AR Recon Officially Called for in the National Winter Season Operations Plan

July 1, 2019

Cover of the new National Winter Season Operations Plan

CW3E director F. Martin Ralph has led the Atmospheric River Reconnaissance (AR Recon) program during the 2016, 2018, and 2019 campaigns, in close collaboration with Vijay Tallapragada of the National Center for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) and Jim Doyle of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). Recently, the National Winter Season Operations Plan (NWSOP) has been updated for the first time since 2014. This document is maintained by the Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research. The NWSOP highlighted AR Recon and made its execution annually an official requirement. This is a major step forward for programmatic support for this key activity. AR Recon supports improved prediction of landfalling atmospheric rivers on the U.S. west coast. Key sponsors have been the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the California Department of Water Resources, who are working with CW3E and other partners to advance their goals of using improved AR prediction to inform water and infrastructure management (e.g. for Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations – FIRO). AR Recon campaigns have been operated with the collaboration of experts from organizations including CW3E, Scripps, NCEP, NRL, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, University of Albany, University of Arizona, the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF), Plymouth State University, the Air Force, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). All participants have contributed to daily forecasting and flight planning discussions. Aircraft flying AR Recon missions have included two of the Air Force 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron’s WC-130J Hurricane Hunter aircraft, and NOAA’s Gulfstream IV (G-IV), based in Everett, WA. Air Force personnel have been stationed at Scripps to help coordinate flight planning. For more detailed information about the AR Recon program, please see the website.