Impact of WSR-88D intra-volume low-level scans on sever weather warning performance
July 1, 2022
The statistical relationship between supplemental adaptive intra-volume low-level scan (SAILS) usage on the Weather Surveillance Radar-1988 Doppler and National Weather Service severe storm warning performance during 2014–20 is analyzed. Results show statistically significant improvement in severe thunderstorm (SVR), flash flood (FF), and tornado (TOR) warning performance associated with SAILS-on versus SAILS-off. Within the three possible SAILS modes of one (SAILSx1), two (SAILSx2), and three (SAILSx3) additional base scans per volume, for SVR, SAILSx2 and SAILSx3 are associated with better warning performance compared to SAILSx1; for FF and TOR, SAILSx3 is associated with better warning performance relative to SAILSx1 and SAILSx2. Two severe storm cases (one that spawned a tornado, one that did not) are presented where SAILS usage helped forecasters make the correct TOR warning decision, lending real-life credence to the statistical results. Furthermore, a statistical analysis of automated volume scan evaluation and termination effects, parsed by SAILS usage and mode, yield a statistically significant association between volume scan update rate and SVR warning lead time.