MDL Figures Prominently at AMS Centennial

May 01, 2020

MDL staff members gather for a group photo at a popular spot in the lobby of the Convention Center:  From left, Huiqing Liu, Judy Ghirardelli, Phil Shafer, Justin Wilkerson (behind Phil), Dave Rudack, Dana Strom, Jason Burks, Steve Smith, Greg Stumpf, Dave Ruth, Ken Sperow, Jess Charba, and Andy Kochenash.

Staff members from the NWS’s Meteorological Development Laboratory (MDL) were on hand this January at the 100th Annual Meeting of the American Meteorological Society in Boston, MA, participating in many of the activities connected with the Annual Meeting’s special sessions. Also present were current MDL Director, Stephan B. “Steve” Smith, Michael R. “Mike” Farrar, who served as MDL Director from 2014-2016, and longtime MDL Director H. R. “Bob” Glahn, who led MDL from 1976 until his retirement in 2012. The trio is pictured here following the Centennial sessions connected with the Conference on Probability and Statistics in the Atmospheric Sciences (ProbStat).

In addition to the ProbStat Conference, MDL staff members also presented at a number of the other conferences associated with the Centennial meeting, including the Conference on Transitions of Research to Operations; the Conference on Aviation, Range, and Aerospace Meteorology; the Symposium on the Coastal Environment; and the Conference on Artificial Intelligence for Environmental Science. Their talks covered such diverse topics as the NOAA Virtual Laboratory (VLab), AWIPS developer training, the history of and new developments in statistical postprocessing of Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) model output for aviation and general forecast use, hurricane storm-surge modeling, cloud-to-ground lightning climatology and forecasting, and the use of artificial intelligence to help predict thunderstorms. Together, these talks highlighted the broad range of forecast product development, research-to-operations, and field support activities engaged in by MDL scientists.

Photo: MDL leadership, past and present: Current MDL director Steve Smith (left), Bob Glahn (Director, 1976-2012), and Mike Farrar (Director, 2014-2016)
MDL leadership, past and present: Current MDL director Steve Smith (left), Bob Glahn (Director, 1976-2012), and Mike Farrar (Director, 2014-2016) meet after the AMS Centennial 26th ProbStat sessions.

The ProbStat Centennial sessions brought together present and past MDL statistical modelers with those from other NOAA agencies and their counterparts in meteorological organizations outside of the U.S. This provided a unique opportunity to celebrate past successes, share new ideas, and renew collaborative ties. Some of the discussions featured at the ProbStat sessions were invited talks by Bob Glahn entitled “Operational NWP Postprocessing—The Early Years,” and J. Paul Dallavalle (former MDL Statistical Modeling Branch [SMB] Chief, now retired) entitled “Postprocessing Weather Prediction Model Output in the U.S. National Weather Service: Model Output Statistics from 1972 to 2012.” Additional MDL invited presentations featured information on the history and current status of the Localized Aviation MOS Program (LAMP), NOAA’s National Blend of Models (NBM), and other guidance tools which support NWS field operations.

One of the highlights of the ProbStat Centennial sessions was the presentation of an AMS Scientific and Technological Activities Commission (STAC) Distinguished S/T Accomplishment Award to MDL's David Rudack. The award was presented by former MDL Director (and AMS President-Elect) Mike Farrar following Dave's invited talk during Part II of the Centennial Session on the History and Impact of Operational Postprocessing and Current Status, which provided an historical overview of NBM development. Presented on behalf of the AMS STAC Committee on Probability and Statistics, the award citation reads: “For outstanding teamwork, mentoring, and contributions to the statistical forecasting program of the Meteorological Development Laboratory, National Weather Service.”

Dave currently is leading the team of MDL/SMB meteorologists charged with upgrading and expanding the capabilities of the NBM. Prior to his current duties, Dave was instrumental in the development of MDL MOS forecast systems based on output from the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) deterministic and ensemble models.

More information about the AMS STAC, its numerous member Committees, and STAC awards can be found at