ESTOFEX meeting of November 2006
At least once a year ESTOFEX comes together to talk and make decisions about forecasting procedures, verification, plans for our future, and outreach. The last meeting was from 3-6 November 2006 in Linkenheim, Germany. Four of the five forecasters were attending and one active member.
A lot has happened over the year. In January 2006 we had a meeting in Toulouse where we decided to use newly defined risk levels and a new colour scheme to go with it. Pieter Groenemeijer has been very active programming a forecast map drawing tool, storing the coordinates, a major step that helped both uniformity of the look of our maps, as well as offering possibilities to do verification. It went into use on April 29th. Pieter has started a first verification based on lightning data from the British arrival-time difference system, the well-known SFLOC reports. This covers a large part of Europe, and is reasonably reliable, enough to use it for our purpose. The results will soon be available under a special section of our site.
We decided to make a change to the forecasting scheme (see FAQ). We simplified it by not making a distinction between tornadoes and other severe weather anymore, and we adjusted the unit area and number of events expected for the threat levels. We will likely make another adjustment to facilitate verification, by using a unit radius around a point within which at least one event should happen to verify the point as true. This is not likely to affect the meaning of our threat levels much, but may influence the style of drawing thunder and threat areas.
Other things we discussed were forecast text uniformity (necessary elements, correct grammar, no abbreviations), and the possibility of adding a severe convective weather FAQ, case studies, longer and shorter term forecasts (rejected: lack of forecasters!), outreach, offering workshops, and organizational aspects.
We also decided on enabling this News blog, so that we have more means of informing you of our changes and to have the possibility of issuing statements and reflection on recent major events.