Wednesday, December 1, 2010

No operations today, 12/1/2010

Earlier in the week we mentioned the possibility of 3 more deployments before the end of the field project.  That forecast was based the expected snow and wind event on Monday into early Tuesday (Deployment #4), the threat of light snow today and tonight, and the threat of snow this weekend.  Late this morning, however, we're seeing sunny skies across eastern North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota with the light snow located farther west, in central and western North Dakota.  This band of snow is expected to slide southeast into northern South Dakota and eventually into southwestern Minnesota and western Iowa.  So, for today, there are no operations planned since the snow is too far west (and eventually south).

As of this morning, the forecast for Thursday is dry, as a weak ridge of high pressure continues to keep conditions relatively pleasant.  The best option for our 5th, and likely last, deployment arrives on Friday as an upper-level disturbance moves through the Dakotas and into Minnesota during the day.  Forecast models have been pretty persistent for the last week to ten days suggesting the threat of snow during the Friday-Sunday period, and currently it appears that the snow event will occur on Friday.

-Media Team

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deployment #4 is in the books!

Radar operations with the DOW and UND's NorthPol radar were suspended this morning as the snow event transitioned to a blowing snow event.  The SNOwD UNDER team is looking forward to a few down days to rest after the high operational tempo we've kept over the last ten days.  Operations appear possible this Saturday as another storm begins to move into the area.  Stay tuned for more details as the weekend approaches.

As always, you can view our Facebook page at and read the daily forecast briefings at

- Media Team.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Deployment #4 underway

The DOW is in the field once again and has been collecting data since around noon today.  Snow accumulation in the range of 1-5" is expected within the study domain accompanied by considerable blowing.

-Media Team

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday (11/28) Briefing Summary

Freezing drizzle expected tonight, however, there will be no operations.  Snow is likely Mon. afternoon into Tue. morning.  Operations are likely. Details will be worked out at the 8am briefing tomorrow!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Sunday's forecast briefing

Sunday's forecast briefing will be held at 11 am in RWIC. See you there!

Saturday's forecast

Dry and warming conditions will continue to be the trend as we go through the weekend as upper-level ridging continues to build into the region. Sunday night a long-wave trough will move out of the west towards the Great Plains. This upper level wave will be in conjunction with the 500 mb wave and vorticity. This will lead to prime conditions for lee cyclogenesis in Colorado on Sunday. On Sunday, an area of low pressure is forecast to rapidly develop/deepen over eastern CO and move northeastward during the evening towards the Dakotas. As the low approaches the SNOwD UNDER domain, the low is expected to weaken some, but none-the-less provide nearly 24 hours of light-moderate snowfall late Sunday night into late Monday night. The storm is still too far away and the models are not in agreement therefore, start time nor snowfall accumulation amounts cannot be exactly determined at this point.

Today: Expect temperatures to be in the mid 20s with breezy southerly winds. Cirrus clouds will start to approach the domain during the afternoon hours, but will likely be partially to fully obscured by low-level stratus.

- Lead Forecaster

Friday, November 26, 2010

More potential deployment opportunities this week

Monday begins the last, and final week of SNOwD UNDER.  To date, we have three deployments with the DOW and several aircraft flights.  Not bad for the first two weeks!  The GFS is hinting at a possible deployment opportunity late Sunday or early Monday.  At least two more snow events are possible after the next one and before the DOW leaves December 6th. Confidence is low in the latter two events at this point, but the situation bears watching.

Stay tuned for more updates through the weekend and make sure to check out our Facebook page at  You can also subscribe to our Atom RSS feed below.

- DOW Media Team

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Deployment #3 underway!

The UND and DOW radars have been operating for the past several hours scanning the snowband in the Red River Valley.  During the passage of the band, the DOW reported low visibilities with moderate to heavy snowfall. 

- The DOW team

DOW radar animations from deployments #1 and #2

DOW radar animations from the first two deployments have been posted to youtube.  Make sure to check them out in HD so you can see all of the fine-scale features!

Deployment #1 (Nov. 20-21, 2010)

Deployment #2 (Nov. 22-23, 2010)

Wedneday - Thursday Forecast

***Another prolonged snow event to impact the the region today and Thursday***

Cyclogenesis will continue to slowly occur over the high plains of Nebraska. The sub-tropical jet, oriented from Arizona to Maine, will force the weak area of low pressure into the Northern Plains during the day today. But, the low pressure system will be lacking the divergence needed in the jet, either from being located in the right entrance or left exit regions, to allow for deep cyclogenesis. The 500 mb trough will be in phase with the surface low, trailing approx 9 hours behind. As the 500 mb trough tracks eastward during the day, the gradient aloft will tighten, and thus increasing the amount of vorticity present from speed and curvature. This, combined with warm-air advection at 850 mb, will provide for wide spread snow across the domain. But, with a lack of an abundant moisture source, it appears the heaviest snow rates will stay to the east and a prolonged period of light snow will persist through the day in the forecast domain. Activity will begin to taper off Thursday morning as the low pressure center begins to move into SW Ontario, but wrap around snow showers will likely be seen through out the day on Thursday. When everything is said and done, new snow accumulations of 2-4 inches, with locally higher amounts, can be expected through out the SNOwD UNDER domain. The biggest difference between this storm and first storm, will be the winds at the surface. Winds on Wednesday are expected to be around 10-20 kts with gusts near 30 kts. As the low pulls away, sustained winds are forecast to be 20-30 kts, with higher gusts. Thus, visibilities will be reduce to 1/4 or less at times creating periodic Blizzard conditions.

***There will not be a forecast briefing Thursday morning.***

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Forecast Briefings 11/23/2010

To help prepare for tomorrow's snow event, there will be an additional forecast briefing today at 4 pm in RWIC. 

Deployment #2 in the books, preparations for #3 underway

Deployment #2 wrapped up yesterday evening after a day of successful data collection.  More photos from Deployments #1 and 2 are available on our Facebook page.

Planning is underway for our next deployment for Wednesday and possibly into Thursday.  You can read the project forecast discussion at

-DOW team.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Deployment #2, early afternoon update

Deployment #2 continues.  Visibilities at the DOW site are still in the 1/4 to 1/2 mile range.  Winds seem to have increased, too, now 15 to 20 mph.  Data collection is proceeding well with the DOW and UND's NorthPol radar collecting volume scans and RHIs.  All three radars, including NWS's Mayville radar, are completing scans every ten minutes.

This afternoon's deployment is expected to continue for several more hours and a new crew is expected at the radar site later this afternoon.  Having numerous teams of students operate the radar is an important education goal for the project and rotating the crews helps achieve this objective.

The forecast for Wednesday and Thursday still points toward another possible deployment for a significant storm moving in mid-week.  Stay tuned for more details, and be sure to check our daily forecasts at

-DOW team.

Deployment #2 continues

Snow has increased significantly at the DOW site with visibilities 1/4 to 1/2 mile.  Winds have diminished and aggregate snow seems to be the dominant type.  NorthPol operations have begun after a hardware replacement this morning, with a PPI volume scanning strategy planned for the now.

Keith, one of our DOW crew members this morning, took a photo of the DOW in the snow for your viewing pleasure.  Thanks, Keith!

-DOW team.

Deployment #2 is underway

As mentioned yesterday and last evening, snow is expected across the domain today.  DOW operations began around 8:30 am this morning.  Light snow and fog are observed at the deployment location as of 8:40 am.  A heavy snow band is currently impacting the Fargo area and is moving generally northeasterly and drifting slowly north.

Stay tuned for updates throughout the day.
-DOW team

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Monday (Deployment #2)

Latest 00Z models have sped up the system for Monday.  Snow should impact the operational domain from approximately 15-3Z   (8am-9pm). As a result, operations are expected to commence around the time of the briefing. The briefing will occur as scheduled. 

Deployment #1 a success, No operations today.

As mentioned yesterday, Deployment #1 is in the books. The DOW deployed to one of our southern sites, in an optimum triple-Doppler location just as snowfall began. Operations continued through the night and into this morning before closing down as the first round of snow wound down. Several small convective cells, embedded within the main snow band were observed and thoroughly sampled.

This event was close to being a perfect deployment. Hardware issues with NorthPol prevented optimum data collection. An intermittent short in the servo amp limited NorthPol operations to normal volume scans but without RHIs. Luckily a replacement part is scheduled to arrive on Monday. The snow event was also rather weak, and although many bands were observed, the NWS radar operated in clear-air mode. Despite allowing the WSR-88D radar to see most of the snow  shorter wavelength radars can view, clear-air mode has fewer vertical tilts.  The aircraft also deployed and was able to collect observations near and over the Buxton field site.

Operations are not expected for the remainder of the day. A relatively potent upper low is expected to move out of the Rockies toward the Northern Plains on Monday. The current forecast track brings the heaviest snowfall across southeast North Dakota through northern Minnesota. The last few weather forecast model runs have suggested an increasing chance of snow over the study domain. Operations are possible again on Monday, mainly afternoon, as this system moves through.

Attention then turns toward the middle of the week (around the Thanksgiving holiday). Another storm system is expected to move into the area Wednesday bringing the threat of snow and wind into the study domain once again.

All in all, a fairly active week is expected for the second week of the study.

Sunday Forecast

Quiet for the rest of the day, more light snow tomorrow, possibly the biggest event of the season thus far on Wednesday into Thursday. Stay tuned for updates throughout the week!

More information can be found at:

Deployment #1 wrapping up.

Snow is ending earlier than originally forecast.  The last DOW shift will not be needed and is canceled.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Snow bands as seen from the DOW

The DOW has already been deployed for approximately 5 hours and has collected some interesting data.  Seen below are the reflectivty and velocity fields for a snowband with a wave-like structure.

Deployment #1 Underway

Deployment # 1 is underway!

The image below was captured from the Mayville, ND radar, KMVX, at 6:03 pm.  You'll see the location of Grand Forks, Crookston, and the Buxton Field Site (Road Weather Field Research Facility).  The DOW arrived on site at 3 pm and is currently operating.  Three shifts of operators are planned for the DOW, at this time.  NorthPol operations are active, too, but issues with the radar may impact data retrieval.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Operations plans for 11/19/10

Special briefing at 4pm today. Morning briefing postponed from 8am to 11am tomorrow to take advantage of 12Z runs. Operations are likely to occur Sat. night into Sunday. 

Link to 8am 11/19/10 briefing:

Briefing was too large for facebook/youtube.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Operations plans for 11/18/10

Forecast briefing for 11/18/2010. Operations are likely this weekend! Stay tuned for updates.


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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

DOW practice deployment a success!

The DOW successfully deployed at a location near Manvel, ND on 11/17/2010.

 Although this was primarily a practice deployment, we were able to sucessfully sample the light snow showers that passed through the Red River Valley.  Two examples of the data we collected are posted below.  I apologize for the poor quality... these were captured with a cellphone camera! We will post better images later after we download the data. 

Range Height Indicator (RHI) plots (see image above) allow meteorologists to view the atmosphere as if you were viewing the side of a piece of cake. The horizontal axis corresponds to the distance from the radar. In this example, the radar is located on the left hand side. The vertical axis corresponds to the height in the atmosphere. In this RHI, a thin layer of snow showers can be seen at levels at 2 kilometers and below in the atmosphere. Aloft, the radar can see ice phase clouds known as Cirrus at approximately 6 km.

Meteorologists can also use radars to produce Plan Position-Indicator (PPI) plots. This allows us to view the atmosphere completely surrounding the radar. Using the cake reference used to explain the RHI, this is like viewing the complete cake from above (well not exactly... see the below figure).   In reality, we are displaying a complicated slice of the atmospheric cake where data is higher in elevation as you get farther from the center (the radar). This occurs because the radar is pointed upward at an angle. 

In the example above, we can see a snow shower (the purple colors) to the N/NW of the radar which is in the center of the plot. As the snow shower passed over the DOW, the number and size of snowflakes increased drastically.

For more info about RHI and PPI plots, check out these other descriptions/example.

Operations plans for 11/17/10

Practice deployments will occur today for the radars. The shortwave that will impact the region tomorrow appears to be trending north and precipitation will be outside of the operational domain. Next chance for operations will be this weekend.


Forecast briefing for 11/17/10:


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Operations Manual now online

Those interested in our detailed operations manual, please go here.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

DOW training begins!

Over the past several days, numbers of UND undergraduate and graduate atmospheric science students have been trained to operate the DOW by Justin Walker of CSWR.

Justin Walker (center) describes the DOW computer systems to several AtSci. graduate students: Joel Siegel (left), Shaoyue Qui (middle right), and Ryan Stanfield (bottom right).   

- The radar group

Operation plans for 11/16 and the following days

No operations for today! Tomorrow, there may be a maintenance flight for the Citation. If this occurs, the radars will run a test deployment. On Thursday, there is a chance of a cirrus deployment. Regardless of cirrus occurrence, the radars will be performing practice deployments. Crew will be needed for these activities, so please contact these groups if you are interested in participating!

Forecast for 11-16-2010

Near term forecast: Synoptic scale flow will continue to be the larger force controlling the weather. A look at the jet stream shows the Northern Plains in the core of a long wave trough. This long wave trough, combined with a weak, and dissipating short-wave trough will work to keep the low level clouds lingering around through Wednesday morning. As this short-wave trough moves through the region, there may be enough lift for a few scattered flurries, but nothing to write home about. Temperatures will continue to be around the freezing mark, but with some weak warm air advection occurring, temps might make it a few degrees above freezing this afternoon.

Outlook: The best chance for accumulating snowfall will come Friday night as an Albert Clipper is forecast to skirt the international border, but the exact track has been wobbling over the past few days. None-the-less, this will still have to be watched closely.


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- Forecast Group

Monday, November 15, 2010

Forecast Information

Forecast information can be viewed at:

Forecast Briefing for 11/15/10

The briefing for today is located at:

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No operations for today!  Temperatures will be cold enough for snow, however, no systems will be impacting the region for the next few days.  As a result, operations seem unlikely for the first few days of the project. This should allow the DOW training schedule to remain unchanged.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Virtual tour of the DOW radar truck

Can't wait to see the DOW truck next week???   Here's a video tour of the DOW6 radar truck that we will be using during the SNOwD UNDER field project!

- The DOW group

 DOW7 (front) and DOW6 (rear) waiting for storms in Wyoming during the VORTEX-2 field project in 2009.

See SNOwD UNDER at the Northern Plains Winter Storm Conference

Members of the SNOwD UNDER team will be presenting an overview of our field project at the Northern Plains Winter Storm Conference Monday, November 15 and Tuesday, November 16.  Please say "hi" if you're there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

DOW Training Schedule

The DOW training schedule is now posted at: DOW schedule.   Contact Aaron Kennedy if any changes need to be made.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Now Ordering SNOwD UNDER tee shirts

Be a proud participant of SNOwD UNDER while wearing our logo in UND Colors!

The shirt is made of NuBlend fleece.  

Order now, pay later.  Order due MONDAY 8 Nov at 5 PM.  Please Respond ASAP.  

The price will be $20 per shirt if we buy 12 and will drop to about $13 if we buy 50.  

Monday, October 18, 2010

Blog created!

Welcome to the blog for the SNOwD UNDER field project!  Designed and run by atmospheric science students at the University of North Dakota, and in collaboration with area K-12 schools, this project will study snow and other cold season precipitation events in the Red River Valley of eastern ND.  The project will use UND's weather aircraft (Citation), North-POL Doppler radar, and surface instruments in tandem with the Doppler on Wheels (DOW) from the Center for Severe Weather Research (CSWR) to study these storms. We will be updating this blog throughout the project with items such as forecasts, examples of the data collected, and in-action photos of the project!

For any questions or further inquiries about the project, please feel free to leave feedback on this blog or by emailing us at

- The SNOwD UNDER team