration capacity.Excessive HeatExcessive heat occurs from a combination of high temperatures (significantly above normal) and high humidities. At certain levels, the human body cannot maintain proper internal temperatures and may experience heat stroke. The "Heat Index" is a measure of the effect of the combined elements on the body.Excessive Heat OutlookThis CPC product, a combination of temperature and humidity over a certain number of days, is designed to provide an indication of areas of the country where people and animals may need to take precautions against the heat during May to November.Excessive Heat WarningIssued within 12 hours of the onset of the following criteria: heat index of at least 105°F for more than 3 hours per day for 2 consecutive days, or heat index more than 115°F for any period of time.Excessive Heat WatchIssued by the National Weather Service when heat indices in excess of 105ºF (41ºC) during the day combined with nighttime low
temperatures of 80ºF (27ºC) or higher are forecast to occur for two consecutive days.Excessive Rainfall Outlook (ERO)A graphical product in which the Weather Prediction Center (WPC) forecasts the probability that rainfall will exceed flash flood guidance (FFG) within 40 kilometers (25 miles) of a point.EXCLDExcludeExclusive Flood Control Storage CapacityIn hydrologic terms, the space in a reservoir reserved for the sole purpose of regulating flood inflows to abate flood damageExperimental ProductAn experimental product is in the final stages of testing and evaluation. If the product proves accurate and valuable to users then the next step is to make it an operational product.Extended Forecast DiscussionThis discussion is issued once a day around 2 PM EST (3 PM EDT) and is primarily intended to provide insight into guidance forecasts for the 3-
to 5-day forecast period. The geographic focus of this discussion is on the United States (including Alaska and Hawaii). Although portions of this narrative will parallel the
Hemispheric Map Discussion, a much greater effort is made to routinely relate the model forecasts and necessary modifications to weather forecasts, mainly in terms of temperature and
precipitation. ExtratropicalA term used in advisories and tropical summaries to indicate that a cyclone has lost its "tropical" characteristics. The term implies both poleward displacement of the
cyclone and the conversion of the cyclone's primary energy source from the release of latent heat of condensation to baroclinic (the temperature contrast between warm and cold air
masses) processes. It is important to note that cyclones can become extratropical and still retain winds of hurricane or tropical storm force.Extratropical CycloneA cyclone in the middle and high latitudes often being 2000 kilometers in diameter and usually containing a cold front that extends toward the equator for hundreds of kilometers.Extratropical LowA low pressure center which refers to a migratory frontal cyclone of middle and higher latitudes. Tropical cyclones occasionally evolve into extratropical lows losing tropical characteristics and become associated with frontal discontinuity. Extremely Low Frequency (ELF)That portion of the radio frequency spectrum
from 30 to 3000 hertzF CoronaIn solar-terrestrial terms, of the white-light corona (that is, the corona seen by the eye at a total solar eclipse), that portion which is caused by sunlight scattered or reflected by solid particles (dust) in inter-planetary space.F ScaleAbbreviation for Fujita Scale, a system of rating the intensity of tornadoes; for detailed information, see the definition for that term.FaceIn hydrologic terms, the external surface of a structure, such as the surface of a dam.FaculaIn solar-terrestrial terms, a bright region of the photosphere seen in white light, seldom
visible except near the solar limb.FCSTForecastFerrel CellIn the general circulation of the atmosphere, the name given to the middle latitude cell marked by sinking motion near 30 degrees and rising motion near 60 degrees latitude.Fetch1. The area in which ocean waves are generated by the wind. Also refers to the length of the fetch area, measured in the direction of the wind.
2. In hydrologic terms,
Few CloudsAn official sky cover classification for aviation weather observations, descriptive of a sky cover of 1/8 to 2/8. This is applied only when obscuring phenomenon aloft are
present--that is, not when obscuring phenomenon are surface-based, such as fog.Field (Moisture) CapacityThe amount of water held in soil against the pull of gravityField Moisture DeficiencyThe quantity of water, which would be required to restore the soil moisture to field moisture capacity.Filament ChannelA broad pattern of fibrils in the chromosphere, marking
where a filament may soon form or where a filament recently
disappeared.First Law of ThermodynamicsThe law of physics that states that the heat absorbed by a system either raises the internal energy of the system or does work on the environment.Flash Flood Guidance(FFG) Forecast guidance produced by the River Forecast Centers, often model output, specific to the potential for flash flooding (e.g., how much rainfall over a given area will be required to produce flash flooding).Flash Flood WatchIssued to indicate current or developing hydrologic conditions that are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area, but the occurrence is neither certain or imminent.Flash MultiplicityThe number of return strokes in a lightning flash. Float Recording Precipitation gageIn hydrologic terms, a rain gage where the rise of a float within the instrument with increasing rainfall is recorded. Some of these gages must be emptied
manually, while others employ a self-starting siphon to empty old rainfall amounts.FlocA cluster of frazil particlesFlood CategoriesTerms defined for each forecast point which describe or categorize the severity of flood impacts in the corresponding river/stream reach. Each flood category is bounded by an upper and lower stage (see Example 1). The severity of flooding at a given stage is not necessarily the same at all locations along a river reach due to varying channel/bank characteristics or presence of levees on portions of the reach. Therefore, the upper and lower stages for a given flood category are usually associated with water levels corresponding to the most significant flood impacts somewhere in the reach. The flood categories used in the NWS are:
*Minor Flooding* - minimal or no property damage, but possibly some public threat.
*Moderate Flooding* - some inundation of structures and roads near stream. Some evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations.
*Major Flooding* - extensive inundation of structures and roads. Significant evacuations of people and/or transfer of property to higher elevations.
*Record Flooding* - flooding which equals or exceeds the highest stage or discharge at a given site during the period of record keeping.
Note: all three of the lower flood categories (minor, moderate, major) do not necessarily exist for a given forecast point. For example, at the level where a river reaches flood stage, it may be considered moderate flooding. However, at least one of these three flood categories must start at flood stage. Flood Control StorageIn hydrologic terms, storage of water in reservoirs to abate flood damageFlood CrestMaximum height of a flood wave as it passes a certain location.Flood Frequency CurveIn hydrologic terms,
- The effective distance which waves have traversed in open water, from their point of origin to the point where they break.
- 2. The distance of the water or the homogenous type surface over which the wind blows without appreciable change in direction.
(1) A graph showing the number of times per year on the average, plotted as abscissa, that floods of magnitude, indicated by the
ordinate, are equaled or exceeded.
(2) A similar graph but with recurrence intervals of floods plotted as abscissa.Flood Loss Reduction MeasuresIn hydrologic terms, the strategy for reducing flood losses. There are four basic strategies. They are prevention, property protection, emergency
services, and structural projects. Each strategy incorporates different measures that are appropriate for different conditions. In
many communities, a different person may be responsible for each strategy.Flood of RecordIn hydrologic terms, the highest observed river stage or discharge at a given location during the period of record keeping. (Not necessarily the highest
known stage.)Flood WatchIssued to inform the public and cooperating agencies that current and developing hydrometeorological conditions are such that there is a threat of flooding, but the occurrence is neither certain nor imminent.Flooded IceIn hydrologic terms, ice which has been flooded by melt water or river water and is heavily loaded by water and wet snow.Flow Duration CurveIn hydrologic terms, a cumulative frequency curve that shows the percentage of time that specified discharges are equaled or exceeded.FluenceTime integrated fluxForced ChannelingChanneling of upper winds along a valley's axis when upper winds are diverted by the underlying topography. Compare pressure-driven channeling.ForecastA statement of prediction.Forecast CrestIn hydrologic terms, the highest elevation of river level, or stage, expected during a specified storm event.Forecast GuidanceComputer-generated forecast materials used to assist the preparation of a forecast, such as numerical forecast models.Forecast Issuance StageThe stage which, when reached by a rising stream, represents the level where RFCs need to begin issuing forecasts for a non-routine (flood-only) forecast point. This stage is coordinated between WFO and RFC personnel and is not necessarily the same as action or alert stage. The needs of WFO/RFC partners and other users are considered in determining this stage. Forecast PeriodsOfficial definitions for NWS products:
Today...............................Sunrise to sunset
This afternoon..................noon till 6 p.m.
This evening.....................6 p.m. till sunset
Tonight.............................sunset till sunrise
Tomorrow.........................sunrise to sunset of the following dayForecast PointA location along a river or stream for which hydrologic forecast and warning services are provided by a WFO. The observed/forecast stage or discharge for a given forecast point can be assumed to represent conditions in a given reach (see /reach/).Forecast valid forThe period of time the forecast is in effect
beginning at a given day, date and time, and ending at a given day, date
and time.FractocumulusA cumulus cloud presenting a ragged, shredded appearance, as if torn.FractostratusA stratus cloud presenting a ragged, shredded appearance, as if torn. It differs from a fractocumulus cloud in having a smaller vertical extent and darker color.FractureIn hydrologic terms, any break or rupture formed in an ice cover or floe due to deformation.Fracture ZoneIn hydrologic terms, an area which has a great number of fractures.FracturingIn hydrologic terms, deformation process whereby ice is permanently deformed, and fracture occurs.FractusRagged, detached cloud fragments; same as scud.Frazil IceIn hydrologic terms, fine spicules, plates, or discoids of ice suspended in water. In rivers and lakes, frazil is formed in supercooled, turbulent water.French DrainIn hydrologic terms, an underground passageway for water through the interstices among stones placed loosely in a trenchFrictionThe mechanical resistive force of one object on another object's relative movement when in contact with the first object. In meteorology, friction affects the motion of air (wind) at and near the Earth's surface.Friction HeadIn hydrologic terms, the decrease in total head caused by frictionFriction LayerSame as Planetary Boundary Layer; the layer within the atmosphere between the earth's surface and 1 km above the surface; this is the layer where friction affects wind speed and wind direction.FROSFCFrontal SurfaceFSCBGA specific aerial spray dispersion model. The acronym comes from the names of the sponsor and developers (Forest Service, Cramer, Barry, Grim).Fujita Scale(or F Scale) - A scale of tornado intensity in which wind speeds are inferred from an analysis of wind damage:
|F0 (weak)||40-72 mph, light damage
|F1 (weak)||73-112 mph, moderate damage
|F2 (strong)||113-157 mph, considerable damage
|F3 (strong)||158-206 mph, severe damage
|F4 (violent)||207-260 mph, devestating damage
|F5 (violent)||260-318 mph (rare), incredible damage
All tornadoes, and most other severe local windstorms, are assigned a single number from this scale according to the most intense damage caused by the storm.Fujiwhara EffectA binary interaction where tropical cyclones within a certain distance (300-750 nm depending on the sizes of the cyclones) of each other begin to rotate about a
common midpoint.Full-Physics Numerical ModelA computer model used to calculate air pollution concentrations. A full-physics numerical model uses a full set of equations describing the thermodynamic and dynamic state of the atmosphere and can be used to simulate atmospheric phenomena.Funnel CloudA condensation funnel extending from the base of a towering cumulus or Cb, associated with a rotating column of air that is not in contact with the ground (and hence different from a tornado). A condensation funnel is a tornado, not a funnel cloud, if either a) it is in contact with the ground or b) a debris cloud or dust whirl is visible beneath it.FWCNGM MOS GuidanceGale WatchA watch for an increased risk of a gale force wind event for sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, of 34 knots (39 mph) to 47 knots (54 mph), but its occurrence, location,and/or timing is still uncertain. General CirculationThe totality of large-scale organized motion for the entire global atmosphere.General Circulation Models(GCMs) - These computer simulations reproduce the Earth's weather patterns and can be used to predict change in the weather and climate.Geomagnetic ElementsIn solar-terrestrial terms, the components of the geomagnetic field at the surface of the earth. In SESC use, the northward and eastward components are often called the H and D components, where the D component is expressed in gammas and is derived from D (the declination angle) using the small angle approximation.Geomagnetic FieldThe magnetic field observed in and around the earth.
The intensity of the magnetic field at the earth's surface is
approximately 0.32 gauss at the equator and 0.62 gauss at the
north poleGeomagnetic StormIn solar-terrestraial terms, a worldwide disturbance of the earth's magnetic field,
distinct from regular diurnal variations.
Minor Geomagnetic Storm: A storm for which the Ap index was
greater than 29 and less than 50.
Major Geomagnetic Storm: A storm for which the Ap index was
greater than 49 and less than 100.
Severe Geomagnetic Storm: A storm for which the Ap index was
100 or more.
Initial Phase: Of a geomagnetic storm, that period when there
may be an increase of the middle-latitude horizontal
Main Phase: Of a geomagnetic storm, that period when the hori-
zontal magnetic field at middle latitudes is generally
Recovery Phase: Of a geomagnetic storm, that period when the
depressed northward field component returns to normal levels.Geophysical EventsIn solar-terrestrial terms, flares (Importance two or larger) with Centimetric
Outbursts (maximum of the flux higher than the Quiet Sun flux,
duration longer 10 minutes) and/or strong SID. Sometimes these
flares are followed by Geomagnetic Storms or small PCA. (Class M
Flares)GeophysicsIn hydrologic terms, the study of the physical characteristics and properties of the earth; including geodesy, seismology, meteorology, oceanography,
atmospheric electricity, terrestrial magnetism, and tidal phenomena.Geostrophic WindA wind that is affected by coriolis force, blows parallel to isobars and whose strength is related to the pressure gradient (i.e., spacing of the isobars).GeosynchronousTerm applied to any equatorial satellite with an orbital
velocity equal to the rotational velocity of the earth. The net
effect is that the satellite is virtually motionless with respect
to an observer on the groundGlaciationThe transformation of cloud particles from water drops to ice crystals. Thus, a cumulonimbus cloud is said to have a "glaciated" upper portion.GlacierIn hydrologic terms, bodies of land ice that consist of recrystallized snow accumulated on the surface of the ground, and that move slowly downslope.Glacier Dammed LakeIn hydrologic terms, the lake formed when a glacier flows across the mouth of an adjoining valley and forms an ice dam.Glacier WindA shallow downslope wind above the surface of a glacier, caused by the temperature difference between the air in contact with the glacier and the free air at the same altitude. The glacier wind does not reverse diurnally like slope and along-valley wind systems.Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS)A weather forecast model made up of 21 separate forecasts, or ensemble members. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) started the GEFS to address the nature of uncertainty in weather observations, which are used to initialize weather forecast models.Global Forecast System(GFS)- One of the operational forecast models run at NCEP. The GFS is run four times daily, with forecast output out to 384 hours.Global Temperature ChangeThe net result of four primary factors including the greenhouse effect, changes in incoming solar radiation, altered patterns of ocean
circulations, and changes in continental position, topography and/or vegetation. Three feedback mechanisms which affect global temperature change include cloud
height and amount, snow and ice distribution, and atmospheric water vapor levels.Gradual CommencementIn solar-terrestrial terms, the commencement of a geomagnetic storm that has
no well-defined onsetGravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE)NASA satellites that detect small changes in the Earth’s gravitational field caused by the redistribution of water on and beneath the land surface.Great Circle TrackA great-circle track is the shortest distance between two points on a sphere, and when viewed on a 2-dimensional map the track will appear curved. Swell waves travel along routes that mark out great circles. Great Lakes FaxbackDissemination systems housed at Weather Forecast Office (WFO) Cleveland by which Great Lakes customers request and receive hard copies of selected marine products. Great Lakes Marine Forecast (MAFOR)A National Weather Service coded summary appended to each of the Great Lakes Open Lakes forecasts. Great Lakes Weather Broadcast(LAWEB) - A National Weather Service product containing an observation summary prepared to provide Great Lakes mariners with a listing of weather observations along or on the Lakes.Greenhouse EffectAtmospheric heating caused by solar radiation being readily transmitted inward through the earth's atmosphere but longwave radiation less readily transmitted outward, due to absorption by certain gases in the atmosphere.Ground ClutterA pattern of radar echoes from fixed ground targets (buildings, hills, etc.) near
the radar. Ground clutter may hide or confuse precipitation echoes near the radar antenna.Ground receive sitesIn hydrologic terms, a satellite dish and associated computer which receives signals from the GOES satellite, decodes the information, and transmits it
to a another site for further processing. The GOES satellite ground-receive site is located at Wallops Island, VA; and the
information is relayed to a mainframe computer at NWSH for processing.Grounded iceIn hydrologic terms, ice that has run aground or is contact with the ground underneath itGroup VelocityThe speed at which a particular wave front or swell train advances.Grout CurtainA barrier produced by injecting grout into a vertical zone, usually narrow (horizontally), and in the foundation to reduce seepage
under a damH-component of the Geomagnetic Field(Geomagnetic Elements) In solar-terrestrial terms, the components of the geomagnetic field at the surface of the earth. In SESC use, the
northward and eastward components are often called the H and D components, where the D component is
expressed in gammas and is derived from D (the declination angle) using the small angle approximation.Hail ContaminationA limitation in NEXRAD rainfall estimates whereby abnormally high reflectivities associated with hail are converted to rainfall rates and rainfall accumulations. These high reflectivity values are mistaken by the radar for extremely heavy rain, thus "contaminating" (inflating) its estimation of how much rain has fallen over the affected area.Hanging (ice) damIn hydrologic terms, a mass of ice composed mainly of frazil or broken ice deposited underneath an ice cover in a region of low flow velocity.Hazardous Seas WatchA watch for an increased risk of a hazardous seas warning event to meet Hazardous Seas Warning criteria but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. Head RaceIn hydrologic terms, a channel which directs water to a water wheel; a forebay.Heavy Freezing Spray WatchA watch for an increased risk of a heavy freezing spray event to meet Heavy Freezing Spray Warning criteria but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. HectopascalA unit of pressure equal to a millibar (1 hPa = 1 mb). Abbreviated hPa.HelicityA property of a moving fluid which represents the potential for helical flow (i.e. flow which follows the pattern of a corkscrew) to evolve. Helicity is proportional to the strength of the flow, the amount of vertical wind shear, and the amount of turning in the flow (i.e. vorticity).
Atmospheric helicity is computed from the vertical wind profile in the lower part of the atmosphere (usually from the surface up to 3 km), and is measured relative to storm motion. Higher values of helicity (generally, around 150 m2/s2 or more) favor the development of mid-level rotation (i.e. mesocyclones). Extreme values can exceed 600 m2/s2.
HICHydrologist In ChargeHigh CloudsThese clouds have bases between 16,500 and 45,000 feet in the mid latitudes. At this
level they are composed of primarily of ice crystals. Some clouds at this level are cirrus,
cirrocumulus, and cirrostratusHigh Frequency (HF)The portion of the radio frequency spectrum between
between 3 and 30 MHzHigh Resolution Ensemble Forecast (HREF)An ensemble of products from several different models running at ~3 km horizontal grid spacing.High Seas Forecast(HSF) - Marine forecasts for the major oceans of the world. In this context, major gulfs or seas (e.g., the Gulf of Mexico or the Bering Sea) are included within these forecast areas. Areas of responsibility for the U.S. are determined by international agreements under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).High Wind WatchThis product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is the potential of high wind speeds developing that may pose a hazard or is life threatening. The
criteria for this watch varies from state to state. In Michigan, the criteria is the potential for sustained non-convective (not related to thunderstorms) winds greater than or equal to 40
mph and/or gusts greater than or equal to 58 mph. Hinge CrackIn hydrologic terms, a crack caused by significant changes in water level.Hook EchoA radar reflectivity pattern characterized by a hook-shaped extension of a thunderstorm echo, usually in the right-rear part of the storm (relative to its direction of motion). A hook often is associated with a mesocyclone, and indicates favorable conditions for tornado development.Hourly Precipitation Data (HPD)It contains data on nearly 3,000 hourly precipitation stations (National Weather Service, Federal Aviation Administration, and cooperative observer stations) in inches to tenths or inches to hundredths at local standard time. HPD includes
maximum precipitation for nine (9) time periods from 15 minutes to 24 hours, for selected stations. HPCHydrometeorological Prediction CenterHSA (Hydrologic Service Area)A geographical area assigned to Weather Service Forecast Office's/Weather Forecast Office's that embraces one or more rivers.Humidity RecoveryThe change in relative humidity over a given period of time; generally between late evening and sunrise. The moisture change in the fine fuels during this period is directly related to the amount of humidity recovery.HummockIn hydrologic terms, a hillock of broken ice which has been forced upward by pressureHummocked IceIn hydrologic terms, ice piled haphazardly one piece over another to form an uneven surface.Hurricane(abbrev. HURCN) A tropical cyclone in the Atlantic, Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico, or eastern Pacific, which the maximum 1-minute sustained surface wind is 64 knots (74 mph) or greater.Hurricane Force Wind WarningA warning for sustained winds, or frequent gusts, of 64 knots (74 mph) or greater, either predicted or occurring, and not directly associated with a tropical
cyclone. Hurricane Force Wind WatchA watch for an increased risk of a hurricane force wind event for sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, of 34 knots 64 knots (74 mph) or greater, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain.Hurricane Local StatementA public release prepared by local National Weather Service offices in or near a
threatened area giving specific details for its county/parish warning area on
(2) evacuation decisions made by local officials
precautions necessary to protect life and property.Hurricane SeasonThe part of the year having a relatively high incidence of tropical cyclones. In the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, and central North Pacific, the hurricane season is the period from June through November; in the eastern Pacific, May 15 through November 30. Tropical cyclones can occur year-round in any basin.Hurricane WarningAn announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane warning is issued 36 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds. The warning can remain in effect when dangerously high water or a combination of dangerously high water and waves continue, even though winds may be less than hurricane force. Hurricane WatchAn announcement that hurricane conditions (sustained winds of 74 mph or higher) are possible within the specified coastal area. Because hurricane preparedness activities become difficult once winds reach tropical storm force, the hurricane watch is issued 48 hours in advance of the anticipated onset of tropical-storm-force winds.Hydraulic Fill DamIn hydrologic terms, a dam constructed of materials, often dredged, that are conveyed and placed by suspension in flowing waterHydraulic FlowAtmospheric flow that is similar in character to the flow of water over an obstacle.Hydraulic Grade LineIn hydrologic terms, a line whose plotted ordinate position represents the sum of pressure head plus elevation head for the various positions along a
given fluid flow path, such as along a pipeline or a ground water streamline.Hydraulic HeadIn hydrologic terms,
(1) The height of the free surface of a body of water above a given point beneath the surface.
(2) The height of the water level at
the headworks, or an upstream point, of a waterway, and the water surface at a given point downstream.
(3) The height of a
hydraulic grade line above the center line of a pressure pipe, at a given point.Hydraulic JumpA steady disturbance in the lee of a mountain, where the airflow passing over the mountain suddenly changes from a region of low depth and high velocity to a region of high depth and low velocity.Hydraulic PermeabilityIn hydrologic terms, the flow of water through a unit cross-sectional area of soil normal to the direction of flow when the hydraulic gradient is unity.Hydrographic SurveyIn hydrologic terms, an instrumental survey to measure and determine characteristics of streams and other bodies of water within an area, including such
things as location, areal extent, and depth of water in lakes or the ocean; the width, depth, and course of streams; position and
elevation of high water marks; location and depth of wells, etc.Hydrologic BudgetIn hydrologic terms, an accounting of the inflow to, outflow from, and storage in, a hydrologic unit, such as a drainage basin, aquifer, soil zone, lake,
reservoir, or irrigation project. Hydrologic CycleThe description of the transport of water substance between the earth, the atmosphere, and the seas.
In hydrologic terms, the natural pathway water follows as it changes between liquid, solid, and gaseous states.Hydrologic Ensemble Forecast System (HEFS)A probabilistic forecast tool with the goals to provide hydrologic forecasts including an analysis of “probable outcomes” and to minimize biases in the atmospheric models and in the hydrologic models.Hydrologic EquationIn hydrologic terms, the water inventory equation (Inflow = Outflow + Change in Storage) which expresses the basic principle that during a given time
interval the total inflow to an area must equal the total outflow plus the net change in storage.Hydrologic ModelIn hydrologic terms, a conceptual or physically-based procedure for numerically simulating a process or processes which occur in a watershed.Hydrologic Service AreaHSA. A geographical area assigned to Weather Service Forecast Office's/Weather Forecast Office's that embraces one or more rivers.Hydrostatic HeadIn hydrologic terms, a measure of pressure at a given point in a liquid in terms of the vertical height of a column of the same liquid which would produce
the same pressureHygroscopicAbsorbing or attracting moisture from the air.Ice AgeA time of widespread glaciation.Ice BoomIn hydrologic terms, a floating structure designed to retain ice.Ice BridgeIn hydrologic terms, a continuous ice cover of limited size extending from shore to shore like a bridge.Ice CrystalsA barely visible crystalline form of ice that has the shape of needles, columns or plates. Ice crystals are so small that they seem to be suspended in air. Ice crystals occur at very low temperatures in a stable atmosphere.Ice Fog(Also called ice-crystal fog, frozen fog, frost fog, frost flakes, air hoar, rime fog, pogonip.) A type of fog, composed of suspended particles of ice; partly ice crystals 20 to 100 micron in
diameter, but chiefly (especially when dense) ice particles about 12–20 micron in diameter, formed by direct freezing of supercooled water
droplets with little growth directly from the vapor. It occurs at very low temperatures, and usually in clear, calm weather in high latitudes.
The sun is usually visible and may cause halo phenomena. Ice fog is rare at temperatures warmer than -30°C, and increases in frequency with decreasing temperature until it is almost always present at air temperatures of -45°C in the vicinity of a source of water vapor. Such
sources are the open water of fast-flowing streams or of the sea, herds of animals, volcanoes, and especially products of combustion for heating or propulsion. At temperatures warmer than -30°C, these sources can cause steam fog of liquid water droplets, which may turn into ice fog when cooled (see frost smoke). See ice-crystal haze, arctic mist.Ice GorgeIn hydrologic terms, the gorge or opening left in a jam after it has broken.Ice JamIn hydrologic terms, a stationary accumulation that restricts or blocks streamflow.Ice NucleusAny particle that serves as a nucleus in the formation of ice crystals in the atmosphere.Ice Pellets(abbrev. IP) Same as Sleet; defined as pellets of ice composed of frozen or mostly frozen raindrops or refrozen partially melted snowflakes. These pellets of ice usually bounce after hitting the ground or other hard surfaces. A Winter Storm Warning is issued for sleet or a combination of sleet and snow based on total accumulation which is locally defined by area.Ice PushIn hydrologic terms, compression of an ice cover particularly at the front of a moving section of ice cover.Ice RunIn hydrologic terms, flow of ice in a river. An ice run may be light or heavy, and may consist of frazil, anchor, slush, or sheet iceIce ShoveIn hydrologic terms, on-shore ice push caused by wind, and currents, changes in temperature, etcetera.Ice StormAn ice storm is used to describe occasions when damaging accumulations of ice are expected during freezing rain situations. Significant accumulations of ice pull down trees and utility lines resulting in loss of power and communication. These accumulations of ice make walking and driving extremely dangerous. Significant ice accumulations are usually accumulations of ¼" or greater.Ice Storm WarningThis product is issued by the National Weather Service when freezing rain produces a significant and possibly damaging accumulation of ice. The criteria for this
warning varies from state to state, but typically will be issued any time more than 1/4" of ice is expected to accumulate in an area.Ice TwitchIn hydrologic terms, downstream movement of a small section of an ice cover. Ice twitches occur suddenly and often appear successively.IcebergA piece of a glacier which has broken off and is floating in the sea.Icelandic LowA semi-permanent, subpolar area of low pressure in the North Atlantic Ocean. Because of its broad area and range of central pressure, it is an area where migratory lows tend to slow down and deepen. It is strongest during a Northern Hemisphere winter and early spring, centered over Iceland and southern Greenland, and is the dominate weather feature in the area. During the summer, it is weaker, less intense, and might divide into two parts, one west of Iceland, the other over the Davis Strait between Greenland and Baffin Island. Then the Azores or Bermuda High becomes the dominate weather feature in the North Atlantic.IcingA coating of ice on a solid object.In-Cloud Lightning(abbrev. IC) Lightning that takes place within the cloud.Inactive Storage CapacityIn hydrologic terms, the portion of capacity below which the reservoir is not normally drawn, and which is provided for
sedimentation, recreation, fish and wildlife, aesthetic reasons, or for the creation of a minimum controlled operational or power head in
compliance with operating agreements or restrictions.Inch-DegreesThe product of rainfall (in inches) multiplied by the temperature (in degrees Fahrenheit) above freezing. Used as a measure of the snowmelting capacity of rainfall.Inches of Mercury(or in Hg) Unit of atmospheric pressure used in the United States. The name comes from the use of mercurial barometers which equate the height of a column of mercury with air pressure. One inch of mercury is equivalent to 33.86 millibars or 25.40 millimeters. See barometric pressure. First divised in 1644 by Evangelista Torricelli (1608-1647), an Italian physicist and mathematician, to explain the fundamental principles of hydromechanics.
To convert millibars (mb) to inches of mercury (in Hg), divide the millibar reading by 33.86:
in Hg = mb / 33.86Inches of RunoffIn hydrologic terms, the volume of water from runoff of a given depth over the entire drainageINCRIncreaseINDCIndicateIndirect HitGenerally refers to locations that do not experience a direct hit from a tropical
cyclone, but do experience hurricane force winds (either sustained or gusts) or tides
of at least 4 feet above normal.Industrial ConsumptionThe quantity of water consumed in a municipality or district for mechanical, trade, and manufacturing purposes, in a given period,
generally one day. The per capita use is generally based on the total population of the locality, municipality, or district. Infiltration CapacityIn hydrologic terms, the maximum rate at which water can enter the soil at a particular point under a given set of conditions.Inflow NotchA radar signature characterized by an indentation in the reflectivity pattern on the inflow side of the storm. The indentation often is V-shaped, but this term should not be confused with V-notch. Supercell thunderstorms often exhibit inflow notches, usually in the right quadrant of a classic supercell, but sometimes in the eastern part of an HP storm or in the rear part of a storm (rear inflow notch).InterceptionIn hydrologic terms, the process by which precipitation is caught and held by foliage, twigs, and branches of trees, shrubs, and other vegetation, and
lost by evaporation, never reaching the surface of the ground. Interception equals the precipitation on the vegetation minus
streamflow and through fall.Interception Storage RequirementsIn hydrologic terms, water caught by plants at the onset of a rainstorm. This must be met before rainfall reaches the ground.Intermediate Synoptic TimesThe times of 0300, 0900, 1500, and 2100 UTC.Interplanetary Magnetic Field(abbrev. IMF) In solar-terrestrial terms, the magnetic field carried with the
solar wind.Intertropical Convergence Zone(ITCZ) The region where the northeasterly and southeasterly trade winds converge, forming an often continuous band of clouds or thunderstorms near the equator. Intraseasonal OscillationOscillation with variability on a timescale less than a season. One example is the Madden-Julian Oscillation.Ionospheric StormA disturbance in the F region of the ionosphere, which
occurs in connection with geomagnetic activityIridescenceBrilliant spots or borders of colors in clouds, usually red and green, caused by diffraction of light by small cloud particles. The phenomenon is usually observed in thin cirrus clouds within about 30° of the sun and is characterized by bands of color in the cloud that contour the cloud edges.Iridescent CloudsClouds that exhibit brilliant bright spots, bands, or borders of colors, usually red and green, observed up to about 30 degrees from the sun. The coloration is due to the diffraction with small cloud particles producing the effect. It is usually seen in thin cirrostratus, cirrocumulus, and altocumulus clouds.Isentropic AnalysisA way in the forecaster can look at the atmosphere in 3-dimensions instead of looking at constant pressure surfaces (such as the 850 mb, 700 mb, 500 mb, etc.) which are in 2-dimensions. In this analysis method, the forecaster looks at constant potential temperature (the temperature that it would take if we compressed or expanded it adiabatically to the pressure of 1000 mb) surfaces. Air parcels move up and down these surfaces; therefore, the forecaster can see where the moisture is located and how much moisture is available.Isentropic LiftLifting of air that is traveling along an upward-sloping isentropic surface.
Isentropic lift often is referred to erroneously as overrunning, but more accurately describes the physical process by which the lifting occurs. Situations involving isentropic lift often are characterized by widespread stratiform clouds and precipitation, but may include elevated convection in the form of embedded thunderstorms.Isentropic SurfaceA two-dimensional surface containing points of equal potential temperature.Isobaric ChartA weather map representing conditions on a surface of equal atmospheric pressure. For example, a 500 mb chart will display conditions at the level of the atmosphere at which the atmospheric pressure is 500 mb. The height above sea level at which the pressure is that particular value may vary from one location to another at any given time, and also varies with time at any one location, so it does not represent a surface of constant altitude/height (i.e., the 500 mb level may be at a different height above sea level over Dallas than over New York).Isobaric ProcessAny thermodynamic change of state of a system that takes a place at constant pressure.IsochroneA line on a chart connecting equal times of occurrence of an event. In a weather analysis, a sequence plotted on a map of the frontal positions at several different
observation times would constitute a set of isochrones.IsotachA line connecting points of equal wind speed.IsotropicHaving the same characteristics in all directions, as with isotropic antennas. Directional or focused antennas are not isotropic.Issuance TimeThe time the product is transmitted. ITCZInter-tropical Convergence Zone. The region where the northeasterly and southeasterly tradewinds converge, forming an often continuous band of clouds or
thunderstorms near the equatorJet Stream CirrusA loose term for filamentous cirrus that appears to radiate from a point in the sky, and exhibits characteristics associated with strong vertical wind shear, such as twisted or curved filaments.JTWCJoint Typhoon Warning CenterK CoronaIn solar-terrestrial terms, of the white-light corona (that is, the corona seen by the eye at a
total solar eclipse), that portion which is caused by sunlight
scattered by electrons in the hot outer atmosphere of the sun.Katabatic WindA wind that is created by air flowing downhill.Keetch-Byrum Drought IndexAn index used to gage the severity of drought in deep duff and organic soils.Kelvin Temperature ScaleAn absolute temperature scale in which a change of 1 Kelvin equals a change of 1 degree Celsius; 0ºK is the lowest temperature on the Kelvin scale. The freezing point of water is +273ºK (Kelvin) and the boiling point of +373ºK. It is used primarily for scientific purposes. It is also known as the Absolute Temperature Scale.KilopascalThe internationally recognized unit used by the Atmospheric Environment Service for measuring atmospheric pressure. Abbreviated kPa.Kinetic EnergyEnergy that a body has as a result of its motion. Mathematically, it is defined as one-half the product of a body's mass and the square of its speed (KE = 1/2 * mass * velocity squared).KnucklesSlang for lumpy protrusions on the edges, and sometimes the underside, of a thunderstorm anvil. They usually appear on the upwind side of a back-sheared anvil, and
indicate rapid expansion of the anvil due to the presence of a very strong updraft. They are not mammatus clouds. See also cumuliform anvil and anvil rollover.Lake Effect SnowSnow showers that are created when cold, dry air passes over a large warmer lake, such as one of the Great Lakes, and picks up moisture and heat.Lake Effect Snow AdvisoryThis product is issued by the National Weather Service when pure lake effect snow (this is where the snow is a direct result of lake effect snow and not
because of a low pressure system) may pose a hazard or it is life threatening. The criteria for this advisory varies from area to area.Lake Effect Snow SquallA local, intense, narrow band of moderate to heavy snow squall that can extend long distances inland. It may persist for many hours. It may also be accompanied by strong, gusty, surface winds and possibly lightning. Accumulations can be 6 inches or more in 12 hours.Lake Effect Snow WarningThis product is issued by the National Weather Service when pure lake effect snow (this is where the snow is a direct result of lake effect snow and not because of a synoptic storm or low pressure system) may pose a hazard or it is life threatening.Lake Effect StormA fall or winter storm that produces heavy but localized precipitation as a result of temperature differences between the air over snow-covered ground and the air over the open waters of a lake.Lakeshore Flood WatchSee: COASTAL/LAKESHORE FLOOD WATCHLarge Scale(Synoptic Scale) Size scale referring generally to weather systems with horizontal dimensions of several hundred miles or more. Most high and low
pressure areas seen on weather maps are synoptic-scale systems.Layer Composite Reflectivity AverageThis WSR-88D radar product displays the average reflectivities for a layer. Data is taken from all elevation angles contained in a given layer for each grid box. It is available for 3 layers (low, mid, high). It is used to aid in determining storm intensity trends by comparing mid level layer composite products with a low level elevation angle base reflectivity product and aid in routing air traffic.Layer Composite Reflectivity MaximumThis WSR-88D radar product displays the maximum reflectivities for a layer. Data is taken from all elevation angles contained in a given layer for each grid box. It is available for 3 layers (low, mid, high). Currently, the low layer extends from the surface to 24,000 feet, the mid layer extends from 24,000 feet to 33,000 feet, and high layer extends above 33,000 feet. It is used to aid in determining storm intensity trends by comparing mid level layer composite products with a low level elevation angle base reflectivity product and aid in routing air traffic.LCD (Local Climatological Data)This National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) publication is produced monthly and annually for some 270 United States cities and it's territories. The
LCD summarizes temperature, relative humidity, precipitation, cloudiness, wind speed and direction observation. LCL1. Abbreviation for "local" or "locally"
2. Lifting Condensation Level - the level at which a parcel of moist air becomes saturated when it is lifted dry adiabatically.Lentic SystemIn hydrologic terms, a nonflowing or standing body of fresh water, such as a lake or pondLenticular CloudA very smooth, round or oval, lens-shaped cloud that is often seen, singly or stacked in groups, near or in the lee of a mountain ridge.Level of Free Convection(LFC) - The level at which a parcel of saturated air becomes warmer than the surrounding air and begins to rise freely. This occurs most readily in a conditionally unstable atmosphere.LFCAn acronym for Level of Free Convection- the level at which a parcel of saturated air becomes warmer than the surrounding air and begins to rise
freely. This occurs most readily in a conditionally unstable atmosphere. Lifting Condensation Level(LCL) - The level at which a parcel of moist air becomes saturated when it is lifted dry adiabatically.Lightning ChannelThe irregular path through the air along which a lightning discharge occurs.
A typical discharge of flash between the ground and the cloud is actually a composite flash
which is composed of several sequential lightning strokes, each of which is initiated by a leader
and terminated by a return streamer.Lightning DischargeThe series of electrical processes by which charge is transferred along a
channel of high ion density between electrical charge centers of opposite sign. This can be
between a cloud and the Earth's surface of a cloud-to-ground discharge.Line Echo Wave Pattern(abbrev. LEWP) A radar echo pattern formed when a segment of a line of thunderstorms surges forward at an accelerated rate.Line SourceAn array of pollutant sources along a defined path that can be treated in dispersion models as an aggregate uniform release of pollutants along a line. Example: the sum of emissions from individual cars traveling down a highway can be treated as a line source. Compare area source and point source.Live CapacityIn hydrologic terms, the total amount of storage capacity available in a reservoir for all purposes, from the dead storage level to the normal water or
normal pool level surface level. Does not include surcharge, or dead storage, but does include inactive storage, active conservation
storage and exclusive flood control storage.Local Convective WindIn fire weather terminology, local thermally driven winds arising over a comparatively small area and influenced by local terrain. Examples include sea and land breezes, lake breezes, diurnal mountain wind systems and columnar convective currents.Lock & Dam (L&D)Used in navigable rivers, lock and dams allow for large ships to move from one level of water to another.Loop Prominence System(abbrev. LPS) In solar-terrestrial terms, a system of loop prominences associated with
major flares.Lotic SystemIn hydrologic terms, a flowing body of fresh water, such as a river or stream.Low Frequency(abbrev. LF) The portion of the radio frequency spectrum from 30 to
300 kHz.LTLCGLittle ChangeMackeral SkyThe name given to cirrocumulus clouds with small vertical extent and composed of ice crystals. The rippled effect gives the appearance of fish scales. MacroburstA convective downdraft with an affected outflow area of at least 2½ miles wide and peak winds lasting between 5 and 20 minutes. Intense macrobursts may cause tornado-force damage of up to F3 intensity.MacroscaleLarge scale, characteristic of weather systems several hundred to several thousand kilometers in diameter.Madden-Julian Oscillation(abbrev. MJO)- Tropical rainfall exhibits strong variability on time scales shorter than the seasonal El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). These fluctuations in tropical rainfall often go through an entire cycle in 30-60 days, and are referred to as the Madden-Julian Oscillation or intraseasonal oscillations. The intraseasonal oscillations are a naturally occurring component of our coupled ocean-atmosphere system. They significantly affect the atmospheric circulation throughout the global Tropics and subtropics, and also strongly affect the wintertime jet stream and atmospheric circulation features over the North Pacific and western North America. As a result, they have an important impact on storminess and temperatures over the United States. During the summer these oscillations have a modulating effect on hurricane activity in both the Pacific and Atlantic basins.Magnetic BayIn solar-terrestrial terms, a relatively smooth excursion of the H (horizontal) component
of the geomagnetic field away from and
returning to quiet levels.Main Synoptic TimesThe times of 0000, 0600, 1200, and 1800 UTC. Also known as the standard synoptic times. Major HurricaneA hurricane which reaches Category 3 (sustained winds greater than 110 mph) on the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale. Mammatus CloudsRounded, smooth, sack-like protrusions hanging from the underside of a cloud (usually a thunderstorm anvil). Mammatus clouds often accompany severe thunderstorms, but do not produce severe weather; they may accompany non-severe storms as well.MARC Velocity SignatureA Doppler radar-velocity based precursor towards forecasting the initial onset of damaging straight-line winds in a linear Quasi_Linear Convective System (QLCS) or bowing convective system.Marine Small Craft Thunderstorm AdvisoryA marine warning issued by Environment Canada
Atmospheric Environment Branch when the possibility of thunderstorms is greater than 40
percent.Marine Small Craft Wind WarningA marine warning issued by Environment Canada
Atmospheric Environment Branch for winds which are forecasted to be in the 20-33 knot range
inclusive.Maritime Tropical Air MassAn air mass characterized by warm, moist air. Abbreviated mT.Max Parcel Level (MPL)This signifies the highest attainable level that a convective updraft can reach; therefore, it is a good indication of how tall a thunderstorm may reach.Maximum Spillway DischargeIn hydrologic terms, spillway discharge (cfs) when reservoir is at maximum designed water surface elevation.Maximum Sustained Surface WindWhen applied to a particular weather system, refers to the highest one-minute average wind (at an elevation of 10 meters with an unobstructed exposure) associated with that weather system at a particular point in time. Maximum Unambiguous VelocityThe highest radial velocity that can be measured unambiguously by a pulsed Doppler radar. The maximum unambiguous velocity is related to the radar's successive pulses of emitted energy. When a target's velocity exceeds the maximum unambiguous velocity, the velocity will be "folded" to appear as a different velocity.MCCMesoscale Convective Complex. A large MCS, generally round or oval-shaped, which normally reaches peak intensity at night. The formal definition includes specific minimum criteria for size, duration, and eccentricity (i.e., "roundness"), based on the cloud shield as seen on infrared satellite photographs:
- Size: Area of cloud top -32 degrees C or less: 100,000 square kilometers or more (slightly smaller than the state of Ohio), and area of cloud top -52 degrees C or less: 50,000 square kilometers or more
- Duration: Size criteria must be met for at least 6 hours
- Eccentricity: Minor/major axis at least 0.7
MCCs typically form during the afternoon and evening in the form of several isolated thunderstorms, during which time the potential for severe weather is greatest. During peak intensity, the primary threat shifts toward heavy rain and flooding.MCSMesoscale Convective System. Mesoscale Convective System. A complex of thunderstorms which becomes organized on a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms, and normally persists for several hours or more. MCSs may be round or linear in shape, and include systems such as tropical cyclones, squall lines, and Mesoscale Convective Complexes (MCCs) (among others). MCS often is used to describe a cluster of thunderstorms that does not satisfy the size, shape, or duration criteria of an Mesoscale Convective Complex.MCVmesoscale cyclonic vortices Mean Areal Precipitation(abbrev. MAP)- The average rainfall over a given area, generally expressed as an average depth over the area.Mean Doppler VelocityReflectivity-weighted average velocity of targets in a given pulse resolution volume. Usually determined from a large number of successive radar pulses. Also called mean radial (towards or away from the antenna) velocity. Doppler velocity refers to spectral density first moment, radial velocity to base data.Measured CeilingA ceiling classification applied when the ceiling value has been determined by an instrument, such as a ceilometer or ceiling light, or by the known heights of unobscured portions of objects, other than natural landmarks, near the runway. See variable ceiling. Medium Frequency(abbrev. MF)- That portion of the radio frequency spectrum from 0.3
to 3 MHz.Medium Range Forecast (MRF)A configuration of the National Water Model (NWM) that runs every 6 hours and produces 3-hourly deterministic forecasts of streamflow and hydrologic states for the contiguous United States (ConUS). This configuration is an ensemble forecast with 7 members; member 1 extends out to 10 days, while members 2-7 extend out to 8.5 days. Meteorological forcing data are drawn from the GFS.MeniscusIn hydrologic terms, the curved surface of the liquid at the open end of a capillary columnMercury BarometerAn instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure. The instrument contains an evacuated and graduated glass tube in which mercury rises or falls as the pressure of the atmosphere increases or decreases.MesoclimateThe climate of a small area of the earth's surface which may differ from the general climate of the district.Mesocyclone(abbrev. MESO)- A storm-scale region of rotation, typically around 2-6 miles in diameter and often found in the right rear flank of a supercell (or often on the eastern, or front, flank of an HP storm). The circulation of a mesocyclone covers an area much larger than the tornado that may develop within it. Properly used, mesocyclone is a radar term; it is defined as a rotation signature appearing on Doppler radar that meets specific criteria for magnitude, vertical depth, and duration. It will appear as a yellow solid circle on the Doppler velocity products. Therefore, a mesocyclone should not be considered a visually-observable phenomenon (although visual evidence of rotation, such as curved inflow bands, may imply the presence of a mesocyclone).MesoscaleSize scale referring to weather systems smaller than synoptic-scale systems but larger than
storm-scale systems. Horizontal dimensions generally range from around 50 miles to several hundred miles.
Squall lines, MCCs, and MCSs are examples of mesoscale weather systemsMesoscale Convective Complex(abbrev. MCC)- MCC - Mesoscale Convective Complex. A large Mesoscale Convective System (MCS), generally round or oval-shaped, which normally reaches peak intensity at night. The formal definition includes specific minimum criteria for size, duration, and eccentricity (i.e., "roundness"), based on the cloud shield as seen on infrared satellite photographs:
* Size: Area of cloud top -32 degrees C or less: 100,000 square kilometers or more (slightly smaller than the state of Ohio), and area of cloud top -52 degrees C or less: 50,000 square kilometers or more.
* Duration: Size criteria must be met for at least 6 hours.
* Eccentricity: Minor/major axis at least 0.7.
MCCs typically form during the afternoon and evening in the form of several isolated thunderstorms, during which time the potential for severe weather is greatest. During peak intensity, the primary threat shifts toward heavy rain and flooding.Mesoscale Convective System(MCS): A complex of thunderstorms which becomes organized on
a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms, and normally persists for several hours or more.
MCSs may be round or linear in shape, and include systems such as tropical cyclones, squall
lines, and MCCs (among others). MCS often is used to describe a cluster of thunderstorms that
does not satisfy the size, shape, or duration criteria of an MCC. Mesoscale DiscussionWhen conditions actually begin to shape up for severe weather, SPC (Storm Prediction Center) often issues a Mesoscale Discussion (MCD) statement anywhere from roughly half an hour to several hours before issuing a weather watch. SPC also puts out MCDs for hazardous winter weather events on the mesoscale, such as locally heavy snow, blizzards and freezing rain (see below). MCDs are also issued on occasion for heavy rainfall, convective trends, and other phenomena, when the forecaster feels he/she can provide useful information that is not readily available or apparent to field forecasters. MCDs are based on mesoscale analysis and interpretation of observations and of short term, high resolution numerical model output.
The MCD basically describes what is currently happening, what is expected in the next few hours, the meteorological reasoning for the forecast, and when/where SPC plans to issue the watch (if dealing with severe thunderstorm potential). Severe thunderstorm MCDs can help you get a little extra lead time on the weather and allow you to begin gearing up operations before a watch is issued. The MCD begins with a numerical string that gives the LAT/LON coordinates of a polygon that loosely describes the area being discussed.Mesoscale High WindsThese high winds usually follow the passage of organized convective systems and are associated with wake depressions or strong mesohighs.Meteoric WaterWater derived from precipitation. Meteorological Model Ensemble River Forecast (MMEFS)An automated short-term hydrologic ensemble forecast system which utilizes temperature and precipitation output from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) GEFS and NAEFS meteorological models as inputs to River Forecast Center hydrologic models.MICMeteorologist In ChargeMicrobarographA instrument designed to continuously record a barometer's reading of very small changes in atmospheric pressure. MicroburstA convective downdraft with an affected outflow area of less than 2½ miles wide and peak winds lasting less than 5 minutes. Microbursts may induce dangerous horizontal/vertical wind shears, which can adversely affect aircraft performance and cause property damage.MicroclimateThe climate of a small area such as a cave, house, city or valley that may be different from that in the general region.MicronUnit of length equal to one thousandth (1/1000) of a millimeter; one millionth (1/1000000) of a meter (1x10-6 m).MicroscalePertaining to meteorological phenomena, such as wind circulations or cloud patterns, that are less than 2 km in horizontal extent.MicrowaveA type of electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths between those of infrared radiation and radio waves.Microwave BurstIn solar-terrestrial terms, a radiowave signal associated with optical and/or X-ray
flaresMid-level CoolingLocal cooling of the air in middle levels of the atmosphere (roughly 8 to 25 thousand feet), which can lead to destabilization of the entire atmosphere if all other factors are equal.Middle Clouds(or Mid-Level Clouds) - A term used to signify clouds with bases between 6,500 and 23,000 feet. At the higher altitudes, they may also have some ice crystals, but they are composed mainly of water droplets. Altocumulus, altostratus, and nimbostratus are the main types of middle clouds. This altitude applies to the temperate zone. In the polar regions, these clouds may be found at lower altitudes. In the tropics, the defining altitudes for cloud types are generally higher. Mie ScatteringAny scattering produced by spherical particles whose diameters are greater than
1/10 the wavelength of the scattered radiation. This type of scattering causes the clouds to
appear white in the sky. Often, hail exhibits in this type of scattering.Minimum Discernible SignalIn a receiver, it is the smallest input signal that will a produce a detectable signal at the output. In radar terms, it is the minimal amount of back scattered energy that is required to produce a target on the radar screen. In other words, MDS is a measure of the radar's sensitivity. MISCMiscellaneousMisoscaleThe scale of meteorological phenomena that ranges in size from 40 meters to about 4 kilometers. It includes rotation within a thunderstorm.Mixed PrecipitationAny of the following combinations of freezing and frozen precipitation: snow and sleet, snow and freezing rain, or sleet alone. Rain may also be present.MLCAPEMean Layer CAPE - CAPE calculated using a parcel consisting of Mean Layer values of temperature and moisture from the lowest 100 mb above ground level. See Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE).Model Output Statistics(abbrev. MOS) - the Hydrometeorological Center (HPC) produces a short range (6 to 60 hours) MOS (Model Output Statistics) guidance package generated from the NGM, GFS, and ETA models for over 300 individual stations in the continental United States. These alphanumeric messages are made available at approximately 0400 and 1600 UTC for the 0000 and 1200 UTC forecast cycles, respectively. Model Output Statistics are a set of statistical equations that use model output to forecast the probability of precipitation, high and low temperature, cloud cover, and precipitation amount for many cities across the USA. The statistical equations were specifically tailored for each location, taking into account factors such as each location's climate.Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate(abbrev. MALR)- The rate at which the temperature of a parcel of saturated air decreases as the parcel is lifted in the atmosphere. The moist adiabatic lapse rate (abbreviated MALR) is not a constant like the dry adiabatic lapse rate but is dependent on parcel temperature and pressure.Moist-adiabatic(Also known as saturation-adiabatic process.) An adiabatic process for which the air is saturated and may contain liquid water. A distinction is made between the reversible process, in which total water is conserved, and the pseudoadiabatic or irreversible moist adiabatic process, in which liquid water is assumed to be removed as soon as it is condensed.Moisture AdvectionTransport of moisture by horizontal winds.Moisture ConvergenceA measure of the degree to which moist air is converging into a given area, taking into account the effect of converging winds and moisture advection. Areas of persistent moisture convergence are favored regions for thunderstorm development, if other factors (e.g., instability) are favorable.MoleculeThe smallest particle of a substance that retains the properties of the substance and is composed of one or more atoms.Monostatic RadarA radar that uses a common antenna for both transmitting and receiving.Monthly Climatological ReportThis climatological product is issued once a month by each
National Weather Service office. It is a mix of tabular and narrative information. It is organized so
that similar items are grouped together (i.e., temperature, precipitation, wind, heating/cooling
degree information, etc.). Mostly ClearWhen the 1/8th to 2/8ths of the sky is covered by with opaque (not transparent) clouds. Sometimes referred to as Mostly Sunny if this condition is present during daylight hours.Mostly CloudyWhen the 6/8th to 7/8ths of the sky is covered by with opaque (not transparent) clouds. Same as Considerable Cloudiness. Mount Wilson Magnetic ClassificationsIn solar-terrestrial terms, a classification system for sunspots:
Multicell ThunderstormThese thunderstorms are organized in clusters of at least 2-4 short-lived cells. Each cell generates a cold air outflow and these individual outflows combine to form a large gust front. Convergence along the gust front causes new cells to develop every 5 to 15 minutes. The cells move roughly with the mean wind. However, the area (storm) motion usually deviates significantly from the mean wind due to discrete propagation (new cell development) along the gust front. The multicellular nature of the storm is usually apparent on radar with multiple reflectivity cores and maximum tops.Municipal Use of WaterIn hydrologic terms, the various uses to which water is put to use developed urban areas, including domestic use, industrial use, street sprinkling, fire
protection, etc.Nacreous CloudsClouds of unknown composition that have a soft, pearly luster and that form at altitudes about 25 to 30 km above the Earth's surface. They are also called "mother-of-the-pearl clouds."National Climatic Data CenterThe agency that archives climatic data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, as well as other climatological organizations.National Digital Forecast Database(NDFD)- The National Weather Service's NDFD provides access to gridded forecasts of sensible weather elements (e.g., wind, wave height) through the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD). NDFD contains a seamless mosaic of digital forecasts from NWS field offices working in collaboration with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The database is made available to all customers and partners from the public, private and academic sectors. Those customers and partners may use this data to create a wide range of text, graphic, gridded and image products of their own. National Hurricane Center One of three branches of the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC). This center maintains a continuous watch on tropical cyclones over the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific from 15 May through November 30. The Center prepares and distributes hurricane watches and warnings for the general public, and also prepares and distributes marine and military advisories for other users. During the "off-season" NHC provides training for U.S. emergency managers and representatives from many other countries that are affected by tropical cyclones. NHC also conducts applied research to evaluate and improve hurricane forecasting techniques, and is involved in public awareness programs.National Hurricane Operations Plan(NHOP) - The NHOP is issued annually by the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research. It documents interdepartmental agreements relating to tropical cyclone observing, warning, and forecasting services. National Hurricane Center (NHC), Central Pacific Hurricane Center (CPHC), and the JTWC serve as the principal offices in coordinating the day-to-day activities of the NWS in support of the Plan in their region of responsibility. National Hydrologic Discussion (NHD)A discussion of the current and forecast hydrologic conditions across the nation, including a variety of short and medium range (Days 1-10) observed and modeled hydrologic guidance.National Water Model Medium-Range Forecast (NWM MRF)A 10-day streamflow forecast for the over 3.6 million waterway miles across the Nation, forced by the GFS and updated every 6 hours.National Water Model Short-Range Forecast (NWM SRF)An 18-hour streamflow forecast for the over 3.4 million waterway miles across the Nation, forced by the HRRR and updated hourly.National Weather and Crop SummaryA product of the National Agricultural Statistics Service,
Agricultural Statistics Board, and U.S. Department of Agriculture. It contains weekly national
agricultural weather summaries, including the weather's effect on crops; summaries and farm
progress for 44 states and New England area.Natural ControlIn hydrologic terms, a stream gaging control which is natural to the stream channel, in contrast to an artificial control structure by man.Nautical DawnThe time at which the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon in the morning. Nautical dawn is defined as that time at which there is just enough sunlight for objects to be distiguishable. Nautical DuskThe time at which the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon in the evening. At this time, objects are no longer distinguishable. Nautical MileA unit of distance used in marine navigation and marine forecasts. It is equal to 1.15 statue miles or 1852 meters. It is also the length of 1 minute of latitude.Nautical TwilightThe time after civil twilight, when the brighter stars used for celestial navigation have appeared and the horizon may still be seen. It ends when the center of the sun is 12 degrees below the horizon, and it is too difficult to perceive the horizon, preventing accurate sighting of stars.NAVTEX Forecast(NAV) - A National Weather Service marine forecast combining various Coastal Waters and Offshore forecasts, optimized to accommodate transmission via NAVTEX. NC1. No change
- Alpha: Denotes a unipolar sunspot group.
- Beta: A sunspot group having both positive and negative magnetic polarities, with a simple and distinct division between the polarities.
- Beta-Gamma: A sunspot group that is bipolar but in which no continuous line can be drawn separating spots of opposite polarities.
- Delta: A complex magnetic configuration of a solar sunspot group consisting of opposite polarity umbrae within the same penumbra.
- Gamma: A complex active region in which the positive and negative polarities are so irregularly distributed as to prevent classification as a bipolar group.
2. North CarolinaNCARNational Center for Atmospheric ResearchNCCFNOAA Central Computer FacilityNCDCNational Climatic Data Center NCEPNational Centers for Environmental Prediction. A part of the National Weather Service which provides nationwide computerized and manual guidance to
Warning and Forecast Offices concerning the forecast of basic weather elements.NDBCNational Data Buoy Center Nearshore Forecast(NSH) - National Weather Service seasonal marine forecasts for an areas of the Great Lakes extending from a line approximating mean low water datum along the coast or an island, including bays, harbors, and sounds, out to 5 nm. These forecasts are normally issued from Daylight Savings Time ~April 7 through December 31, though the dates may be shortened or extended based on local/regional requirements. NECNecessaryNegative Vorticity Advection(Abbrev. NVA) - the advection of lower values of vorticity into an area.NHCNational Hurricane Center - one of three branches of the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC). This center maintains a continuous watch on tropical cyclones over the Atlantic, Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, and the Eastern Pacific from 15 May through November 30. The Center prepares and distributes hurricane watches and warnings for the general public, and also prepares and distributes marine and military advisories for other users. During the "off-season" NHC provides training for U.S. emergency managers and representatives from many other countries that are affected by tropical cyclones. NHC also conducts applied research to evaluate and improve hurricane forecasting techniques, and is involved in public awareness programs.NMCNational Meteorological CenterNoctilucent CloudsWavy, thin, bluish-white clouds that are best seen at twilight in polar latitudes. They form at altitudes about 80 to 90 km above the Earth's surface.NocturnalRelated to nighttime; occurring at night.Nocturnal InversionUsed interchangably with Radiational Inversion; a temperature inversion that develops during the night as a result of radiational cooling of the surface. Because the immediate surface (lower Boundary Layer) cools much more rapidly during radiational cooling conditions than the air just above (upper Boundary Layer), a temperature inversion can be created overnight, but typically erodes quickly after sunrise.Nocturnal JetThis wind speed maximum occurs just above the nocturnal inversion at night. It is typically found in the south central United States during the late spring and summer months. It is important in the development of Mesoscale Convective Complexes (MCC) or Mesoscale Convective Systems (MCS).Nocturnal ThunderstormsThunderstorms which develop after sunset. They are often associated with the strengthening of the low level jet and are most common over the Plains states. They also occur over warm water and may be associated with the seaward extent of the overnight land breeze.NOHRSCIn hydrologic terms, the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. An organization under the National Weather Service Office of
Hydrology (OH) that mainly deals with snow mapping.Non-Uniform Sky ConditionA localized sky condition which varies from that reported in the body of the report.Normal Water Surface ElevationIn hydrologic terms, the lowest crest level of overflow on a reservoir with a fixed overflow level (spillway crest elevation). For a reservoir whose
outflow is controlled wholly or partly by movable gates, siphons, or other means, it is the maximum level to which water may rise
under normal operating conditions, exclusive of any provision for flood surcharge.North American Ensemble Forecast System (NAEFS)An atmospheric ensemble of 20 members each from the NCEP GEFS and CMC EPS ensemble systems.North American Mesoscale Forecast System (NAM)One of the major weather models run by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) for producing weather forecasts.North Atlantic Oscillation(Abbrev. NAO) - the NAO is a large-scale fluctuation in atmospheric pressure between the subtropical high pressure system located near the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean and the sub-polar low pressure system near Iceland and is quantified in the NAO Index. The surface pressure drives surface winds and wintertime storms from west to east across the North Atlantic affecting climate from New England to western Europe as far eastward as central Siberia and eastern Mediterranean and southward to West Africa.North Pacific HighA semi-permanent, subtropical area of high pressure in the North Pacific Ocean. It is strongest in the Northern Hemispheric summer and is displaced towards the equator during the winter when the Aleutian Low becomes more dominate. Comparable systems are the Azores High and the Bermuda High.NowcastA short-term weather forecast, generally out to six hours or less. This is also called a Short Term Forecast.NSSFCNational Severe Storm Forecast CenterNumerical ForecastingA computer forecast or prediction based on equations governing the motions and the forces affecting motion of fluids. The equations are based, or initialized, on specified weather or climate conditions at a certain place and time.Numerical Weather PredictionSame as Numerical Forecasting; a computer forecast or prediction based on equations governing the motions and the forces affecting motion of fluids. The equations are based, or initialized, on specified weather or climate conditions at a certain place and time. OBSCObscureObscurationAny atmospheric phenomenon, except clouds, that restricts vertical visibility (e.g., dust, rain, snow, etc.). Obscuring PhenomenaAny atmospheric phenomenon, except clouds, that restricts vertical visibility (e.g., dust, rain, snow, etc.).Occluded FrontA composite of two fronts, formed as a cold front overtakes a warm or quasi-stationary front. Two types of occlusions can form depending on the relative coldness of the air behind the cold front to the air ahead of the warm or stationary front. A cold occlusion results when the coldest air is behind the cold front and a warm occlusion results when the coldest air is ahead of the warm front.Occluded MesocycloneA mesocyclone in which air from the rear-flank downdraft has completely enveloped the circulation at low levels, cutting off the inflow of warm unstable low-level air.OceanographyThe study of the ocean, embracing and integrating all knowledge pertaining to the ocean's physical boundaries, the chemistry and physics of sea water, and marine biology.OCFNTOccluded Front - a composite of two fronts, formed as a cold front overtakes a warm or quasi-stationary front. Two types of occlusions can form depending on the relative coldness of the air behind the cold front to the air ahead of the warm or stationary front. A cold occlusion results when the coldest air is behind the cold front and a warm occlusion results when the coldest air is ahead of the warm front.OCNLOccasionalOffice of Global ProgramsThe Office of Global Programs (OGP) sponsors focused scientific research, within approximately eleven research elements, aimed at understanding climate variability and its predictability. Through studies in these areas, researchers coordinate activities that jointly contribute to improved predictions and assessments of climate variability over a continuum of timescales from season to season, year to year, and over the course of a decade and beyond.Offshore Waters Forecast(OFF) - A National Weather Service marine forecast product for that portion of the oceans, gulfs, and seas beyond the coastal waters extending to a specified distance from the coastline, to a specified depth contour, or covering an area defined by specific latitude and longitude points. OPCOcean Prediction Center (Formally the Marine Prediction Center. An NCEP center which produces marine forecasts north of 30oN. Open Lakes Forecast(GLF) - A National Weather Service marine forecast product for the U.S. waters within a Great Lake not including the waters covered by an existing Nearshore Waters Forecast (NSH). When the seasonal Nearshore forecast is not issued, the Open Lake forecast includes a forecast of nearshore waters. Operational ProductsA product that has been fully tested and evaluated and is produced on a regular and ongoing basis.OrificeIn hydrologic terms,
(1) An opening with closed perimeter, usually sharp edged, and of regular form in a plate, wall, or partition through which water
may flow, generally used for the purpose of measurement or control of water.
(2) The end of a small tube, such as a Pitot tube,
piezometer, etc. OrographicRelated to, or caused by, physical geography (such as mountains or sloping terrain).Orographic LiftingSame as Upslope Flow; occurs when air is forced to rise and cool due to terrain features such as hills or mountains. If the cooling is sufficient, water vapor condenses into clouds. Additional cooling results in rain or snow. It can cause extensive cloudiness and increased amounts of precipitation in higher terrain.Orographic PrecipitationPrecipitation which is caused by hills or mountain ranges deflecting the moisture-laden air masses upward, causing them to cool and precipitate their moisture.Orographic UpliftSame as Orographic Lifting; occurs when air is forced to rise and cool due to terrain features such as hills or mountains. If the cooling is sufficient, water vapor condenses into clouds. Additional cooling results in rain or snow. It can cause extensive cloudiness and increased amounts of precipitation in higher terrain. Orographic WavesA wavelike airflow produced over and in the lee of a mountain barrier.OscillationA shift in position of various high and low pressure systems that in climate terms is usually defined as an index (i.e., a single numerically-derived number, that represents the distribution of temperature and pressure over a wide ocean area, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, and Pacific Decadal Oscillation).Outer Convective BandBands in a hurricane that occur in advance of main rain shield and up to 300 miles from the eye of the hurricane. The typical hurricane has two or three bands (and sometimes more) which are comprised of cells resembling ordinary thunderstorms. Wind gusts are usually higher in these bands than in the Pre-Hurricane Squall Line.Outflow ChannelIn hydrologic terms, a natural stream channel which transports reservoir releases.Outlet Discharge StructureIn hydrologic terms, protects the downstream end of the outlet pipe from erosion and is often designed to slow down the velocity of released water to
prevent erosion of the stream channelOVCOvercast- An official sky cover classification for aviation weather observations, when the sky is completely covered by an obscuring phenomenon. This is applied only when obscuring phenomenon aloft are present--that is, not when obscuring phenomenon are surface-based, such as fogOvercast(Abbrev. OVC)- An official sky cover classification for aviation weather observations, when the sky is completely covered by an obscuring phenomenon. This is applied only when obscuring phenomenon aloft are present--that is, not when obscuring phenomenon are surface-based, such as fog.Ozone Action DayA "heads-up" message issued by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) through the National Weather Service when ozone levels may reach dangerous levels the next day. This message encourages residents to prevent air pollution by postponing the use of lawn mowing, motor vehicles, boats, as well as filling their vehicle gas tanks.PACPacificPacific Decadal Oscillation(Abbrev. PDO) - a recently described pattern of climate variation similar to ENSO though on a timescale of decades and not seasons. It is characterized by SST anomalies of one sign in the north-central Pacific and SST anomalies of another sign to the north and east near the Aleutians and the Gulf of Alaska. It primarily affects weather patterns and sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and northern Pacific Islands.Pancake IceIn hydrologic terms, circular flat pieces of ice with a raised rim; the shape and rim are due to repeated collisionsParcelA volume of air small enough to contain uniform distribution of its meteorological properties and large enough to remain relatively self-contained and respond to all meteorological processes.Particle Trajectory ModelA computer sub-model that tracks the trajectories of multiple particles that are released into an atmospheric flow model.Partly CloudyBetween 3/8 and 5/8 of the sky is covered by clouds.PascalThe unit of pressure produced when one newton acts on one square meter (1 N/m2). It is abbreviated Pa.PC-GRIDDSPC-Gridded Interactive Display and Diagnostic System - Allows the forecaster to view fields of gridded model output in contour or vector format. By doing this, the forecaster can extract relevant information from the numerical model grid-point data.PCPNPrecipitationPCTprecentPDS WatchThe Particularly Dangerous Situation (PDS) wording is used in rare situations when long-lived, strong and violent tornadoes are possible. This enhanced wording may also accompany severe thunderstorm watches for intense convective wind storms.Peak DischargeIn hydrologic terms, the rate of discharge of a volume of water passing a given locationPendant EchoRadar signature generally similar to a hook echo, except that the hook shape is not as well defined.Perched GroundwaterIn hydrologic terms, local saturated zones above the water table which exist above an impervious layer of limited extent.PercolationIn hydrologic terms, the movement of water, under hydrostatic pressure, through the interstices of a rock or soil, except the movement through large
openings such as cavesPercolation PathIn hydrologic terms, the course followed by water moving or percolating through any other permeable material, or under a dam which rests upon a
permeable foundation.Permeability CoefficientIn hydrologic terms, the rate of flow of a fluid through a cross section of a porous mass under a unit hydraulic gradient, at a temperature of 60 degrees
Fahrenheit.PersistenceContinuation of existing conditions. When a physical parameter
varies slowly, the best prediction is often persistencePersistence ForecastA forecast that the current weather condition will persist and that future weather will be the same as the present (e.g., if it is raining today, a forecast predicting rain tonight).Phenomenological ModelA computer model used to calculate air pollution concentrations. A phenomenological model focuses on an individual phenomenon, such as plume impingement or fumigation.Photochemical SmogAir pollution containing ozone and other reactive chemical compounds formed by the reaction of nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons in the presence of sunlight.Phreatic waterIn hydrologic terms, water within the earth that supplies wells and springs; water in the zone of saturation where all openings in rocks and soil are filled,
the upper surface of which forms the water table. Also termed Groundwater.Plage CorridorIn solar-terrestrial terms, a space in chromospheric plage lacking plage intensity, coinciding with polarity inversion line.Plan Position IndicatorAn acronym for Plan Position Indicator. A PPI displays radar data horizontally using a map projection. In PPI mode, the radar makes a 360-degree sweep with the antenna at a specific elevation angle. A PPI display is the familiar radar display shown on the television weather programs.Point PrecipitationPrecipitation at a particular site, in contrast to the mean precipitation over an area.Point SourceA pollutant source that can be treated in a dispersion model as though pollutants were emitted from a single point that is fixed in space. Example: the mouth of a smokestack. Compare area source and line source.Polar Cap Absorption (PCA)In solar-terrestrial terms, an anomalous condition of the polar ionosphere whereby HF and VHF (3 - 300 MHz) radiowaves are absorbed, and LF and VLF (3 - 300 kHz) radiowaves are reflected at lower altitudes than normal. In practice, the absorption is inferred from the proton flux at energies greater than 10 MeV, so that PCAs and
proton events are simultaneous. Transpolar radio paths may still be disturbed for days, up to weeks, following the end of a proton event.Popcorn ConvectionSlang for showers and thunderstorms that form on a scattered basis with little or no apparent organization, usually during the afternoon in response to diurnal heating. Individual thunderstorms typically are of the type sometimes referred to as air-mass thunderstorms: they are small, short-lived, very rarely severe, and they almost always dissipate near or just after sunset.Positive Cloud to Ground LightningA CG flash that delivers positive charge to the ground, as opposed to the more common negative charge. Positive CGs have been found to occur more frequently in some severe thunderstorms. Their occurrence is detectable by most lightning detection networks, but visually it is not considered possible to distinguish between a positive CG and a negative CG. (Some claim to have observed a relationship between staccato lightning and positive CGs, but this relationship is as yet unproven.)Positive Vorticity Advection(Abbrev. PVA) - Advection of higher values of vorticity into an area, which often
is associated with upward motion (lifting) of the air. PVA typically is found in advance of
disturbances aloft (i.e., shortwaves), and is a property which often enhances the potential for
thunderstorm development.Potential VorticityThis plays an important role in the generation of vorticity in cyclogenesis, especially along the polar front. It is also very useful in tracing intrusions of stratospheric air deep into the troposphere in the vicinity of jet streaks.PRCPPrecipitationPre-Hurricane Squall LineIt is often the first serious indication that a hurricane is approaching. It is a generally a straight line and resembles a squall-line that occurs with a mid-latitude cold front. It is as much as 50 miles or even more before the first ragged rain echoes of the hurricane's bands and is usually about 100 to 200 miles ahead of the eye, but it has been observed to be as much as 500 miles ahead of the eye in the largest hurricanes.PRECDPrecedePrecipitable WaterMeasure of the depth of liquid water at the surface that would result after precipitating all of the water vapor in a vertical column over a given location, usually extending from the surface to 300 mb.PrecipitationThe process where water vapor condenses in the atmosphere to form water droplets that fall to the Earth as rain, sleet, snow, hail, etc.Precipitation AttenuationThe loss of energy that radar beam experiences as it passes through an area of precipitation.Precipitation ModeThe standard, or default, operational mode of the WSR-88D. The radar automatically switches into precipitation mode from clear-air mode if the measured reflectivity exceeds a specific threshold value. The precipitation mode of NEXRAD is more sensitive than previous weather radars. The minimum detectable reflectivity in NEXRAD's precipitation mode is 5 dBZ, compared to 28 dBZ with the old WSR-57.Precipitation Processing SystemThe WSR-88D system that generates 1-hour running, 3-hourly, and running storm total precipitation accumulations. Five functional steps are performed to calculate the best estimate of precipitation: 1) development of a sectorized hybrid scan, 2) conversion to precipitation rate, 3) precipitation accumulation, 4) adjustment using rain gages, 5) product update.PrecisionThe accuracy with which a number can be represented, i.e., the number of digits used to represent a number.Prescribed FireA management ignited or natural wildland fire that burns under specified conditions where the fire is confined to a predetermined area and produces the fire behavior and fire characteristics required to attain planned fire treatment and resource management objectives.Pressure ChangeThe net difference between the barometric pressure at the beginning and ending of a specified interval of time, usually the three hour period preceding an observation.Pressure CharacteristicThe pattern of the pressure change during the specified period of time, usually the three hour period preceding an observation. This is recorded in three categories: falling, rising, or steady.Pressure CoupletIt is an area where you have a high pressure area located adjacent to a low pressure area.Pressure Gradient ForceA three-dimensional force vector operating in the atmosphere that accelerates air parcels away from regions of high pressure and toward regions of low pressure in response to an air pressure gradient. Usually resolved into vertical and horizontal components.Pressure IceFloating sea, river, or lake ice that has been deformed, altered, or forced upward in pressure ridges by the lateral stresses of any combination of wind, water currents, tides, waves, and surf.Pressure Induced WaveA rare type of wave that does not develop from wind or seismic activity. Instead, these waves develop as a pressure perturbation moves over the water surface. The water surface adjusts to account for the atmospheric pressure change. As atmospheric pressure decreases, the force exerted upward by the water increases, creating a pressure induced wave. Pressure TendencyThe character and amount of atmospheric pressure change during a specified period of time, usually 3-hour period preceding an observation.Pressure-driven ChannelingChanneling of wind in a valley by synoptic-scale pressure gradients superimposed along the valley's axis. Compare forced channeling.Prevention of Significant DeteriorationA program, specified in the Clean Air Act, whose goal is to prevent air quality from deteriorating significantly in areas of the country that are presently meeting the ambient air quality standards.Primary Control Tide Station A tide station where continuous observations have been made for a minimum of 19 years. Its purpose is to provide data for computing accepted values essential to tide predictions and for determining tidal datums for coastal and marine boundaries. The data series from primary control tide stations serves as a primary control for the reduction of tidal datum for subordinate tide stations with a shorter period of record. The 19 year period is the official tidal epoch for calculating tidal datums.Primary Swell DirectionPrevailing direction of swell propagation.Probability ForecastA forecast of the probability that one or more of a mutually exclusive set of weather conditions will occur.Probability of Precipitation(Abbrev. PoP)- The probability that precipitation will be reported at a certain location during a specified period of time.
Probability of Tropical Cyclone ConditioThe probability, in percent, that the cyclone center will pass within 50 miles to the
right or 75 miles to the left of the listed location within the indicated time period
when looking at the coast in the direction of the cyclone's movement.Product ResolutionThe smallest spatial increment or data element that is distinguishable in a given Doppler radar product.Prognostic DiscussionThis Hydrometeorological Prediction Center (HPC) discussion may include analysis of numerical and statistical models, meteorological circulation patterns and trends, and confidence factors. Reference is usually made to the manually produced 6- to 10-day Northern Hemisphere prognoses for mean 500 millibar heights and mean 500 millibar height anomalies. Discussions may also refer to the method of operational ensemble predictions.Progressive DerechoDerecho characterized by a short curved squall line oriented nearly perpendicular to the mean wind direction with a bulge in the general direction of the mean flow. Downburst activity occurs along the bulging portion of the line. This type of derecho typically occurs in the warm season (May through August) and is most frequent in a zone extending from eastern South Dakota to the upper Ohio Valley. The severe wind storms typically begin during the afternoon and continue into the evening hours. Several hours typically pass between initial convection and the first wind damage report.Prominence A term identifying cloud-like features in the solar atmosphere.
The features appear as bright structures in the CORONA above the
solar LIMB and as dark FILAMENTs when seen projected against the
solar DISKProperty ProtectionMeasures that are undertaken usually by property owners in order to prevent, or reduce flood damage. Property protection measures are often inexpensive for the community because they are implemented by or cost-shared with property owners. In many cases the buildings' appearance or use is unaffected, so these measurements are particularity appropriate for historical sites and landmarks. These measures include relocation and acquisition, flood proofing, and buying flood insurance.Pseudo-Cold FrontA boundary between a supercell's inflow region and the rear-flank downdraft (or RFD). It extends outward from the mesocyclone center, usually toward the south or southwest (but occasionally bows outward to the east or southeast in the case of an occluded mesocyclone), and is characterized by advancing of the downdraft air toward the inflow region. It is a particular form of gust front.PsychrometerAn instrument used to measure the water vapor content of the air; a hygrometer consisting essentially of two similar thermometers with the bulb of one being kept wet so that the cooling that results from evaporation makes it register a lower temperature than the dry one and with the difference between the readings constituting a measure of the dryness of the atmosphere PTCHYPatchyPTCLDYPartly CloudyPTWC(Pacific Tsunami Warning Center) - The Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Ewa Beach (pronounced Eva Beach), HI has an international warning responsibility for the entire Pacific and a regional warning responsibility for the State of Hawaii. See also WC/ATWC.Public Information StatementA narrative statement issued by a National Weather Service Forecast Office that can be used for:
1) A current or expected nonhazardous event of general interest to the public that can usually be covered with a single message (e.g., unusual atmospheric phenomena such as sun dogs, halos, rainbows, aurora borealis, lenticular clouds, and stories about a long-term dry/cold/wet/warm spell).
2) Public educational information and activities, such as storm safety rules, awareness activities, storm drills, etc.
3) Information regarding service changes, service limitations, interruptions due to reduced or lost power or equipment outages, or special information clarifying interpretation of NWS data. For example, this product may be used to inform users of radar equipment outages or special information clarifying interpretation of radar data originating from an unusual source which may be mistaken for precipitation (such as chaff drops, smoke plumes, etc., that produces echoes on the radar display.Public Severe Weather OutlookThese are issued when the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma anticipates an especially significant and/or widespread outbreak of severe weather. This outlook will stress the seriousness of the situation, defines the threat area, and provides information on the timing of the outbreak. The lead time on this outlook is normally less than 36 hours prior to the severe weather event.Puget Sound Convergence ZoneA situation where wind forced around the Olympic Mountains converges over the Puget Sound. Causes extreme variability in weather conditions around Seattle, Washington with some areas of sunshine and others in clouds and rain.Pulse Repetition Frequency (PRF)The amount of time between successive pulses, or bursts, of electromagnetic energy that is transmitted by a radar. The PRF determines the maximum range at which echoes can be detected and also the maximum radial velocity that can be detected by a Doppler radar.Pulse-Pair ProcessingNickname for the technique of mean velocity estimation by calculation of the signal complex covariance argument. The calculation requires two consecutive pulses, hence "pulse-pair".QPF DiscussionThis HPC forecast discussion is directed completely to explaining manual forecasts of areas in the contiguous 48 states expected to receive 1/4 inch or more precipitation during a 24-hour period. The manual forecasts are explained in terms of initial conditions and differences and/or similarities in the numerical model forecasts. General confidence in the manual forecast is expressed where it is appropriate and possible alternatives may be offered. This product is issued 3 times a day.Quantitative Precipitation Estimate (QPE)A spatial and temporal analysis estimating the amount of precipitation that has occurred using a variety of techniques including observational and remote sensing data.Quantitative Precipitation ForecastA spatial and temporal precipitation forecast that will predict the potential amount of future precipitation for a specified region, or area.Quiescent Prominence (Filament) Long, sheet-like prominences nearly vertical
to the solar surfaceRadar Coded MessageThis is an alphanumeric coded message which will be used in preparation of a national radar summary chart. It is automatically produced by the WSR-88D's Radar Product Generator (RPG) in 3 parts (reflectivities, storm motion, and echo tops).Radar Cross SectionThe area of a fictitious, perfect reflector of electromagnetic waves (e.g., metal sphere) that would reflect the same amount of energy back to the radar as the actual target (e.g., lumpy snowflake).Radar Data AcquisitionAn acronym for Radar Data Acquisition. The RDA is the hardware component of the NEXRAD system that consists of the radar antenna, transmitter, receiver, tower, and controlling computer. The RDA collects the unprocessed, analog voltages from the radar antenna and converts the signal to base reflectivity , base velocity, and spectrum width (in polar coordinate form). These "wide-band" products are transmitted to the RPG, which creates and disseminates end-user products.
Also: The RDA is the origination point of the WSR-88D radar data that will be eventually used by the radar operator. This WSR-88D component group is made up of several subcomponents which generate and radiate radio frequency (RF) pulses, receive reflected energy from those pulses, and process this received energy into digital base data. The RDA is also the site of the first two of four data recording levels used by the WSR-88D to record and store radar data.Radar MosaicA radar product that combines information from multiple radars to give a regional or national view of reflectivity or precipitation. An individual NEXRAD radar is limited to a range of about 200 miles. Typically, a mosaic product is produced for regions spanning several hundreds to several thousands of miles. Mosaic products are produced by vendors external to the NEXRAD system.Radar Product Generator (RPG)The RPG is the computer in the NEXRAD system that receives polar-coordinate base radar data from the RDA and processes these data into end-user products. Algorithms are utilized for pattern-recognition, rainfall estimation, computation of VIL and other products. The RPG communicates these products to end-users. A specific subset of available products is always generated for the NIDS vendors for distribution outside of the NWS, DoD, and FAA. Other products are generated by the RPG upon request from a PUP.Radar ReflectivityThe sum of all backscattering cross-sections (e.g., precipitation particles) in a pulse resolution volume divided by that volume. The radar reflectivity can be related to the radar reflectivity factor through the dielectric constant term |K|^2, and the radar wavelength.Radar Reflectivity Factor (z)z = the sum (over i) of (N_i * D_i^6), where N_i is the number of drops of diameter D_i in a pulse resolution volume. Note that z may be expressed in linear or logarithmic units. The radar reflectivity factor is simply a more meteorologically meaningful way of expressing the radar reflectivity.Radial VelocityComponent of motion toward or away from a given location. As "seen" by Doppler
radar, it is the component of motion parallel to the radar beam. (The component of motion perpendicular to
the beam cannot be seen by the radar. Therefore, strong winds blowing strictly from left to right or from right
to left, relative to the radar, can not be detected.)RadianceA measure of the intensity of the radiant energy flux emitted by a body in a given direction.Radiational CoolingThe cooling of the Earth's surface. At night, the Earth suffers a net heat loss to space due to terrestrial cooling. This is more pronounced when you have a clear sky.RadiofacsimileAlso known as HF FAX, radiofax or weatherfax, is a means of broadcasting graphic weather maps and other graphic images via HF radio. HF radiofax is also known as WEFAX, although this term is generally used to refer to the reception of weather charts and imagery via satellite. Maps are received using a dedicated radiofax receiver or a single sideband shortwave receiver connected to an external facsimile recorder or PC equipped with a radiofax interface and application software. RAFCRegional Area Forecast CenterRain Induced FogWhen warm rain falls through cooler air, water evaporates from the warm rain. It subsequently condenses in the cool air forming fog. Such fog can be quite dense. It generally will persist as long as the rain continues. Since temperature rises little during the day, there is little diurnal variation in rain induced fog. Improvement in visibility cannot be expected until the rain stops or moves out of the affected area.Range Height IndicatorThe RHI is a radar display in which the radar scans vertically, with the antenna pointing at a specific azimuth or radial. NEXRAD does not support RHI, but the PUP software allows the NEXRAD operator to construct a vertical cross-section using data from multiple scans of the radar.Rayleigh ScatteringChanges in directions of electromagnetic energy by particles whose diameters are 1/16 wavelength or less. This type of scattering is responsible for the sky being blue.RCKYRocky MountainsRCMDRecommendRCVReceiveReachIn hydrologic terms, the distance between two specific points outlining that portion of the stream, or river for which the forecast applies. This generally
applies to the distance above and below the forecast point for which the forecast is valid. ReachA section of river or stream between an upstream and downstream location, for which the stage or flow measured at a point somewhere along the section (e.g., gaging station or forecast point) is representative of conditions in that section of river or stream. ReceiverThe electronic device which detects the backscattered radiation, amplifies it and converts it to a low-frequency signal which is related to the properties of the target.RechargeThe replenishment of groundwater through infiltration of precipitation or snowmelt into the soil and gravity flow of streams into valley alluvium, sinkholes, or other large openings. Reconnaissance CodeAn aircraft weather reconnaissance code that has come to refer primarily to in-flight tropical weather observations, but actually signifies any detailed weather observation or investigation from an aircraft in flight.Record Event ReportThis non-routine narrative product is issued by the National Weather Service to report meteorological and hydrological events that equal or exceed existing records.Recreation ReportThis National Weather Service product is used to relay reports on conditions for resorts and recreational areas and/or events. This report may also contain forecast information. Reports for recreational areas and resorts are often routine products, typically for a season, but possibly year-round.RecurrenceUsed especially in reference to the recurrence of physical
parameters every 27 days (the rotation period of the sun)Red Watch or Red BoxSlang for Tornado Watch.Reference MarkA relatively permanent point of known elevation which is tied to a benchmark.ReflectionThe process whereby radiation (or other waves) incident upon a surface is directed back into the medium through which it traveled.ReflectivityUsually a reference to Radar Reflectivity; the sum of all backscattering cross-sections (e.g., precipitation particles) in a pulse resolution volume divided by that volume. The radar reflectivity can be related to the radar reflectivity factor through the dielectric constant term |K|^2, and the radar wavelength.Reflectivity Cross SectionThis WSR-88D radar product displays a vertical cross section of reflectivity on a grid with heights up to 70,000 feet on the vertical axis and distance up to 124 nm on the horizontal axis. Cross Section is similar to the Range Height Indicator (RHI) slices observed on conventional radar, but it is not limited to alignments along the radar radials. Instead the 2 end points are operator selected anywhere within 124 nm of the radar that are less than 124 nm apart. It is used to:
1) Examine storm structure features such as overhang, tilt, Weak Echo Regions (WER), and Bounded Weak Echo Regions (BWER);
2) Estimate height of higher dBZ's and echo tops; and
3) Locate the bright band (where snow is melting and becoming rain).Reflectivity FactorThe result of a mathematical equation (called the Weather Radar Equation) that converts the analog power (in Watts) received by the radar antenna into a more usable quantity. The reflectivity factor (denoted by Z) takes into account several factors, including the distance of a target from the radar, the wavelength of the transmitted radiation, and certain assumptions about the kind and size of targets detected by the radar. The reflectivity factor ranges over several orders of magnitudes, so it is usually expressed on a logarithmic scale called dBZ (decibels of reflectivity).RefractionChanges in the direction of energy propagation as a result of density changes within the propagating medium. In weather terms, this is important on determining how a radar beam reacts in the atmosphere.Refractive IndexA measure of the amount of refraction. Numerically equal to the ratio of wave velocity in a vacuum to a wave speed in the medium, i.e., n = c / v
where: v is actual speed, and c is speed of light in a vacuum.RefractivityExpressed as N; N = (n-1)*106, where n is refractive index and N is a function of temperature, pressure and vapor pressure (in the atmosphere).Relative VorticityThe sum of the rotation of an air parcel about the axis of the pressure system and the rotation of the parcel about its own axis.RelocatedA term used in an advisory to indicate that a vector drawn from the preceding advisory position to the latest known position is not necessarily a reasonable representation of the cyclone's movement.Replace and Route (R&R)A methodology that ingests the official streamflow forecasts issued by the NWS RFCs at AHPS gauge locations, and utilizes the National Water Model (NWM) to route these forecasts downstream. This method is used to delineate the River Forecast Center Flood Inundation Map (RFC FIM).ResonanceThe state of a system in which an abnormally large vibration is produced in response to an external stimulus, occurring when the frequency of the stimulus is the same, or nearly the same, as the natural vibration frequency of the system.Rex BlockA blocking pattern where there is an upper level high located directly north of a closed low.RFCRiver Forecast Center. Centers that serve groups of Weather Service Forecast offices and Weather Forecast offices, in providing hydrologic guidance and
is the first echelon office for the preparation of river and flood forecasts and warnings. Ridge IceIn hydrologic terms, ice piled haphazardly one piece over another in the form of ridges or walls.Right AscensionThe celestial longitude of the sun. This value is 0 at the vernal equinox, 90 at the summer solstice, 180 at the autumnal equinox and 270 at the winter solstice.Right Entrance RegionUsed interchangably with Right Rear Quadrant; the area upstream from and to the right of an upper-level jet max (as would be viewed looking along the direction of flow). Upward motion and severe thunderstorm potential sometimes are increased in this area relative to the wind speed maximum. See also exit region, left front quadrant.Rime IceAn opaque coating of tiny, white, granular ice particles caused by the rapid freezing of supercooled water droplets on impact with an object. See also clear ice.Rip CurrentA relatively small-scale surf-zone current moving away from the beach. Rip currents form as waves disperse along the beach causing water to become trapped between the beach and a sandbar or other underwater feature. The water converges into a narrow, river-like channel moving away from the shore at high speed.River ForecastAn internal product issued by RFCs to other NWS offices. An RVF contains stage and/ or flow forecasts for specific locations based on existing, and forecasted hydrometeorologic conditions. The contents of these products are used by the HSA office to prepare Flood Warnings (FLW), Flood Statements (FLS), River Statements (RVS), as well as other products available to the public.River Forecast CenterCenters that serve groups of Weather Service Forecast offices and Weather Forecast offices, in providing hydrologic guidance and is the first echelon office for the preparation of river and flood forecasts and warnings.River Ice StatementA public product issued by the RFC containing narrative and numeric information on river ice conditions.River Recreation StatementA statement released by the NWS to inform river users of current and forecast river and lake conditions. These statements are especially useful for planning purposes.RocketsondeA type of radiosonde that is shot into the atmosphere by a rocket, allowing it to collect data during its parachute descent from a higher position in the atmosphere than a balloon could reach.Rockfill DamIn hydrologic terms, an embankment dam of earth or rock in which the material is placed in layers and compacted by using rollers or rolling equipment. Roll CloudA low, horizontal tube-shaped arcus cloud associated with a thunderstorm gust front (or sometimes with a cold front). Roll clouds are relatively rare; they are completely detached from the thunderstorm base or other cloud features, thus differentiating them from the more familiar shelf clouds. Roll clouds usually appear to be "rolling" about a horizontal axis, but should not be confused with funnel clouds.Rope CloudIn satellite meteorology, a narrow, rope-like band of clouds sometimes seen on satellite images along a front or other boundary. The term sometimes is used synonymously with rope or rope funnel.Rotor CloudA turbulent altocumulus cloud formation found in the lee of some mountain barriers when winds cross the barrier at high speed. The air in the cloud rotates around an axis parallel to the range. Also called a roll cloud.Rotten IceIn hydrologic terms, ice in an advanced stage of disintegration.RPLCReplaceRUCRapid Update Cycle model, a numerical model run by NCEP that focuses on short-term forecasts out to 12 hours.Sacramento Soil Moisture Accounting Model (SAC-SMA)A continuous soil moisture accounting model with spatially lumped parameters that simulates runoff within a basin.Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind ScaleThe Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale is a 1 to 5 categorization based on the hurricane's intensity at the indicated time. The scale provides examples of the type of damage and impacts in the United States associated with winds of the indicated intensity. In general, damage rises by about a factor of four for every category increase. The maximum sustained surface wind speed (peak 1-minute wind at the standard meteorological observation height of 10 m [33 ft] over unobstructed exposure) associated with the cyclone is the determining factor in the scale. The scale does not address the potential for other hurricane-related impacts, such as storm surge, rainfall-induced floods, and tornadoes.
Sampling FrequencyThe rate at which sensor data is read or sampled.SBCAPESurface Based CAPE; CAPE calculated using a Surface based parcel.SCStratocumulusSCASmall Craft AdvisoryScatteredWhen used to describe precipitation (for example: "scattered showers") - Area coverage of convective weather affecting 30 percent to 50 percent of a forecast zone (s).
When used to describe sky cover: 3/8th to 4/8th (sky cover is measured in eighths or oktas) of the sky covered by clouds. In U.S. weather observing procedures, this is reported with the contraction “SCT.”ScatteringThe process in which a beam of light is diffused or deflected by collisions with particles suspended in the atmosphere.SCTScatteredScudSmall, ragged, low cloud fragments that are unattached to a larger cloud base and often seen with and behind cold fronts and thunderstorm gust fronts. Such clouds generally are associated with cool moist air, such as thunderstorm outflow.Sea Breeze Convergence ZoneThe zone at the leading edge of a sea breeze where winds converge. The incoming air rises in this zone, often producing convective clouds.Sea IceAny form of ice found at sea which has originated from the freezing of sea water (sea ice does NOT include superstructure icing). Ice formed from the freezing of the waters of the Great Lakes will be considered the same as sea ice. Sea Surface TemperaturesThe term refers to the mean temperature of the ocean in the upper few meters.Second-Day FeetIn hydrologic terms, the volume of water represented by a flow of one cubic foot per second for 24 hours; equal to 86,400 cubic feet. This is used
extensively as a unit of runoff volume. Often abbreviated as SDF.Secondary Ambient Air Quality StandardsAir quality standards designed to protect human welfare, including the effects on vegetation and fauna, visibility and structures.Secondary PollutantPollutants generated by chemical reactions occurring within the atmosphere. Compare primary pollutant.Sector BoundaryIn solar-terrestrial terms, in the solar wind, the area of demarcation between sectors, which are large-scale features distinguished by the predominant direction of the interplanetary magnetic field, toward or away from the sun.Sector VisibilityThe visibility in a specific direction that represents at least a 45º arc of a horizontal circle.Sectorized Hybrid ScanA single reflectivity scan composed of data from the lowest four elevation scans. Close to the radar, higher tilts are used to reduce clutter. At further ranges, either the maximum values from the lowest two scans are used or the second scan values are used alone.SecuriteA headline within National Weather Service high seas forecasts transmitted via the GMDSS to indicate that no hurricane or hurricane force winds are forecast.Sediment Storage CapacityIn hydrologic terms, the volume of a reservoir planned for the deposition of sediment.SeicheA standing wave oscillation of water in large lakes usually created by strong winds and/or a large barometric pressure gradient.Serial DerechoType of derecho that consists of an extensive squall line which is oriented such that the angle between the mean wind direction and the squall line axis is small. A series of LEWPs and bow echoes move along the line. The downburst activity is associated with the LEWPs and bows. A Serial Derecho tends to be more frequent toward the north end of the line during the late winter and spring months. It occurs less frequently than its cousin the "progressive derecho."
It is associated with a linear type mesoscale convective system that moves along and in advance of a cold front or dry line. These boundaries are often associated with a strong, migratory surface low pressure system and strong short wave trough at 500 mb (strong dynamic forcing). Lifted Indices are typically -6 or lower and the advection of dry air in the mid-troposphere (3-7 km above ground) by relatively strong winds leads to high convective instability and increased downdraft potential. The bow echoes move along the line in the direction of the mean flow, often southwest to northeast. These storms move at speeds exceeding 35 knots. Squall line movement is often less than 30 knots.Service HydrologistThe designated expert of the hydrology program at a WFO.Severe IcingThe rate of ice accumulation on an aircraft is such that de-icing/anti-icing equipment
fails to reduce or control the hazard. Immediate diversion is necessary.Severe Local StormA convective storm that usually covers a relatively small geographic area, or moves in a narrow path, and is sufficiently intense to threaten life and/or property. Examples include severe thunderstorms with large hail, damaging wind, or tornadoes. Although cloud-to-ground lightning is not a criteria for severe local storms, it is acknowledged to be highly dangerous and a leading cause of deaths, injuries, and damage from thunderstorms. A thunderstorm need not be severe to generate frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. Additionally, excessive localized convective rains are not classified as severe storms but often are the product of severe local storms. Such rainfall may result in related phenomena (flash floods) that threaten life and property.Severe Local Storm WatchAn alert issued by the National Weather Service for the contiguous U.S. and its adjacent waters of the potential for severe thunderstorms or tornadoes. Severe Thunderstorm WatchThis is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. A severe thunderstorm by definition is a thunderstorm that produces one inch hail or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour. The size of the watch can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review severe thunderstorm safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.
A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Prior to the issuance of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, SPC will usually contact the affected local National Weather Service Forecast Office (NWFO) and they will discuss what their current thinking is on the weather situation. Afterwards, SPC will issue a preliminary Severe Thunderstorm Watch and then the affected NWFO will then adjust the watch (adding or eliminating counties/parishes) and then issue it to the public by way of a Watch Redefining Statement. During the watch, the NWFO will keep the public informed on what is happening in the watch area and also let the public know when the watch has expired or been cancelled.SFCSurfaceSfericIn solar-terrestrial terms, a transient electric or magnetic field generated by any feature of lightning discharge (entire flash).Sheet iceIce formed by the freezing of liquid precipitation or the freezing of melted solid precipitation (see snow depth)Shelf CloudA low, horizontal wedge-shaped arcus cloud, associated with a thunderstorm gust front (or occasionally with a cold front, even in the absence of thunderstorms). Unlike the roll cloud, the shelf cloud is attached to the base of the parent cloud above it (usually a thunderstorm). Rising cloud motion often can be seen in the leading (outer) part of the shelf cloud, while the underside often appears turbulent, boiling, and wind-torn.Shore iceIn hydrologic terms, an ice sheet in the form of a long border attached to the bank or shore.; border ice.Short Range Forecast (SRF)A configuration of the National Water Model (NWM) that runs hourly and produces hourly deterministic forecasts of streamflow and hydrologic states out to 18 hours for the contiguous United States (ConUS), and out 48 hours for Hawaii and Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands. For ConUS, meteorological forcing data are drawn from the HRRR and RAP. For Hawaii and Puerto Rico/U.S. Virgin Islands, meteorological forcing data are drawn from the NAM-Nest with HIRESW WRF-ARW.Short Term ForecastA product used to convey information regarding weather or hydrologic events in the next few hours.Short-Term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT)A NASA- and NOAA-funded activity to transition experimental/quasi-operational satellite observations and research capabilities to the operational weather community to improve short-term weather forecasts on a regional and local scale.Short-Term Prediction Research and Transition Center - Land Information System (SPoRT-LIS)Provides high-resolution (~3 km) gridded soil moisture products in real-time to support regional and local modeling and improve situational awareness.Significant Wave HeightThe mean or average height of the highest one third of all waves in a swell train or in a wave generating region. It approximates the value an experienced observer would report if visually estimating sea height. When expressed as a range (e.g. Seas 2-4 ft) , indicates a degree of uncertainty in the forecast and/or expected changing conditions (not that all waves are between 2-4 ft). Generally, it is assumed that individual wave heights can be described using a Rayleigh distribution.
Example: Significant Wave Height = 10 ft
1 in 10 waves will be larger than 11 ft
1 in 100 waves will be larger than 16 ft
1 in 1000 waves will larger than 19 ft
Therefore, assuming a wave period of 8 seconds, for a significant wave height of 10 feet, a wave 19 feet or higher will occur every 8,000 seconds (2.2 hours).
Significant Weather OutlookA narrative statement produced by the National Weather Service, frequently issued on a routine basis, to
provide information regarding the potential of significant weather expected during the next 1 to 5 days.Single Cell ThunderstormThis type of thunderstorm develops in weak vertical wind shear environments. On a hodograph, this would appear as a closely grouped set of random dots around the center of the graph. They are characterized by a single updraft core and a single downdraft that descends into the same area as the updraft. The downdraft and its outflow boundary then cut off the thunderstorm inflow. This causes the updraft and the thunderstorm to dissipate. Single cell thunderstorms are short-lived. They only last about 1/2 hour to an hour. These thunderstorms will occasionally become severe (3/4 inch hail, wind gusts in the excess of 58 miles an hour, or a tornado), but only briefly. In this case, they are called Pulse Severe Thunderstorms. Sky ConditionUsed in a forecast to describes the predominant/average sky condition based upon octants (eighths) of the sky covered by opaque (not transparent) clouds.
Slight ChanceIn probability of precipitation statements, usually equivalent to a 20 percent chance.Sling PsychrometerAn instrument used to measure the water vapor content of the atmosphere in which wet and dry bulb thermometers are mounted on a frame connected to a handle at one end by means of a bearing or a length of chain. The psychrometer is whirled by hand to provide the necessary ventilation to evaporate water from the wet bulb.Small CraftThere is no precise definition for small craft. Any vessel that may be adversely affected by Small Craft Advisory criteria should be considered a small craft. Other considerations include the experience of the vessel operator, and the type, overall size, and sea worthiness of the vessel. See Small Craft Advisory.Small Craft Advisory(SCA) - An advisory issued by coastal and Great Lakes Weather Forecast Offices (WFO) for areas included in the Coastal Waters Forecast or Nearshore Marine Forecast (NSH) products. Thresholds governing the issuance of small craft advisories are specific to geographic areas. A Small Craft Advisory may also be issued when sea or lake ice exists that could be hazardous to small boats. There is no precise definition of a small craft. Any vessel that may be adversely affected by Small Craft Advisory criteria should be considered a small craft. Other considerations include the experience of the vessel operator, and the type, overall size, and sea worthiness of the vessel.
Exact thresholds may be found in NWSI 10-303:https://www.nws.noaa.gov/directives/sym/pd01003003curr.pdf.
For a list of NWS Weather Offices by Region, refer to the following website: http://www.nws.noaa.gov/organization.php Small Craft Should Exercise CautionPrecautionary statement issued to alert mariners with small, weather sensitive boats. Snow Accumulation and Ablation ModelIn hydrologic terms, a model which simulates snow pack accumulation, heat exchange at the air-snow interface, areal extent of snow cover, heat
storage within the snow pack, liquid water retention, and transmission and heat exchange at the ground-snow interface.Snow CoreA sample of either freshly fallen snow, or the combined old and new snow on the ground. This is obtained by pushing a cylinder
down through the snow layer and extracting it.Snow CorniceA mass of snow or ice projecting over a mountain ridge.Snow PackSame as Snowcover; the combined layers of snow and ice on the ground at any one time.Snow StickA portable rod used to measure snow depth.SnowcoverAlso known as Snow Pack; the combined layers of snow and ice on the ground at any one time.SnowpackThe total snow and ice on the ground, including both the new snow and the previous snow and ice which has not melted.Solar CoordinatesIn solar-terrestrial terms, Central Meridian Distance (CMD). The angular distance in solar
longitude measured from the central meridianSolar CycleIn solar-terrestrial terms, the approximately 11-year quasi-periodic variation in frequency or number of solar active events.Solar Sector Boundary (SSB)In solar-terrestrial terms, the apparent solar origin, or base, of the interplanetary sector boundary marked by the larger-scale polarity inversion lines.SolsticeEither of the two times per year when the sun is at its greatest angular distance from the celestial equator: about June 21 (the Northern Hemisphere summer solstice), when the sun reaches its northernmost point on the celestial sphere, or about December 22 (the Northern Hemisphere winter solstice), when it reaches its southernmost point.Southern Oscillation(SO) - a "see-saw" in surface pressure in the tropical Pacific characterized by simultaneously opposite sea level pressure anomalies at Tahiti, in the eastern tropical Pacific and Darwin, on the northwest coast of Australia. The SO was discovered by Sir Gilbert Walker in the early 1920's. Walker was among the first meteorologists to use the statistical techniques to analyze and predict meteorological phenomena. Later, the three-dimensional east-west circulation related to the SO was discovered and named the "Walker Circulation". The SO oscillates with a period of 2-5 years. During one phase, when the sea level pressure is low at Tahiti and High at Darwin, the El Nino occurs. The cold phase of the SO, called "La Nina" by some, is characterized by high pressure in the eastern equatorial Pacific, low in the west, and by anomalously cold sea surface temperature (SST) in the central and eastern Pacific. This is called El Nino Southern Oscillation or ENSO.Southern Oscillation IndexA numerical index measuring the state of the Southern Oscillation. The SOI is based on the (atmospheric) pressure difference between Tahiti and Darwin, Australia. It is highly correlated with tropical sea surface temperature anomaly indices recorded in Niño3.Space Environment Center(SEC) - This center provides real-time monitoring and forecasting of solar and geophysical events, conducts research in solar-terrestrial physics, and develops techniques for forecasting solar and geophysical disturbances. SEC's parent organization is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). SEC is one of NOAA's 12 Environmental Research Laboratories (ERL) and one of NOAA's 9 National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). SEC's Space Weather Operations is jointly operated by NOAA and the U.S. Air Force and is the national and world warning center for disturbances that can affect people and equipment working in the space environment.SPCStorm Prediction CenterSPCLYEspeciallySpearhead EchoA radar echo associated with a downburst with a pointed appendage extending toward the direction of the echo motion. The appendage moves much faster than the parent echo, which is drawn into the appendage. During it's mature stage, the appendage turns into a major echo and the parent echo loses its identity.Special Avalanche WarningIssued by the National Weather Service when avalanches are imminent or occurring in the mountains. It is usually issued for a 24 hour period.Special Fire WeatherMeteorological services uniquely required by user agencies which cannot be provided at an NWS office during normal working hours. Examples are on-site support, weather observer training, and participation in user agency training activities.Special Marine Warning(SMW) A warning product issued for potentially hazardous weather conditions usually of short duration (up to 2 hours) producing sustained marine thunderstorm winds or associated gusts of 34 knots or greater; and/or hail 3/4 inch or more in diameter; and/or waterspouts affecting areas included in a Coastal Waters Forecast, a Nearshore Marine Forecast, or an Great Lakes Open Lakes Forecast that is not adequately covered by existing marine warnings. Also used for short duration mesoscale events such as a strong cold front, gravity wave, squall line, etc., lasting less than 2 hours and producing winds or gusts of 34 knots or greater. Special Tropical Disturbance StatementThis statement issued by the National Hurricane Center furnishes information on strong and formative non-depression systems. This statement focuses on the major threat(s) of the disturbance, such as the potential for torrential rainfall on an island or inland area. The statement is coordinated with the appropriate forecast office(s).Specific GravityThe ratio of the density of any substance to the density of water.Specific HumidityIn a system of moist air, the ratio of the mass of water vapor to the total mass of the system.Specific YieldIn hydrologic terms, the ratio of the water which will drain freely from the material to the total volume of the aquifer formation. This value will always be
less than the porosity.Spectral DensityA radar term for the distribution of power by frequency.Spectral Wave DensityOn a buoy report, energy in (meter*meter)/Hz, for each frequency bin (typically from 0.03 Hz to 0.40 Hz).Spectral Wave DirectionOn a buoy report, mean wave direction, in degrees from true North, for each frequency bin.Spectrum WidthThis WSR-88D radar product depicts a full 360 degree sweep of spectrum width data indicating a measure of velocity dispersion within the radar sample volume. It is available for every elevation angle sampled, it provides a measure of the variability of the mean radial velocity estimates due to wind shear, turbulence, and/or the quality of the velocity samples. It is used to estimate turbulence associated with boundaries, thunderstorms, and mesocyclones; check the reliability of the velocity estimates; and locate boundaries (cold front, outflow, lake breeze, etc.).Spectrum Width Cross SectionThis WSR-88D radar product displays a vertical cross section of spectrum width on a grid with heights up to 70,000 feet on the vertical axis and distance up to 124 nm on the horizontal axis. Two end points to create cross section are radar operator selected along a radial or from one AZRAN to another AZRAN within 124 nm of the radar that are less than 124 nm apart.
|Sky Condition||Cloud Coverage|
|Clear / Sunny||0/8|
|Mostly Clear / Mostly Sunny||1/8 to 2/8|
|Partly Cloudy / Partly Sunny||3/8 to 4/8|
|Mostly Cloudy / Considerable Cloudiness||5/8 to 7/8|
|Fair (mainly for night)||Less than 4/10 opaque clouds, no precipitation, no extremes of visibility/temperature/wind|
It is used to:
1) Verify features on the Reflectivity Cross Section (RCS) and Velocity Cross Section (VCS) and to evaluate the quality of the velocity data
2) Estimate vertical extent of turbulence (aviation use).Sphere CalibrationReflectivity calibration of a radar by pointing the dish at a metal sphere of (theoretically) known reflectivity. The sphere is often tethered to a balloon.Spillway CrestIn hydrologic terms, the elevation of the highest point of a spillway.Sporadic EIn solar-terrestrial terms, a phenomenon occurring in the E region of the
ionosphere, which significantly affects HF radiowave
propagation. Sporadic E can occur during daytime or nighttime
and it varies markedly with latitude.St Lawrence Freeze-Up Outlook A National Weather Service forecast product to keep mariners informed of the projected freeze-up date of ice the St. Lawrence River.Stable CorePost-sunrise, elevated remnant of the temperature inversion that has built up overnight within a valley.Staccato LightningA Cloud to Ground (CG) lightning discharge which appears as a single very bright, short-duration stroke, often with considerable branching.Standard Synoptic TimesThe times of 0000, 0600, 1200, and 1800 UTC. Also known as the main synoptic times. State Forecast ProductThis National Weather Service product is intended to give a good general picture of what weather may be expected in the state during the next 5 days. The first 2 days of the forecast is much more specific than the last 3 days. In comparison with the Zone Forecast Product, this product will be much more general.Steering CurrentsSame as Steering Winds; a prevailing synoptic scale flow which governs the movement of smaller features embedded within it.Storm Relative Mean Radial Velocity Map(SRM): This WSR-88D radar product depicts a full 360º sweep of radial velocity data with the average motion of all identified storms subtracted out. It is available for every elevation angle sampled. It is used to aid in displaying shear and rotation in storms and storm top divergence that might otherwise be obscured by the storm's motion, investigate the 3-D velocity structure of a storm, and help with determining rotational features in fast and uniform moving storms. Storm Relative Mean Radial Velocity Regi(SRR): This WSR-88D radar product depicts a 27
nm by 27 nm region of storm relative mean radial velocity centered on a point which the operator
can specify anywhere within a 124 nm radius of the radar. The storm motion subtracted defaults to
the motion of the storm closest to the product center, or can be input by the operator. It is used to
examine the 3-dimensional storm relative flow of a specific thunderstorm (radar operator centers
product on a specific thunderstorm; aid in displaying shear and rotation in thunderstorms and
storm top divergence that might otherwise be obscured by storm motion; and gain higher
resolution velocity productStorm ScaleReferring to weather systems with sizes on the order of individual thunderstorms. See synoptic scale and mesoscale.Storm Total PrecipitationThis radar image is an estimate of accumulated rainfall since the last time there was a one-hour, or more, break in precipitation. It is used to locate flood potential over urban or rural areas, estimate total basin runoff and provide rainfall accumulations for the duration of the event and is available only for the short range (out to 124 nm). To determine accumulated precipitation at greater distances you should link to an adjacent radar. Storm Tracking InformationThis WSR-88D radar product displays the previous, current, and projected locations of storm centroids (forecast and past positions are limited to one hour or less). Forecast tracks are based upon linear extrapolation of past storm centroid positions, and they are intended for application to individual thunderstorms not lines or clusters. It is used to provide storm movement: low track variance and/or 2 or more plotted past positions signify reliable thunderstorm movement.Storm WatchA watch for an increased risk of a storm force wind event for sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, of 48 knots (55 mph) to 63 knots (73 mph), but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. Stormwater DischargeIn hydrologic terms, precipitation that does not infiltrate into the ground or evaporate due to impervious land surfaces but instead flows onto adjacent
land or water areas and is routed into drain/sewer systems.StratocumulusLow-level clouds, existing in a relatively flat layer but having individual elements. Elements often are arranged in rows, bands, or waves. Stratocumulus often reveals the depth of the moist air at low levels, while the speed of the cloud elements can reveal the strength of the low-level jet.Stratospheric OzoneIn the stratosphere, ozone has beneficial properties where it forms an ozone shield that prevents dangerous radiation from reaching the Earth's surface. Recently, it was discovered that in certain parts of the world, especially over the poles, stratospheric ozone was disappearing creating an ozone hole.Stream ReachA significant segment of surface water that has similar hydrologic characteristics, such as a stretch of stream/river between two confluences.Sub-synoptic LowEssentially the same as mesolow.Sublimation of iceThe transition of water from solid to gas without passing through the liquid phase.SubrefractionThe bending of the radar beam in the vertical which is less than under standard
refractive conditions. This causes the beam to be higher than indicated, and lead to the
underestimation of cloud heights. Subsidence1. A descending motion of air in the atmosphere occurring over a rather broad area.
2. In hydrologic terms, sinking down of part of the earth's crust due to underground excavation, such as the removal of groundwater.Subsidence InversionA temperature inversion that develops aloft as a result of air gradually sinking over a wide area and being warmed by adiabatic compression, usually associated with subtropical high pressure areas.Subsurface Storm FlowIn hydrologic terms, the lateral motion of water through the upper layers until it enters a stream channel. This usually takes longer to reach stream
channels than runoff. This also called interflow.Subtropical CycloneA non-frontal low pressure system that has characteristics of both tropical and extratropical cyclones. This system is typically an upper-level cold low with circulation extending to the surface layer and maximum sustained winds generally occurring at a radius of about 100 miles or more from the center. In comparison to tropical cyclones, such systems have a relatively broad zone of maximum winds that is located farther from the center, and typically have a less symmetric wind field and distribution of convection.Subtropical DepressionA subtropical cyclone in which the maximum 1-minute sustained surface wind is 33 knots (38 mph) or less. Subtropical Jet(Abbrev. STJ) - this jet stream is usually found between 20° and 30° latitude at altitudes between 12 and 14 km.Subtropical StormA subtropical cyclone in which the maximum 1-minute sustained surface wind is 34 knots (39 mph) or more. Suction VortexA small but very intense vortex within a tornado circulation. Several suction vortices typically are present in a multiple-vortex tornado. Much of the extreme damage associated with violent tornadoes (F4 and F5 on the Fujita scale) is attributed to suction vortices.Sudden Commencement (SC)In solar-terrestrial terms, an abrupt
increase or decrease in the northward component of the geomagnetic
field, which marks the beginning of a geomagnetic storm.Sudden Ionospheric Disturbance (SID)In solar-terrestrial terms, HF propagation anomalies due to ionospheric changes resulting from solar flares, proton events and geomagnetic storms.Summation PrincipleThis principle states that the sky cover at any level is equal to the summation of the sky cover of the lowest layer plus the additional sky cover
provided at all successively higher layers up to and including the layer in question.Summer SolsticeThe time at which the sun is farthest north in the Northern Hemisphere, on or around June 21.Sunspot Group Classification
SupercellShort reference to Supercell Thunderstorm; potentially the most dangerous of the convective storm types. Storms possessing this structure have been observed to generate the vast majority of long-lived strong and violent (F2-F5) tornadoes, as well as downburst damage and large hail. It is defined as a thunderstorm consisting of one quasi-steady to rotating updraft which may exist for several hours.Supercell ThunderstormPotentially the most dangerous of the convective storm types. Storms possessing this structure have been observed to generate the vast majority of long-lived strong and violent (F2-F5) tornadoes, as well as downburst damage and large hail. It is defined as a thunderstorm consisting of one quasi-steady to rotating updraft which may exist for several hours. Supercells usually move to the right of the mean wind. These are called "Right Movers" and they are favored with veering winds. Occasionally, these thunderstorms will move to the left of the mean wind. These thunderstorms are called "Left Movers". These supercells typically don't last as long as their "Right Mover" cousins and they usually only produce large hail (greater than 3/4 inch in diameter) and severe wind gusts in the excess of 58 miles an hour. Left Movers are favored when you have backing winds.
- A: A small single unipolar sunspot or very small group of spots without penumbra.
- B: Bipolar sunspot group with no penumbra.
- C: An elongated bipolar sunspot group. One sunspot must have penumbra.
- D: An elongated bipolar sunspot group with penumbra on both ends of the group.
- E: An elongated bipolar sunspot group with penumbra on both ends. Longitudinal extent of penumbra exceeds 10 deg. but not 15 deg.
- F: An elongated bipolar sunspot group with penumbra on both ends. Longitudinal extent of penumbra exceeds 15 deg.
- H: A unipolar sunspot group with penumbra.
Radar will observe essentially one long-lived cell, but small perturbations to the cell structure may be evident. The stronger the updraft, the better the chance that the supercell will produce severe (hail greater than 3/4 inch in diameter, wind gusts greater than 58 miles an hour, and possibly a tornado) weather.
Severe supercell development is most likely in an environment possessing great buoyancy (CAPE) and large vertical wind shear. A Bulk Richardson Number of between 15 and 35 favor supercell development. Typically, the hodograph will look like a horse shoe. This is due to the wind speed increasing rapidly with height and the wind direction either veering or backing rapidly with height.SupercoolTo cool a liquid below its freezing point without solidification or crystallization.Supercooled Liquid WaterIn the atmosphere, liquid water can survive at temperatures colder than 0 degrees Celsius; many vigorous storms contain large amounts of supercooled liquid water at cold temperatures. Important in the formation of graupel and hail.SuperrefractionBending of the radar beam in the vertical which is greater than sub-standard refractive conditions. This causes the beam to be lower than indicated, and often results in extensive ground clutter as well as an overestimation of cloud top heights.Surcharge CapacityIn hydrologic terms, the volume of a reservoir between the maximum water surface elevation for which the dam is designed and the crest of an
uncontrolled spillway, or the normal full-pool elevation of the reservoir with the crest gates in the normal closed position.Surf Zone Forecast(SRF) - A National Weather Service routine or event driven forecast product geared toward non-boating marine users issued for an area extending from the area of water between the high tide level on the beach and the seaward side of the breaking waves. Surface Energy BudgetThe energy or heat budget at the earth's surface, considered in terms of the fluxes through a plane at the earth-atmosphere interface. The energy budget includes radiative, sensible, latent and ground heat fluxes.Surface impoundmentIn hydrologic terms, an indented area in the land's surface, such as a pit, pond, or lagoon.Surface RunoffIn hydrologic terms, the runoff that travels overland to the stream channel. Rain that falls on the stream channel is often lumped with this quantity.Surface WaterWater that flows in streams and rivers and in natural lakes, in wetlands, and in reservoirs constructed by humans.Surface Weather ChartAn analyzed synoptic chart of surface weather observations. A surface chart shows the distribution of sea-level pressure (therefore, the position of highs, lows, ridges and troughs) and the location and nature of fronts and air masses. Often added to this are symbols for occurring weather phenomena. Although the pressure is referred to mean sea level, all other elements on this chart are presented as they occur at the surface point of observation.Surface-based ConvectionConvection occurring within a surface-based layer, i.e., a layer in which the lowest portion is based at or very near the earth's surface. Compare with elevated convection.Swell DirectionThe direction from which the swells are propagating.Symmetric Double EyeA concentrated ring of convection that develops outside the eye wall in symmetric, mature hurricanes. The ring then propagates inward and leads to a double-eye. Eventually, the inner eye wall dissipates while the outer intensifies and moves inward. Synchronous DetectionRadar processing that retains the received signal amplitude and phase but that removes the intermediate frequency carrier.Synoptic CodeRules and procedures established by the World Meteorological Organization(WMO) for encoding weather observations. Synoptic ScaleThe spatial scale of the migratory high and low pressure systems of the lower troposphere, with wavelengths of 1000 to 2500 km.Synoptic TrackWeather reconnaissance mission flown to provide vital meteorological information in data sparse ocean areas as a supplement to existing surface, radar, and satellite data. Synoptic flights better define the upper atmosphere and aid in the prediction of tropical cyclone development and movement.Synoptic WeatherWeather occurring over a wide region on time scales exceeding 12 hours.Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR)A radar mounted on a moving platform (aircraft or satellite) used for imaging. Since the radar antenna moves a significant distance between transmission and receiving the signal back, the radar antenna acts as if it is larger than its physical dimensions, providing better range and azimuth resolution.Synthetic Aperture Radar River Ice Surveillance (SARRIS)An experimental river ice mapping experiment using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).Tail CloudA horizontal, tail-shaped cloud (not a funnel cloud) at low levels extending from the precipitation cascade region of a supercell toward the wall cloud (i.e., it usually is observed extending from the wall cloud toward the north or northeast). The base of the tail cloud is about the same as that of the wall cloud. Cloud motion in the tail cloud is away from the precipitation and toward the wall cloud, with rapid upward motion often observed near the junction of the tail and wall clouds. Compare with beaver tail, which is a form of inflow band that normally attaches to the storm's main updraft (not to the wall cloud) and has a base at about the same level as the updraft base (not the wall cloud).Tail-End CharlieSlang for the thunderstorm at the southernmost end of a squall line or other line or band of thunderstorms. Since low-level southerly inflow of warm, moist air into this storm is relatively unimpeded, such a storm often has a higher probability of strengthening to severe levels than the other storms in the line.TCONAverage of GHMI, EGRI, NGPI, HWFI, and GFSI
HWFI: Previous cycle HWRF, adjusted
HWRF: NWS/Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting ModelTCUTowering cumulus cloudsTeleconnectionLinkage between changes in atmospheric circulation occurring in widely separated parts of the globe.Temperature RecoveryThe change in temperature over a given period of time. Generally, the period between late evening and sunrise. Windy or cloudy conditions will tend to produce slow temperature recovery, while clear, calm weather can cause rapid recovery.Terminal Aerodrome ForecastThis NWS aviation product is a concise statement of the expected meteorological conditions at an airport during a specified period (usually 24 hours). Each country is allowed to make modifications or exceptions to the code for use in each particular country. TAFs use the same weather code found in METAR weather reports.Terrain Forced FlowAn airflow that is modified or channeled as it passes over or around mountains or through gaps in a mountain barrier.Thermally Driven CirculationA diurnally reversing closed cellular wind current resulting from horizontal temperature contrasts caused by different rates of heating or cooling over adjacent surfaces; includes along-slope, cross-valley, along-valley, mountain-plain and sea breeze circulations.ThermoclineAs one descends from the surface of the ocean, the temperature remains nearly the same as it was at the surface, but at a certain depth temperature starts decreasing rapidly with depth. This boundary is called the thermocline. In studying the tropical Pacific Ocean, the depth of 20ºC water ("the 20ºC isotherm") is often used as a proxy for the depth of the thermocline. Along the equator, the 20ºC isotherm is typically located at about 50 m depth in the eastern Pacific, sloping downwards to about 150 m in the western Pacific.Thermodynamic ChartA chart containing contours of pressure, temperature, moisture, and potential temperature, all drawn relative to each other such that basic thermodynamic laws are satisfied. Such a chart typically is used to plot atmospheric soundings, and to estimate potential changes in temperature, moisture, etc. if air were displaced vertically from a given level. A thermodynamic chart thus is a useful tool in diagnosing atmospheric instability.Thermodynamic DiagramUsed interchangably with Thermodynamic Chart; a chart containing contours of pressure, temperature, moisture, and potential temperature, all drawn relative to each other such that basic thermodynamic laws are satisfied. Such a chart typically is used to plot atmospheric soundings, and to estimate potential changes in temperature, moisture, etc. if air were displaced vertically from a given level. A thermodynamic chart thus is a useful tool in diagnosing atmospheric instability.ThermodynamicsIn general, the relationships between heat and other properties (such as temperature, pressure, density, etc.) In forecast discussions, thermodynamics usually refers to the distribution of temperature and moisture (both vertical and horizontal) as related to the diagnosis of atmospheric instability.Thin Line EchoA narrow, elongated, non-precipitating echo. It is usually associated with
thunderstorm outflows, fronts, or other density discontinuities. It is also known as a Fine Line.Tidal CycleThe periodic changes in the intensity of tides caused primarily by the varying relations between the earth, moon, and sun.Tide PredictionThe computation of tidal highs and lows at a given location resulting from the gravitational interactions between the earth and primarily the moon and sun.Tilt SequenceRadar term indicating that the radar antenna is scanning through a series of antenna elevations in order to obtain a volume scan.Tipping-Bucket Rain GageA precipitation gage where collected water is funneled into a two compartment bucket; 0.01, 0.1 mm, or some other designed quantity of rain will fill one compartment and overbalance the bucket so that it tips, emptying into a reservoir and moving the second compartment into place beneath the funnel. As the bucket is tipped, it actuates an electric circuit.TNDCYTendencyTornado EmergencyAn exceedingly rare tornado warning issued when there is a severe threat to human life and catastrophic damage from an imminent or ongoing tornado. This tornado warning is reserved for situations when a reliable source confirms a tornado, or there is clear radar evidence of the existence of a damaging tornado, such as the observation of debris.Tornado WatchThis is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Their size can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They normally are issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review tornado safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.
A Tornado Watch is issued by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma. Prior to the issuance of a Tornado Watch, SPC will usually contact the affected local National Weather Forecast Office (NWFO) and they will discuss what their current thinking is on the weather situation. Afterwards, SPC will issue a preliminary Tornado Watch and then the affected NWFO will then adjust the watch (adding or eliminating counties/parishes) and then issue it to the public. After adjusting the watch, the NWFO will let the public know which counties are included by way of a Watch Redefining Statement. During the watch, the NWFO will keep the public informed on what is happening in the watch area and also let the public know when the watch has expired or been cancelled.Towering CumulusA large cumulus cloud with great vertical development, usually with a cauliflower-like appearance, but lacking the characteristic anvil of a Cb. (Often shortened to "towering cu," and abbreviated TCU.)TPC(Tropical Prediction Center) - An NCEP center which produces marine offshore and high seas forecasts south of 30N in the Eastern Pacific, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. TraceIn hydrologic terms, a hydrograph or similar plot for an extended-range time horizon showing one of many scenarios generated through an ensemble
forecast process.TrackThe path that a storm or weather system follows.Tropical AdvisoryOfficial information issued by tropical cyclone warning centers describing all tropical
cyclone watches and warnings in effect along with details concerning tropical
cyclone locations, intensity and movement, and precautions that should be taken.
Advisories are also issued to describe: (a) tropical cyclones prior to issuance of
watches and warnings and (b) subtropical cyclones.Tropical Analysis and Forecast BranchOne of three branches of the Tropical Prediction Center (TPC). It provides year-round products involving marine forecasting, aviation forecasts and warnings (SIGMETs), and surface analyses. The unit also provides satellite interpretation and satellite rainfall estimates for the international community. In addition, TAFB provides support to NHC through manpower and tropical cyclone intensity estimates from the Dvorak technique.Tropical CycloneA warm-core, non-frontal synoptic-scale cyclone, originating over tropical or subtropical waters with organized deep convection and a closed surface wind circulation about a well-defined center.Tropical Cyclone Plan of the DayA coordinated mission plan that tasks operational weather reconnaissance requirements during the next 1100 to 1100 UTC day or as required, describes reconnaissance flights committed to satisfy both operational and research requirements, and identifies possible reconnaissance requirements for the succeeding 24-hour period.Tropical Cyclone Position EstimateThe National Hurricane Center issues a position estimate between scheduled advisories whenever the storm center is within 200 nautical miles of U.S. land-based weather radar and if sufficient and regular radar reports are available to the hurricane center. As far as is possible, the position estimate is issued hourly near the beginning of the hour. The location of the eye or storm center is given in map coordinates and distance and direction from a well-known point. Tropical Cyclone UpdateThis brief statement is issued by the National Hurricane Center in lieu of or preceding special advisories to inform of significant changes in a tropical cyclone or the posting or cancellation of watches and warnings.Tropical DepressionA tropical cyclone in which the maximum 1-minute sustained surface wind is 33 knots (38 mph) or less.Tropical DisturbanceA discrete tropical weather system of apparently organized convection--generally 100 to 300 mi in diameter--originating in the tropics or subtropics, having a nonfrontal migratory character and maintaining its identity for 24 hours or more. It may or may not be associated with a detectable perturbation of the wind field.Tropical StormA tropical cyclone in which the maximum 1-minute sustained surface wind ranges from 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph) inclusive.Tropical Storm SummaryWritten by the Hydrometeorological Prediction Center* (HPC) after subtropical and names tropical cyclones have moved inland and advisories have been discontinued. These advisories will be terminated when the threat of flash flooding has ended or when the remnants of these storms can no longer be distinguished from other synoptic features capable of producing flash floods. Storm summaries will not be issued for storms that enter the coast of Mexico and do not pose an immediate flash flood threat to the coterminous United States. They will be initiated when and if flash flood watches are posted in the United States because of an approaching system. Storm summaries will continue to be numbered in sequence with tropical cyclone advisories and will reference the former storm's name in the text. Summaries will be issued at 0100, 0700, 1300, and 1900 Eastern Daylight Time (EDT). The only exception will be the first one in the series may be issued at a nonscheduled time.Tropical Storm WarningAn announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are expected somewhere within the specified coastal area within 36 hours.Tropical Storm WatchAn announcement that tropical storm conditions (sustained winds of 39 to 73 mph) are possible within the specified coastal area within 48 hours.Tropical Wave(formerly known as inverted trough) - A trough or cyclonic curvature maximum in the trade wind easterlies. The wave may reach maximum amplitude in the lower middle troposphere or may be the reflection of an upper tropospheric cold low or an equatorward extension of a mid-latitude trough.Tropical Weather DiscussionThese messages are issued 4 times daily by the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch (TAFB) to describe significant synoptic weather features in the tropics. One message will cover the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the Atlantic between the equator and 32 degrees North and east of 140 degrees West. Plain language is used in these discussions.Tropical Weather OutlookThis outlook normally covers the tropical and subtropical waters, discussing the weather conditions, emphasizing any disturbed and suspicious areas which may become favorable for tropical cyclone development within the next day to two. In the Atlantic, the outlook is transmitted daily at 0530, 1130, 1730, and 2230 Eastern local time. In the eastern Pacific, it is transmitted daily at 0100, 0700, 1300, and 1900 Eastern local time. For the Central Pacific, transmission times are 1000 and 2200 UTC. Existing tropical and subtropical cyclones are mentioned, as are depressions not threatening land. Given for each system are its location, size, intensity, and movement. For the first 24 hours of a depression or tropical cyclone, the outlook includes a statement identifying the AFOS and World Meteorological Organization (WMO) headers for the advisory on it.Tropical Weather SummaryThe National Hurricane Center issues a monthly summary of tropical weather is included at the end of the month or as soon as feasible thereafter, to describe briefly the past activity or lack thereof and the reasons why.TropicsAreas of the Earth within 20° North and South of the equator.TRPCLTropicalTsunami WatchFor products of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC - Pacific (except Alaska, British Columbia and Western States) Hawaii, Caribbean (except Puerto Rico, Virgin Is.), Indian Ocean): The second highest level of tsunami alert. Watches are issued based on seismic information without confirmation that a destructive tsunami is underway. It is issued as a means of providing an advance alert to areas that could be impacted by destructive tsunami waves. Watches are updated at least hourly to continue them, expand their coverage, upgrade them to a Warning, or end the alert. A Watch for a particular area may be included in the text of the message that disseminates a Warning for another area.
For products of the West Coast/Alaska Tsunami Warning Center (WC/ATWC - Alaska, British Columbia and Western States, Canada, Eastern and Gulf States, Puerto Rico, U.S Virgin Islands): A tsunami watch is issued to alert emergency management officials and the public of an event which may later impact the watch area. The watch area may be upgraded to a warning or advisory - or canceled - based on updated information and analysis. Therefore, emergency management officials and the public should prepare to take action. Watches are normally issued based on seismic information without confirmation that a destructive tsunami is underway. TurbulenceIrregular motion of the atmosphere, as indicated by gusts and lulls in the wind.TVCNAverage of at least 2 of GHMI, EGRI, NGPI, HWFI, GFSI, GFNI, EMXI
GFNI: Previous cycle GFDN, adjusted
GFDN: Navy version of GFDL
EMXI: Previous cycle EMX, adjusted
EMX: European Center for Medium-range Weather Forecasting Model
ECMWF: European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts
U.S. Geological Survey(Abbrev. USGS)- The Federal Agency chartered in 1879 by congress to classify public lands, and to examine the geologic structure, mineral
resources, and products of the national domain. As part of its mission, the USGS provides information and data on the Nation’s
rivers and streams that are useful for mitigation of hazards associated with floods and droughts.UCP (Unit Control Position): The WSR-88D radar operator uses this to control the entire radar
system. One of the main things that the radar operator will do at the UCP is change volume scan
strategies of the antenna. These volume scan strategies tell the radar how many elevation angles
will be used during a single volume scan (a volume scan is the completion of a sequence of
elevation angles), and the amount of time it will take to complete that sequence of elevation cuts,
each one being a single rotation of the antenna's 1 degree beam at selected elevation angles. The
WSR-88D uses 3 scan strategies. They are the following: 14 elevation angles in 5 minutes (this is
used during severe weather situations), 9 elevation angles in 6 minutes (this is used when there is
precipitation within 248 nautical miles of the radar), and 5 elevation angles in 10 minutes (this is
used when there is no precipitation within 248 nautical miles). The radar operator at the UCP can
also adjust the radar products and help the users out with their communication problems.UGC(Universal Geographic Code) - (e.g. ANZ300 for Western Long Island Sound) are used in many National Weather Service text products to provide geographical information. This allows users easy automated processing and redistribution of the information. More specifically, the purpose of the UGC are to specify the affected geographic area of the event, typically by state, county (or parish), or unique NWS zone (land and marine). The only exception to the above is to define the weather synopsis part of certain marine products. Ultra High Frequency (UHF)Those radio frequencies exceeding 300 MHzUndercurrentIn hydrologic terms, a current below the upper currents or surface of a fluid body.Unit Control PositionThe WSR-88D radar operator uses this to control the entire radar system. One of the main things that the radar operator will do at the UCP is change volume scan strategies of the antenna. These volume scan strategies tell the radar how many elevation angles will be used during a single volume scan (a volume scan is the completion of a sequence of elevation angles), and the amount of time it will take to complete that sequence of elevation cuts, each one being a single rotation of the antenna's 1 degree beam at selected elevation angles. The WSR-88D uses 3 scan strategies. They are the following: 14 elevation angles in 5 minutes (this is used during severe weather situations), 9 elevation angles in 6 minutes (this is used when there is precipitation within 248 nautical miles of the radar), and 5 elevation angles in 10 minutes (this is used when there is no precipitation within 248 nautical miles). The radar operator at the UCP can also adjust the radar products and help the users out with their communication problems.Universal Geographic Code(UGC) - UGC's, (e.g. ANZ300 for Western Long Island Sound) are used in many National Weather Service text products to provide geographical information. This allows users easy automated processing and redistribution of the information. More specifically, the purpose of the UGC are to specify the affected geographic area of the event, typically by state, county (or parish), or unique NWS zone (land and marine). The only exception to the above is to define the weather synopsis part of certain marine products. Upper Level DisturbanceA disturbance in the upper atmospheric flow pattern which is usually associated with clouds and precipitation. This disturbance is characterized by distinct cyclonic flow, a pocket of cold air, and sometimes a jet streak. These features make the air aloft more unstable and conducive to clouds and precipitation.Upper-air Weather ChartWeather maps that are produced for the portion of the atmosphere above the lower troposphere, generally at and above 850 mb. Isolines on these maps usually represent the heights of a constant pressure surface, such as the 500 mb surface.Urban Flash Flood GuidanceA specific type of flash flood guidance which estimates the average amount of rain needed over an urban area during a specified period of time to initiate flooding on small, ungaged streams in the urban area.UTCBy international agreement, the local time at the prime meridian, which passes through Greenwich, England. Prior to 1972, this time was called Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) but is now referred to as Coordinated Universal Time or Universal Time Coordinated (UTC). It is a coordinated time scale, maintained by the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures (BIPM). It is also known a "Z time" or "Zulu Time".
More about UTC, and a table to convert UTC to your local time is
V NotchA radar reflectivity signature seen as a V-shaped notch in the downwind part of a thunderstorm echo. The V-notch often is seen on supercells, and is thought to be a sign of diverging flow around the main storm updraft (and hence a very strong updraft). This term should not be confused with inflow notch or with enhanced V, although the latter is believed to form by a similar process.VAACVolcanic Ash Advisory CentersValid Time Event Code(VTEC) - The Valid Time Event Code (VTEC) always is used in conjunction with, and provides supplementary information to, the Universal Geographic Code (UGC), to further aid in the automated delivery of National Weather Service text products to users. The VTEC is included in many event driven or non-routine products and in some routine Marine forecasts. The VTEC provides information on the event, while the UGC describes the affected geographic area. Valley Volume EffectThe reduction in volume of a valley (or basin) as compared to an equal depth volume with a horizontal floor. Because the valley volume is smaller, equivalent heat fluxes will cause larger changes in temperature in the valley volume than in the flat-floor volume.Variable Infiltration Capacity (VIC)A large-scale, semi-distributed hydrologic model that solves full water and energy balances. As such, it shares several basic features with other land surface models that are commonly coupled to global circulation models.Variable Wind DirectionA condition when
(1) the wind direction fluctuates by 60° or more during the 2-minute evaluation period and the wind speed is greater than 6 knots; or
(2) the direction is variable and the wind speed is less than 6 knots.VarianceA measure of variability.VCNTYVicinityVCPVolume Coverage Pattern - A volumetric sampling procedure designed for the surveillance of one or more particular meteorological phenomena. Clear Air Mode uses VCP 31 and 32. Each has a Volume Scan consisting of 5 elevation angles (0.5 to 4.5 degrees) in ten minutes. VCP 31 has a long pulse length and provides a better signal-to-noise ratio permitting lower reflectivity returns to be detected. VCP 32 has a short pulse length which provides for larger unambiguous velocity values. Precipitation Mode uses VCP 11 and 21. VCP 11 provides better vertical sampling of weather echoes near the antenna and is usually preferred in situations where convective precipitation is within 60 nmi of the antenna. VCP 11 Volume Scan consists of 14 elevation angles (0.5 to 19.5 degrees) in 5 minutes. VCP 21 has a slower antenna rotation rate and provides better velocity and spectrum width estimates beyond 60 nmi. VCP 21 Volume Scan consists of 9 elevation angles (0.5 to 19.5 degrees) in 6 minutes.Velocity Azimuth DisplayA WSR 88-D product which shows the radar derived wind speeds at various heights. This radar product shows the wind speeds from 2,000 to 55,000 feet above the ground. VAD and EVAD (Extended VAD) are methods of guessing the large scale two-dimensional winds from one-dimensional radial velocity data. They are essentially multivariate regressions which fit a simple, large scale wind model to the observed winds. EVAD also estimates the large scale horizontal divergence and particle fall speed. See VWP.Velocity Cross SectionThis WSR-88D radar product displays a vertical cross section of velocity on a grid with heights up to 70,000 feet on the vertical axis and distance up to 124 nm on the horizontal axis. The two end points to create cross section are radar operator selected along a radial or from one AZRAN to another AZRAN within 124 nm of the radar that are less than 124 nm apart.
It is used to:
1) Examine storm structure features such as location of updrafts/downdrafts, strength of storm top divergence, and the depth of mesocyclones;
2) Locate areas of convergence/divergence (when generated along a radial; and
3) Analyze areas of rotation (when generated from one AZRAN to another). Velocity ZonesIn hydrologic terms, areas within the floodplain subject to potential high damage from waves. These sometimes appear on flood insurance rate mapsVenturi EffectThe speedup of air through a constriction due to the pressure rise on the upwind side of the constriction and the pressure drop on the downwind side as the air diverges to leave the constriction.Ver High Frequency (VHF)That portion of the radio frequency spectrum
from 30 to 300 MHzVertical VelocityThe component of velocity (motion) in the vertical. The evaluation of areas of upward vertical velocity is key to forecasting areas of active
weather.Vertical Wind Shearthe change in the wind's direction and speed with height. This is a critical factor in determining whether severe thunderstorms will develop.Vertically Stacked SystemA low-pressure system, usually a closed low or cutoff low, which is not tilted with height, i.e., located similarly at all levels of the atmosphere. Such systems typically are weakening and are slow-moving, and are less likely to produce severe weather than tilted systems. However, cold pools aloft associated with vertically-stacked systems may enhance instability enough to produce severe weather.
Very Low Frequency (VLF)That portion of the radio frequency spectrum from
3 to 30 kHzVisibility Protection ProgramThe program specified by the Clean Air Act to achieve a national goal of remedying existing impairments to visibility and preventing future visibility impairment throughout the United States.Visual SpectrumThe portion of the electromagnetic spectrum to which the eye is sensitive, i.e., light with wavelengths between 0.4 and 0.7 micrometers. Compare shortwave radiation and longwave radiation.VLCTYVelocityVolcanic AshFine particles of mineral matter from a volcanic eruption which can be dispersed long distances by winds aloft. The chemical composition and abrasiveness of the particles can seriously affect aircraft and also machinery on the ground. If it is blown into the stratosphere and it is thick enough, it can decrease the global temperature.Volume ScanA radar scanning strategy in which sweeps are made at successive antenna elevations (i.e., a tilt sequence), and then combined to obtain the three-dimensional structure of the echoes.Volume Velocity ProcessingA way to guess the large-scale 2-dimensional winds, divergence and fall speeds from one-dimensional radial velocity data. Essentially a multivariate regression which fits a simple wind model to the observed radial velocities. Very similar to VAD and EVAD, except it uses different functions for the fit.VorticityA measure of the rotation of air in a horizontal plane. Positive (counter-clockwise or cyclonic) vorticity can be correlated with surface low development and upward vertical motion (in areas of positive vorticity advection). VTEC(Valid Time Event Code) - The Valid Time Event Code (VTEC) always is used in conjunction with, and provides supplementary information to, the Universal Geographic Code (UGC), to further aid in the automated delivery of National Weather Service text products to users. The VTEC is included in many event driven or non-routine products and in some routine Marine forecasts. The VTEC provides information on the event, while the UGC describes the affected geographic area. Wall CloudA localized, persistent, often abrupt lowering from a rain-free base. Wall clouds can range from a fraction of a mile up to nearly five miles in diameter, and normally are found on the south or southwest (inflow) side of the thunderstorm. When seen from within several miles, many wall clouds exhibit rapid upward motion and cyclonic rotation.
However, not all wall clouds rotate. Rotating wall clouds usually develop before strong or violent tornadoes, by anywhere from a few minutes up to nearly an hour. Wall clouds should be monitored visually for signs of persistent, sustained rotation and/or rapid vertical motion.
"Wall cloud" also is used occasionally in tropical meteorology to describe the inner cloud wall surrounding the eye of a tropical cyclone, but the proper term for this feature is eyewall.Warm AdvectionTransport of warm air into an area by horizontal winds. Low-level warm advection sometimes is referred to (erroneously) as overrunning. Although the two terms are not properly interchangeable, both imply the presence of lifting in low levels.Warm Core LowA low pressure area which is warmer at its center than at its periphery. Tropical cyclones exhibit this temperature pattern. Unlike cold core lows, these lows produce much of their cloud cover and precipitation during the nighttime.Warm OcclusionA frontal zone formed when a cold front overtakes a warm front and, finding colder air ahead of the warm front, leaves the ground and rises up and over this denser air. Compare with cold occlusion.Warm SectorA region of warm surface air between a cold front and a warm front.Wasatch WindA strong easterly wind blowing out of the mouths of the canyons of the Wasatch Mountains onto the plains of Utah. Also called canyon wind.WatchA watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so that those who need to set their plans in motion can do so.Watch Box(or simply "Box") - slang for a Severe Thunderstorm Watch or Tornado Watch issued by the SPC.Watch CancellationThis product will be issued to let the public know when either a Tornado Watch or Severe Thunderstorm Watch has been canceled early. It is issued by the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma. In the text of the statement it will specify the severe weather watch number and the area which the watch covered.Watch Redefining StatementThis product tells the public which counties/parishes are included in the watch. This is done not only by writing them all out, but by using the county FIPS codes in the Header of the product. It is issued by the local National Weather Service Forecast Office (WFO).Watch Status ReportsThis product lets the NWFO know of the status of the current severe weather watch (Tornado or Severe Thunderstorm). During the severe weather watch, the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) will issue these reports periodically. These reports will describe, in plain language, the current evaluation of the severe weather situation and whether the watch will expire or be reissued. A status report is not issued if a cancellation or replacement has been issued at least 1 hour prior to the expiration time of the original watch.WatercourseAny surface flow such as a river, stream, tributary.Wave CrestThe highest part of a waveWave SpectrumThe distribution of wave energy with respect to wave frequency or period. Wave spectra assist in differentiating between wind waves and swell. WAVEWATCH IIIOne of the operational forecast models run at NCEP. The WWIII is run four times daily, with forecast output out to 126 hours.WC/ATWCWest Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center. The National Weather Service's West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center in Palmer, AK has a regional tsunami responsibility for the Canadian coastal regions and the ocean coasts of all U.S. States except Hawaii. See also PTWC. WCMWarning Coordination MeteorologistWeak Echo Region(Abbrev. WER) - A WSR-88D radar product which displays reflectivity for up to 8 elevation angles for a radar operator selected location as a set presentation of a storm. The plains in this product are presented in an ascending order, lowest plain is lowest elevation angle selected. It is used to depict storm tilt and to identify Weak Echo Regions (WER) and Bounded Weak Echo Regions (BWER) in thunderstorms.Weather Forecast Office(Abbrev. WFO) - this type of National Weather Service office is responsible for issuing advisories, warnings, statements, and short term forecasts for its county warning areaWeighing-Type Precipitation GageA rain gage that weighs the rain or snow which falls into a bucket set on a platform of a spring or lever balance. The increasing weight of its contents plus the bucket are recorded on a chart. The record thus shows the accumulation of precipitation.West African Disturbance LineA line of convection about 300 miles long, similar to a squall line. It forms over west Africa north of the equator and south of 15 degrees North latitude. It moves faster than an Easterly Wave between 20 and 40 mph. They move off the African coast every 4 to 5 days mainly in the summer. Some reach the American tropics and a few develop into tropical cyclones.Wet MicroburstA microburst accompanied by heavy precipitation at the surface. A rain foot may be a visible sign of a wet microburst.WhitecapThe breaking crest of a wave, usually white and frothy.Wind ChillReference to the Wind Chill Factor; increased wind speeds accelerate heat loss from exposed skin, and the wind chill is a measure of this effect. No specific rules exist for determining when wind chill becomes dangerous. As a general rule, the threshold for potentially dangerous wind chill conditions is about -20°F.Wind Chill AdvisoryThe National Weather Service issues this product when the wind chill could be life threatening if action is not taken. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state.Wind Chill FactorIncreased wind speeds accelerate heat loss from exposed skin. No specific rules exist for determining when wind chill becomes dangerous. As a general rule, the threshold for potentially dangerous wind chill conditions is about -20°F.Wind Chill WarningThe National Weather Service issues this product when the wind chill is life threatening. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state.Wind CoupletAn area on the radar display where two maximum wind speeds are blowing in opposite directions.Wind DirectionThe true direction from which the wind is blowing at a given location (i.e., wind blowing from the north to the south is a north wind). It is normally measured in tens of degrees from 10 degrees clockwise through 360 degrees. North is 360 degrees. A wind direction of 0 degrees is only used when wind is calm. Wind SockA tapered fabric shaped like a cone that indicates wind direction by pointing away from the wind. It is also called a "wind cone."Winter SolsticeThe time at which the sun is farthest south in the Southern Hemisphere, on or around December 21.Winter Storm WatchThis product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.WMCWorld Meteorological Center(s)WRCCWestern Regional Climate CenterX-Ray BackgroundIn solar-terrestrial terms, a daily average background X-ray flux in the 1 to 8
angstrom range. It is a midday minimum designed to reduce the
effects of flares.X-Ray Flare ClassIn solar-terrestrial terms, rank of a flare based on its X-ray energy output. Flares are classified by the order of magnitude of the peak burst intensity (I) measured at the earth in the 1 to 8 angstrom band as follows:
XCITEDExcitedXCPTExpectingXPCExpectXSECCross SectionZurich Sunspot ClassificationIn solar-terrestrial terms, a sunspot classification system that has been
modified for SESC use.
|Class||Intensity (in Watts/m2)|
|B||I < 10-6|
|C||10-6 <= I < 10-5
|M||10-5 <= I < 10-4|
|X||I >= 10-4|
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