The National Weather Center

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You can find the National Weather Center research facility in the middle of tornado alley lies. This is a sign of the times.

National Weather Center

Where else besides Oklahoma would there be an institution dedicated to tornado research? Well, neighboring states could be for sure, but the University of Oklahoma got together with the US federal and state governments as well as other interested organizations to create this research facility.

The focus is on mesoscale weather. This category of events includes thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes and the like. Storms which take anywhere from about half an hour to more than half a day to pass a given point on the ground. They measure a mile or two up to (maybe) a hundred across.

The Centre's two main activities are observation and prediction. They also claim to concern themselves with the interaction between mesoscale and other scales. In other words, how both big synoptic systems (spanning a state or two) and tiny microclimates (e.g., parking lots) contribute to, and are affected by, the storms in question.

High Contrast Clouds

The fundamental tool meteorologists use for identifying and tracking medium-sized storms is the radar. With it, one can find heavy precipitation, distinguish its type (rain, hail, snow etc.) and pinpoint which way it is moving. With a Dopplar radar we can also determine wind directions and vorticity (patterns of rotation) conducive to finding and predicting tornadoes.

The center has informed us that they extract data from radar output and use it to feed their physical mesoscale models. Among other things, they use the data to set initial and/or boundary conditions.

Herein lies their specialty. Storm prediction and research, in which specialized knowledge is then accumulated and used to refine forecasting techniques. Then they use existing infrastructures to distribute their information.

Why does the National Weather Center do this?

The website for the Center says it can be applied to:

  • Understand the causes and effects of climate change,
  • establish a network of critical storm information, through their observing system,
  • improve other NOAA weather radar images through research and development, and
  • provide portable radar units for emergency situations
Contact them at...

National Weather Center (NWC)
University of Oklahoma
100 East Boyd St.
SEC Suite 710
Norman OK 73019

Phone (405) 325-3101
E-mail nwc(at)

Go back from National Weather Center to the Radar Real Time Weather webpage or to the Stuff in the Air homepage.

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