February 19, 2015 to March 18, 2015
Project Location: 
Geneva, NY
Project Description: 
Geoscience Education and Outreach of Weather in New York using the DOW at Hobart & William Smith Colleges II (GEO‐WIND‐HWS‐II)

Principle Investigators: Drs. Neil F. Laird and Nicholas D. Metz
WhereDepartment of Geoscience, Hobart & William Smith Colleges
When: 19 February - 8 March 2015
Facility: Doppler on Wheels (DOW)
Final Report: GEO–WIND–HWS-II Final Report



The Doppler on Wheels (DOW) deployed to Hobart and William Smith Colleges (HWS) from 20 February to 8 March 2015. The objectives of the visit were to:

  1. allow students to gain experience in field collection of weather radar data,
  2. enhance student knowledge and understanding of conventional and dual-polarization weather radars,
  3. introduce real-time forecasting activities as part of determining DOW radar project deployment timing and location, and
  4. conduct several outreach events to provide the college community (i.e., students, staff, and faculty) and the general public across New York State opportunities to tour the DOW facility and learn about weather research.

The GEO–WIND–HWS-II project focused on observing high-impact weather systems in the central New York/Finger Lakes region. In particular, the DOW radar collected data during weather events, such as mixed-phase precipitation and warm-frontal snow. Students not only gained valuable experience in the field collection of data, but also honed their real-time forecasting, communication, and presentation skills.

Figure 1: Region for potential DOW deployment during the GEO–WIND– HWS project. The blue marker indicates the location of HWS.

Students in GEO 260 Weather Analysis and GEO 355 Mesoscale and Severe Weather played a significant role in the GEO–WIND–HWS II project. GEO 260 is an intermediate-level course taken by students during a semester following their completion of our introductory meteorology course. GEO 355 is an advanced course taken by students further along in atmospheric science curriculum. Both of these classes contain a component that focuses on forecasting. Thus during the GEO-WIND-HWS II project, students in each of classes took turns in providing daily DOW deployment forecasts for the next day. On each day, the assigned students created a three paragraph forecast. The first paragraph described anything interesting that was forecast to occur over the eastern half of the United States (synoptic forecast). The second paragraph discussed the meteorological impacts and conditions forecast within the DOW deployment area (mesoscale forecast; Fig. 1). Finally, the third paragraph included a deployment recommendation for the DOW that was considered when deciding upon potential operations for the following day. These forecasts were disseminated to all meteorology students at HWS. Thus, students were exposed to the challenges and time constraints of real-time forecasting. This assignment is shown in the appendix of this report.

Furthermore, students in GEO 262 Polar Meteorology were required to participate in the various outreach activities held during GEO-WIND-HWS-II. As a part of these activities, students utilized large 6’ x 3’ vinyl posters that were created during GEO-WIND-HWS-I. These thirteen posters described different aspects associated with radar meteorology and severe weather. A sampling of these posters is shown in the appendix of this report. At each outreach event, a number of the posters were set up and in conjunction with the DOW itself and served as a springboard for discussion with visitors to the DOW event. The Office of Communication at HWS also posted an article about the visit of the DOW radar to HWS for the education and outreach project. (http://www.hws.edu/dailyupdate/NewsDetails.aspx?aid=18511).

In addition, students in Introduction to Meteorology (GEO 182) utilized DOW radar data in classroom exercises. This class of 42 students completed a lab exercise that focused on the DOW and weather radar data after taking a complete tour of the mobile weather radar. Several students in GEO 182 also were individually trained in the operational procedures of the DOW radar.

Students who participated in both meteorological and outreach deployments predominately came from the three upper level classes (GEO 260, GEO 262, and GEO 355). Additionally, students from GEO 182 who completed the in-class lab and were interested in participating in the deployments also completed the DOW training.

In total, the pool of participating students in the deployments numbered around 40. Each of these students signed up to participate in multiple periods during the GEO–WIND–HWS-II project should a deployment occur. An additional 40–45 students gained experience with the DOW radar through the introductory classroom lab activities. In order to add to the data collecting experience, rawinsondes were launched during many of the deployments and were subsequently analyzed by students.