Why are we having this meeting?

             Over the past ten years, real-time regional NWP has grown to dozens of sites throughout country.  This flowering of local prediction has been fostered by the availability of models (such as MM5, COAMPS, ARPS, ETA, RAMS, WRF), rapidly declining costs for computer resources, and easy access to initialization grids and data.  Several regional forecasting efforts have also served as real-time data collection sites, primarily by acquiring observations from local mesoscale networks.   Such local data have been used for model initialization and verification.

Some of these local prediction efforts have been quasi-permanent and quite robust, while others have come and gone as interest and support have varied.  In addition to demonstrating the value of enhanced regional prediction for research and operational needs, these efforts have also identified significant organizational challenges.  These challenges include the relationship between national and local forecast centers, the roles and interactions among public agencies, academia and private weather-provider companies.  Equally important are issues pertaining to insuring permanence of such groups, including garnering support for operational regional weather forecasting and local data collection enterprises.

 Recently, the National Weather Service has expressed interest in the regional prediction idea and has established a study team on distributed modeling that will provide a recommendation to the NWS Corporate Board.

 The USWRP Workshop on Regional Weather Prediction, which follows its sister workshop on mesoscale data collection and assimilation, seeks to identify the relevant issues and pose possible solutions to solving the challenges of real-time regional weather prediction.  Some of the issues to be considered include:

1.  What should the relationship be between such local NWP and national operational centers?  What is the optimal mix of regional and national NWP for support of operational forecasting, research, and user applications?  What might be the roles of government, academia and private enterprise in operational, regional NWP?

2.  What should be the relationship between local NWP and the USWRP?  What is the best way to organize research in support of the specialized needs of regional observations and prediction?

3.  What is the role of regional data collection?  What is the relationship between regional and national data assimilation efforts?  How can local data assets be more effectively used by regional prediction efforts?

4.  If regional NWP and data collection makes sense, how should regional NWP centers be supported and organized?

5.  What should be the scope of regional NWP centers?  Should they be weather prediction centers or expand into environmental prediction centers that support hydrological prediction, air quality monitoring and prediction, emergency response, agriculture, and the like?

6.  Should pseudo-operational regional testbeds be established to test the modeling, data collection, and organizational aspects of the operational, regional NWP concept?

7.  How should the value of local prediction efforts by evaluated?