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Abutment Seeping
Reservoir water that moves through seams or pores in the natural abutment material and exits as seepage.
Active Conservation Storage
In hydrologic terms, the portion of water stored in a reservoir that can be released for all useful purposes such as municipal water supply, power, irrigation, recreation, fish, wildlife, etc. Conservation storage is the volume of water stored between the inactive pool elevation and flood control stage.
Adiabatic Lapse Rate
The rate of decrease of temperature experienced by a parcel of air when it is lifted in the atmosphere under the restriction that it cannot exchange heat with its environment. For parcels that remain unsaturated during lifting, the (dry adiabatic) lapse rate is 9.8°C per kilometer.
Adirondack Type Snow Sampling Set
In hydrologic terms, a snow sampler consisting of a 5-foot fiberglass tube, 3 inches in diameter, with a serrated-edge steel cutter at one end and a twisting handle at the other. This sampler has a 60-inch snow depth capacity.
Advanced Baseline Imager (ABI)
A moderate resolution imaging system on the GOES and Himawari family of satellites.
Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS)
A web-based suite of accurate and information-rich forecast products. They display the magnitude and uncertainty of occurrence of floods or droughts, from hours to days and months in advance. These graphical products are useful information and planning tools for many economic and emergency managers.
Altimeter Setting
A correction of the station pressure to sea level used by aviation. This correction takes into account the standard variation of pressure with height and the influence of temperature variation with height on the pressure. The temperatures used correspond to the standard atmosphere temperatures between the surface and sea level.
AMVER/SEAS
A software program created by the National Weather Service intended to efficiently generate AMVER and VOS reports as part of a cooperative effort.
Arctic Sea Smoke
Steam fog, but often specifically applied to steam fog rising from small open water within sea ice.
ASSOCIATED PRINCIPAL USER
A Principal User with dedicated communications to a WSR-88D unit.
Automated Surface Observing System
The ASOS program is a joint effort of the National Weather Service (NWS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Defense (DOD). Completed in the mid-1990s, the ASOS systems serve as the nation's primary surface weather observing network. ASOS is designed to support weather forecast activities and aviation operations and, at the same time, support the needs of the meteorological, hydrological, and climatological research communities.
BASE DATA
Those digital fields of reflectivity, mean radial velocity, and spectrum width data in spherical coordinates provided at the finest resolution available from the radar.
Base Flood
In hydrologic terms, the national standard for floodplain management is the base, or one percent chance flood. This flood has at least one chance in 100 of occurring in any given year. It is also called a 100 year flood.
BASE PRODUCTS
Those products that present some representation of the base data. This representation may not necessarily be either in full resolution or depict the full area of coverage. Base products can be used to generate a graphic display or further processing.
Base Reflectivity
Base Reflectivity is the default image. Taken from the lowest (½° elevation) slice, it is the primary image used to "see what's out there". There are two versions of Base Reflectivity image; the short range version which extends out to 124 nautical miles (143 statute miles/230 kilometers) and the long range version which extends out to 248 nautical miles (285 statute miles/460 kilometers). This image is available upon completion of the ½° elevation scan during each volume scan
Base Station
In hydrologic terms, a computer which accepts radio signals from ALERT gaging sites, decodes the data, places the data in a database, and makes the data available to other users.
Base Width
In hydrologic terms, the time duration of a unit hydrograph.
Baseflow
In hydrologic terms, streamflow which results from precipitation that infiltrates into the soil and eventually moves through the soil to the stream channel. This is also referred to as ground water flow, or dry-weather flow.
Closed Basin
A basin draining to some depression or pond within its area, from which water is lost only by evaporation or percolation. A basin without a surface outlet for precipitation falling precipitation.
Closed Basin Lake Flooding
Flooding that occurs on lakes with either no outlet or a relatively small one. Seasonal increases in rainfall cause the lake level to rise faster than it can drain. The water may stay at flood stage for weeks, months, or years.
Closed Low
A low pressure area with a distinct center of cyclonic circulation which can be completely encircled by one or more isobars or height contour lines. The term usually is used to distinguish a low pressure area aloft from a low-pressure trough. Closed lows aloft typically are partially or completely detached from the main westerly current, and thus move relatively slowly (see Cutoff Low).
Combined Seas
Generally referred to as SEAS. Used to describe the combination or interaction of wind waves and swells in which the separate components are not distinguished. This includes the case when swell is negligible or is not considered in describing sea state. Specifically, Seas2 = S2+W2 where S is the height of all swell components and W is the height of the wind wave components. When used, SEAS should be considered as being the same as the significant wave height.
Conservation Storage
In hydrologic terms, storage of water for later release for usual purposes such as municipal water supply, power, or irrigation in contrast with storage capacity used for flood control.
Cooperative Observer
An individual (or institution) who takes precipitation and temperature observations-and in some cases other observations such as river stage, soil temperature, and evaporation-at or near their home, or place of business. Many observers transmit their reports by touch-tone telephone to an NWS computer, and nearly all observers mail monthly reports to the National Climatic Data Center to be archived and published.
Cubic Feet per Second
(Abbrev. CFP) - In hydrologic terms, a unit expressing rates of discharge. One cubic foot per second is equal to the discharge through a rectangular cross section, 1 foot wide by 1 foot deep, flowing at an average velocity of 1 foot per second. It is also approximately 7.48 gallons per second.
Deep Seepage
In hydrologic terms, infiltration which reaches the water table.
Dense Fog Advisory
Issued when fog reduces visibility to 1/8 mile or less over a widespread area. For marine products: An advisory for widespread or localized fog reducing visibilities to regionally or locally defined limitations not to exceed 1 nautical mile.
Dense Smoke Advisory
An advisory for widespread or localized smoke reducing visibilities to regionally or locally defined limitations not to exceed 1 nautical mile.
Desertification
A tendency toward more prominent desert conditions in a region.
Diffuse Ice
In hydrologic terms, poorly defined ice edge limiting an area of dispersed ice; usually on the leeward side of an area of floating ice.
Domestic Use of water
In hydrologic terms, the use of water primarily for household purposes, the watering of livestock, the irrigation of gardens, lawns, shrubbery, etc., surrounding a house or domicile.
Drought Assessments
At the end of each month, CPC issues a long-term seasonal drought assessment. On Thursdays of each week, the CPC together with NOAA National Climatic Data Center, the United States Department of Agriculture, and the National Drought Mitigation Center in Lincoln, Nebraska, issues a weekly drought assessment called the United States Drought Monitor. These assessments review national drought conditions and indicate potential impacts for various economic sectors, such as agriculture and forestry.
Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate
The rate at which the temperature of a parcel of dry air decreases as the parcel is lifted in the atmosphere. The dry adiabatic lapse rate (abbreviated DALR) is 5.5°F per 1000 ft or 9.8°C per km.
Effluent Seepage
In hydrologic terms, diffuse discharge of ground water to the ground surface
Emergency Services
In hydrologic terms, services provided in order to minimize the impact of a flood that is already happening. These measures are the responsibility of city, or county emergency management staff and the owners or operators of major, or critical facilities. Some examples of emergency services are flood warning and evacuation, flood response, and post flood activities.
ENSEMBLE
A collection of numerical model results that show slightly different possible outcomes.
Ensemble Forecast
Multiple predictions from an ensemble of slightly different initial conditions and/or various versions of models. The objectives are to improve the accuracy of the forecast through averaging the various forecasts, which eliminates non-predictable components, and to provide reliable information on forecast uncertainties from the diversity amongst ensemble members. Forecasters use this tool to measure the likelihood of a forecast.
Ensemble Hydrologic Forecasting
In hydrologic terms, a process whereby a continuous hydrologic model is successively executed several times for the same forecast period by use of varied data input scenarios, or a perturbation of a key variable state for each model run. A common method employed to obtain a varied data input scenario is to use the historical meteorological record, with the assumption that several years of observed data covering the time period beginning on the current date and extending through the forecast period comprises a reasonable estimate of the possible range of future conditions.
Ensembles
Reference to a set of computer models run under the concept of Ensemble Forecasting: multiple predictions from an ensemble of models with slightly different initial conditions used as input and/or slightly different versions of models. The objectives are to improve the accuracy of the forecast through averaging the various forecasts, which eliminates non-predictable components, and to provide reliable information on forecast uncertainties from the diversity amongst ensemble members. Forecasters use this tool to measure the likelihood of a forecast.
Environmental Lapse Rate
The rate of decrease of air temperature with height, usually measured with a radiosonde.
Flow Separation
The process by which a separation eddy forms on the windward or leeward sides of bluff objects or steeply rising hillsides.
Foehn Pause
A temporary cessation of the foehn at the ground due to the formation or intrusion of a cold air layer which lifts the foehn off the ground.
Global Ensemble Forecast System (GEFS)
A weather forecast model made up of 21 separate forecasts, or ensemble members. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) started the GEFS to address the nature of uncertainty in weather observations, which are used to initialize weather forecast models.
Greenhouse Effect
Atmospheric heating caused by solar radiation being readily transmitted inward through the earth's atmosphere but longwave radiation less readily transmitted outward, due to absorption by certain gases in the atmosphere.
Greenhouse Gases
The gases that absorb terrestrial radiation and contribute to the greenhouse effect; the main greenhouse gasses are water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, and ozone.
Growing Season
the period of time between the last killing frost of spring and the first killing frost of autumn.
Hazardous Seas Warning
A warning for wave heights and/or wave steepness values meeting or exceeding locally defined warning criteria.
Hazardous Seas Watch
A watch for an increased risk of a hazardous seas warning event to meet Hazardous Seas Warning criteria but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain.
Hazards Assessment
CPC's Hazards Assessment provides emergency managers, planners, forecasters and the public advance notice of potential hazards related to climate, weather and hydrological events.
High Resolution Ensemble Forecast (HREF)
An ensemble of products from several different models running at ~3 km horizontal grid spacing.
High Risk (of severe thunderstorms)
Severe weather is expected to affect more than 10 percent of the area. A high risk is rare, and implies an unusually dangerous situation and usually the possibility of a major severe weather outbreak.
High Seas Forecast
(HSF) - Marine forecasts for the major oceans of the world. In this context, major gulfs or seas (e.g., the Gulf of Mexico or the Bering Sea) are included within these forecast areas. Areas of responsibility for the U.S. are determined by international agreements under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
HSA (Hydrologic Service Area)
A geographical area assigned to Weather Service Forecast Office's/Weather Forecast Office's that embraces one or more rivers.
Hurricane Season
The part of the year having a relatively high incidence of tropical cyclones. In the Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico, and central North Pacific, the hurricane season is the period from June through November; in the eastern Pacific, May 15 through November 30. Tropical cyclones can occur year-round in any basin.
Hydrograph Separation
In hydrologic terms, the process where the storm hydrograph is separated into baseflow components and surface runoff components.
Hydrologic Ensemble Forecast System (HEFS)
A probabilistic forecast tool with the goals to provide hydrologic forecasts including an analysis of “probable outcomes” and to minimize biases in the atmospheric models and in the hydrologic models.
Hydrologic Service Area
HSA. A geographical area assigned to Weather Service Forecast Office's/Weather Forecast Office's that embraces one or more rivers.
Impulse
(abbrev. IMPL) Alternate term for Upper Level System and Shortwave; a general term for any large-scale or mesoscale disturbance capable of producing upward motion (lift) in the middle or upper parts of the atmosphere.
Influent Seepage
In hydrologic terms, movement of gravity water in the zone of aeration from the ground surface toward the water table.
Intraseasonal Oscillation
Oscillation with variability on a timescale less than a season. One example is the Madden-Julian Oscillation.
Isentropic Analysis
A way in the forecaster can look at the atmosphere in 3-dimensions instead of looking at constant pressure surfaces (such as the 850 mb, 700 mb, 500 mb, etc.) which are in 2-dimensions. In this analysis method, the forecaster looks at constant potential temperature (the temperature that it would take if we compressed or expanded it adiabatically to the pressure of 1000 mb) surfaces. Air parcels move up and down these surfaces; therefore, the forecaster can see where the moisture is located and how much moisture is available.
Isentropic Lift
Lifting of air that is traveling along an upward-sloping isentropic surface.

Isentropic lift often is referred to erroneously as overrunning, but more accurately describes the physical process by which the lifting occurs. Situations involving isentropic lift often are characterized by widespread stratiform clouds and precipitation, but may include elevated convection in the form of embedded thunderstorms.
Isentropic Surface
A two-dimensional surface containing points of equal potential temperature.
Lapse Rate
The rate of change of an atmospheric variable, usually temperature, with height. A steep lapse rate implies a rapid decrease in temperature with height (a sign of instability) and a steepening lapse rate implies that destabilization is occurring.
Magnetopause
In solar-terrestrial terms, the boundary layer between the solar wind and the magnetosphere.
Mean Sea Level
(MSL) - The arithmetic mean of hourly water elevations observed over a specific 19-year tidal epoch.
Mesopause
The top of the mesosphere, corresponding to the level of minimum temperature in the atmosphere found at 70 to 80 km.
Meteorological Model Ensemble River Forecast (MMEFS)
An automated short-term hydrologic ensemble forecast system which utilizes temperature and precipitation output from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) GEFS and NAEFS meteorological models as inputs to River Forecast Center hydrologic models.
Moderate Risk (of severe thunderstorms)
Severe thunderstorms are expected to affect between 5 and 10 percent of the area. A moderate risk indicates the possibility of a significant severe weather episode. See high risk, slight risk, convective outlook.
Moist Adiabatic Lapse Rate
(abbrev. MALR)- The rate at which the temperature of a parcel of saturated air decreases as the parcel is lifted in the atmosphere. The moist adiabatic lapse rate (abbreviated MALR) is not a constant like the dry adiabatic lapse rate but is dependent on parcel temperature and pressure.
Multi-Radar Multi-Sensor (MRMS)
An automated system that rapidly and intelligently integrates data from multiple radars and radar networks, surface observations, numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, and climatology to generate seamless, high spatio-temporal resolution mosaics.
Multipurpose Reservoir
In hydrologic terms, a reservoir constructed and equipped to provide storage and release of water for two or more purposes such as flood control, power development, navigation, irrigation, recreation, pollution abatement, domestic water supply, etc.
Municipal Use of Water
In hydrologic terms, the various uses to which water is put to use developed urban areas, including domestic use, industrial use, street sprinkling, fire protection, etc.
National Digital Forecast Database
(NDFD)- The National Weather Service's NDFD provides access to gridded forecasts of sensible weather elements (e.g., wind, wave height) through the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD). NDFD contains a seamless mosaic of digital forecasts from NWS field offices working in collaboration with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The database is made available to all customers and partners from the public, private and academic sectors. Those customers and partners may use this data to create a wide range of text, graphic, gridded and image products of their own.
National Severe Storms Laboratory
This is one of NOAA's internationally known Environmental Research Laboratories, leading the way in investigations of all aspects of severe weather. Headquartered in Norman OK with staff in Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Utah, and Wisconsin, the people of NSSL, in partnership with the National Weather Service, are dedicated to improving severe weather warnings and forecasts in order to save lives and reduce property damage.
North American Ensemble Forecast System (NAEFS)
An atmospheric ensemble of 20 members each from the NCEP GEFS and CMC EPS ensemble systems.
Observation Well
In hydrologic terms, a non-pumping well used for observing the elevation of the water table or piezometric surface
Palmer Drought Severity Index
(Abbrev. PDSI) - an index used to gage the severity of drought conditions by using a water balance equation to track water supply and demand. This index is calculated weekly by the National Weather Service.
Partial-Duration Flood Series
In hydrologic terms, a list of all flood peaks that exceed a chosen base stage or discharge, regardless of the number of peaks occurring in a year.
Peak Pulse
The amount of power transmitted by a radar during a given pulse. Note that because these pulses are widely spaced, the average power will be much smaller.
Present Movement
The best estimate of the movement of the center of a tropical cyclone at a given time and given position. This estimate does not reflect the short-period, small scale oscillations of the cyclone center.
Present Weather
The type of weather observed at the reporting time. These conditions may include types and intensity of precipitation such as light rain or heavy snow, as well as the condition of the air environment such as foggy, hazy or blowing dust.
Pseudo-Cold Front
A boundary between a supercell's inflow region and the rear-flank downdraft (or RFD). It extends outward from the mesocyclone center, usually toward the south or southwest (but occasionally bows outward to the east or southeast in the case of an occluded mesocyclone), and is characterized by advancing of the downdraft air toward the inflow region. It is a particular form of gust front.
Pseudo-Warm Front
A boundary between a supercell's inflow region and the forward-flank downdraft (or FFD). It extends outward from at or near the mesocyclone center, usually toward the east or southeast, and normally is either nearly stationary or moves northward or northeastward ahead of the mesocyclone.
Public Severe Weather Outlook
These are issued when the Storm Prediction Center (SPC) in Norman, Oklahoma anticipates an especially significant and/or widespread outbreak of severe weather. This outlook will stress the seriousness of the situation, defines the threat area, and provides information on the timing of the outbreak. The lead time on this outlook is normally less than 36 hours prior to the severe weather event.
Pulse
A short burst of electromagnetic energy that a radar sends out in a straight line to detect a precipitation target. The straight line that this pulse travels along is called a radar beam.
Pulse Duration
The time over which a radar pulse lasts. The pulse duration can be multiplied by the speed of light to determine the pulse length or pulse width.
Pulse Length
The linear distance in range occupied by an individual pulse from a radar. h = c * t , where t is the duration of the transmitted pulse, c is the speed of light, h is the length of the pulse in space. Note, in the radar equation, the length h/2 is actually used for calculating pulse volume because we are only interested in signals that arrive back at the radar simultaneously. This is also called a pulse width.
Pulse Radar
A type of radar, designed to facilitate range (distance) measurements, in which are transmitted energy emitted in periodic, brief transmission.
Pulse Repetition Frequency (PRF)
The amount of time between successive pulses, or bursts, of electromagnetic energy that is transmitted by a radar. The PRF determines the maximum range at which echoes can be detected and also the maximum radial velocity that can be detected by a Doppler radar.
Pulse Repetition Time (PRT)
The time elapsed between pulses by the radar. This is also called the pulse interval.
Pulse Resolution Volume
A discrete radar sampling volume, of dimensions (horizontal beamwidth * vertical beamwidth * 1 range gate).
Pulse Severe Thunderstorms
Single cell thunderstorms which produce brief periods of severe weather (3/4 inch hail, wind gusts in the excess of 58 miles an hour, or a tornado).
Pulse Storm
A thunderstorm within which a brief period (pulse) of strong updraft occurs, during and immediately after which the storm produces a short episode of severe weather. These storms generally are not tornado producers, but often produce large hail and/or damaging winds. See also overshooting top.
Pulse Width
Same as Pulse Length; the linear distance in range occupied by an individual pulse from a radar. h = c * t , where t is the duration of the transmitted pulse, c is the speed of light, h is the length of the pulse in space. Note, in the radar equation, the length h/2 is actually used for calculating pulse volume because we are only interested in signals that arrive back at the radar simultaneously.
Pulse-Pair Processing
Nickname for the technique of mean velocity estimation by calculation of the signal complex covariance argument. The calculation requires two consecutive pulses, hence "pulse-pair".
Radar Cross Section
The area of a fictitious, perfect reflector of electromagnetic waves (e.g., metal sphere) that would reflect the same amount of energy back to the radar as the actual target (e.g., lumpy snowflake).
Rain-free Base
A dark, horizontal cloud base with no visible precipitation beneath it. It typically marks the location of the thunderstorm updraft. Tornadoes may develop from wall clouds attached to the rain-free base, or from the rain-free base itself - especially when the rain-free base is on the south or southwest side of the main precipitation area. Note that the rain-free base may not actually be rain free; hail or large rain drops may be falling. For this reason, updraft base is more accurate.
Rapid Onset Flooding (ROF)
In the context of the National Water Model (NWM), rapid onset flooding refers to stream reaches that are forecast to at least double their flow within an hour, and meet or exceed their bankfull flow within six hours of this flow increase.
Rawinsonde Observation
A radiosonde observation which includes wind data.
Reflectivity Cross Section
This WSR-88D radar product displays a vertical cross section of reflectivity on a grid with heights up to 70,000 feet on the vertical axis and distance up to 124 nm on the horizontal axis. Cross Section is similar to the Range Height Indicator (RHI) slices observed on conventional radar, but it is not limited to alignments along the radar radials. Instead the 2 end points are operator selected anywhere within 124 nm of the radar that are less than 124 nm apart. It is used to:
1) Examine storm structure features such as overhang, tilt, Weak Echo Regions (WER), and Bounded Weak Echo Regions (BWER);
2) Estimate height of higher dBZ's and echo tops; and
3) Locate the bright band (where snow is melting and becoming rain).
Remote Observing System Automation
A type of automated data transmitter used by NWS Cooperative Program observers.
Reservoir
In hydrologic terms, a manmade facility for the storage, regulation and controlled release of water.
Response Time
In hydrologic terms, the amount of time in which it will take a watershed to react to a given rainfall event
River Observing Station
An established location along a river designated for observing and measuring properties of the river.
Rough Seas
Sea conditions associated with regionally defined wind thresholds over bays, inlets, harbors, inland waters, and estuaries where larger waves are forming with whitecaps and spray everywhere.
SE
Southeast
Sea Breeze
A thermally produced wind blowing during the day from a cool ocean surface onto the adjoining warm land, caused by the difference in the rates of heating of the surfaces of the ocean and of the land.
Sea Breeze Convergence Zone
The zone at the leading edge of a sea breeze where winds converge. The incoming air rises in this zone, often producing convective clouds.
Sea Breeze Front
The leading edge of a sea breeze, whose passage is often accompanied by showers, a wind shift, or a sudden drop in temperature.
Sea Fog
Common advection fog caused by transport of moist air over a cold body of water.
Sea Ice
Any form of ice found at sea which has originated from the freezing of sea water (sea ice does NOT include superstructure icing). Ice formed from the freezing of the waters of the Great Lakes will be considered the same as sea ice.
Sea Level Pressure
The sea level pressure is the atmospheric pressure at sea level at a given location. When observed at a reporting station that is not at sea level (nearly all stations), it is a correction of the station pressure to sea level. This correction takes into account the standard variation of pressure with height and the influence of temperature variations with height on the pressure. The temperature used in the sea level correction is a twelve hour mean, eliminating diurnal effects. Once calculated, horizontal variations of sea level pressure may be compared for location of high and low pressure areas and fronts.
Sea Surface Temperatures
The term refers to the mean temperature of the ocean in the upper few meters.
Seas
The combination of both wind waves and swell. Used to describe the combination or interaction of wind waves and swell in which the separate components are not distinguished. This includes the case when swell is negligible or is not considered in describing sea state. Specifically, Seas2 = S2+W2 where S is the height of the swell and W is the height of the wind wave. When used, Seas should be considered as being the same as the Significant Wave Height
Second-Day Feet
In hydrologic terms, the volume of water represented by a flow of one cubic foot per second for 24 hours; equal to 86,400 cubic feet. This is used extensively as a unit of runoff volume. Often abbreviated as SDF.
Secondary Ambient Air Quality Standards
Air quality standards designed to protect human welfare, including the effects on vegetation and fauna, visibility and structures.
Secondary Pollutant
Pollutants generated by chemical reactions occurring within the atmosphere. Compare primary pollutant.
Sector Boundary
In solar-terrestrial terms, in the solar wind, the area of demarcation between sectors, which are large-scale features distinguished by the predominant direction of the interplanetary magnetic field, toward or away from the sun.
Sector Visibility
The visibility in a specific direction that represents at least a 45º arc of a horizontal circle.
Sectorized Hybrid Scan
A single reflectivity scan composed of data from the lowest four elevation scans. Close to the radar, higher tilts are used to reduce clutter. At further ranges, either the maximum values from the lowest two scans are used or the second scan values are used alone.
Securite
A headline within National Weather Service high seas forecasts transmitted via the GMDSS to indicate that no hurricane or hurricane force winds are forecast.
Sediment Storage Capacity
In hydrologic terms, the volume of a reservoir planned for the deposition of sediment.
Seepage
In hydrologic terms, the interstitial movement of water that may take place through a dam, its foundation, or abutments.
Seiche
A standing wave oscillation of water in large lakes usually created by strong winds and/or a large barometric pressure gradient.
SEL
A watch cancellation statement issued to terminate a watch before its original expiration time.
SELS
Severe Local Storm
SELY
Southeasterly
Sensible Heat Flux
The flux of heat from the earth's surface to the atmosphere that is not associated with phase changes of water; a component of the surface energy budget.
Sentinel-1 (S1)
A European Space Agency satellite remote sensing mission which images with a 5cm wavelength Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR).
Sentinel-2 (S2)
A European Space Agency satellite remote sensing mission which images with a multi-spectral scanner.
Separation Eddy
An eddy that forms near the ground on the windward or leeward side of a bluff object or steeply rising hillside; streamlines above this eddy go over the object.
Serial Derecho
Type of derecho that consists of an extensive squall line which is oriented such that the angle between the mean wind direction and the squall line axis is small. A series of LEWPs and bow echoes move along the line. The downburst activity is associated with the LEWPs and bows. A Serial Derecho tends to be more frequent toward the north end of the line during the late winter and spring months. It occurs less frequently than its cousin the "progressive derecho."

It is associated with a linear type mesoscale convective system that moves along and in advance of a cold front or dry line. These boundaries are often associated with a strong, migratory surface low pressure system and strong short wave trough at 500 mb (strong dynamic forcing). Lifted Indices are typically -6 or lower and the advection of dry air in the mid-troposphere (3-7 km above ground) by relatively strong winds leads to high convective instability and increased downdraft potential. The bow echoes move along the line in the direction of the mean flow, often southwest to northeast. These storms move at speeds exceeding 35 knots. Squall line movement is often less than 30 knots.
SERN
Southeastern
Service Hydrologist
The designated expert of the hydrology program at a WFO.
Servo Loop
In radar meteorology, a generic description of hardware needed to remotely control the motion of the antenna dish.
Set
The direction towards which a current is headed. For example, a current moving from west to east is said to be set to east.
Set-up
The process whereby strong winds blowing down the length of a lake cause water to "pile up" at the downwind end, raising water levels there and lowering them at the upwind end of the lake.
Severe Icing
The rate of ice accumulation on an aircraft is such that de-icing/anti-icing equipment fails to reduce or control the hazard. Immediate diversion is necessary.
Severe Local Storm
A convective storm that usually covers a relatively small geographic area, or moves in a narrow path, and is sufficiently intense to threaten life and/or property. Examples include severe thunderstorms with large hail, damaging wind, or tornadoes. Although cloud-to-ground lightning is not a criteria for severe local storms, it is acknowledged to be highly dangerous and a leading cause of deaths, injuries, and damage from thunderstorms. A thunderstorm need not be severe to generate frequent cloud-to-ground lightning. Additionally, excessive localized convective rains are not classified as severe storms but often are the product of severe local storms. Such rainfall may result in related phenomena (flash floods) that threaten life and property.
Severe Local Storm Watch
An alert issued by the National Weather Service for the contiguous U.S. and its adjacent waters of the potential for severe thunderstorms or tornadoes.
Severe Thunderstorm
A thunderstorm that produces a tornado, winds of at least 58 mph (50knots), and/or hail at least 1" in diameter. Structural wind damage mayimply the occurrence of a severe thunderstorm. A thunderstorm wind equalto or greater than 40 mph (35 knots) and/or hail of at least 1" isdefined as approaching severe.
Severe Thunderstorm Warning
This is issued when either a severe thunderstorm is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail one inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning. Lightning frequency is not a criteria for issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. They are usually issued for a duration of one hour. They can be issued without a Severe Thunderstorm Watch being already in effect.

Like a Tornado Warning, the Severe Thunderstorm Warning is issued by your National Weather Service Forecast Office (NWFO). Severe Thunderstorm Warnings will include where the storm was located, what towns will be affected by the severe thunderstorm, and the primary threat associated with the severe thunderstorm warning. If the severe thunderstorm will affect the nearshore or coastal waters, it will be issued as the combined product--Severe Thunderstorm Warning and Special Marine Warning. If the severe thunderstorm is also causing torrential rains, this warning may also be combined with a Flash Flood Warning. If there is an ampersand (&) symbol at the bottom of the warning, it indicates that the warning was issued as a result of a severe weather report.

After it has been issued, the affected NWFO will follow it up periodically with Severe Weather Statements. These statements will contain updated information on the severe thunderstorm and they will also let the public know when the warning is no longer in effect.
Severe Thunderstorm Watch
This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. A severe thunderstorm by definition is a thunderstorm that produces one inch hail or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour. The size of the watch can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review severe thunderstorm safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.

A Severe Thunderstorm Watch is issued by the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Prior to the issuance of a Severe Thunderstorm Watch, SPC will usually contact the affected local National Weather Service Forecast Office (NWFO) and they will discuss what their current thinking is on the weather situation. Afterwards, SPC will issue a preliminary Severe Thunderstorm Watch and then the affected NWFO will then adjust the watch (adding or eliminating counties/parishes) and then issue it to the public by way of a Watch Redefining Statement. During the watch, the NWFO will keep the public informed on what is happening in the watch area and also let the public know when the watch has expired or been cancelled.
Severe Weather Analysis
This WSR-88D radar product provides 3 base products (reflectivity (SWR), radial velocity (SWV), and spectrum width (SWW)) at the highest resolution available along with radial shear (SWS). These products are mapped into a 27 nm by 27 nm region centered on a point which the operator can specify anywhere within a 124 nm radius of the radar. It is most effective when employed as an alert paired product with the product centered on alert at height that caused the alert. It is used to examine 3 base products simultaneously in a 4 quadrant display; and analyze reflectivity and velocity products at various heights to gain a comprehensive vertical analysis of the thunderstorm.
Severe Weather Potential Statement
This statement is designed to alert the public and state/local agencies to the potential for severe weather up to 24 hours in advance. It is issued by the local National Weather Service office.
Severe Weather Probability
This WSR-88D radar product algorithm displays numerical values proportional to the probability that a storm will produce severe weather within 30 minutes. Values determined using a statistical regression equation which analyzes output from the VIL algorithm. It is used to quickly identify the most significant thunderstorms.
Severe Weather Statement
A National Weather Service product which provides follow up information on severe weather conditions (severe thunderstorm or tornadoes) which have occurred or are currently occurring.
SEWD
Southeastward
Short-Fuse Warning
A warning issued by the NWS for a local weather hazard of relatively short duration. Short-fuse warnings include tornado warnings, severe thunderstorm warnings, and flash flood warnings. Tornado and severe thunderstorm warnings typically are issued for periods of an hour or less, flash flood warnings typically for three hours or less.
Short-Term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT)
A NASA- and NOAA-funded activity to transition experimental/quasi-operational satellite observations and research capabilities to the operational weather community to improve short-term weather forecasts on a regional and local scale.
Short-Term Prediction Research and Transition Center - Land Information System (SPoRT-LIS)
Provides high-resolution (~3 km) gridded soil moisture products in real-time to support regional and local modeling and improve situational awareness.
Signal-to-Noise Ratio
A ratio that measures the comprehensibility of data, usually expressed as the signal power divided by the noise power, usually expressed in decibels (dB).
Small Craft Advisory for Hazardous Seas
(SCAHS) - An advisory for wind speeds lower than small craft advisory criteria, yet waves or seas are potentially hazardous due to wave height, wave period, steepness, or swell direction. Thresholds governing the issuance of Small Craft Advisories for Hazardous Seas are specific to geographic areas. * Eastern (ME..SC, Lake Erie, Lake Ontario) - Seas or waves 5 to 7 feet and greater, area dependent. * Central (MN..OH) - Seas or waves greater than 4 feet * Southern (GA..TX and Caribbean) - Seas 7 feet or greater that are expected for more than 2 hours. * Western (WA..CA) - Criteria for wave heights and/or wave steepness are locally defined; refer to Western Region Supplement 12-2003, Marine Weather Services. * Alaska (AK) - Seas or wave conditions deemed locally significant, based on user needs, and should be no lower than 8 feet. * Pacific - (HI, Guam, etc) - Seas of 10 feet or greater.
Small Craft Should Exercise Caution
Precautionary statement issued to alert mariners with small, weather sensitive boats.
Solar Sector Boundary (SSB)
In solar-terrestrial terms, the apparent solar origin, or base, of the interplanetary sector boundary marked by the larger-scale polarity inversion lines.
Spectrum Width Cross Section
This WSR-88D radar product displays a vertical cross section of spectrum width on a grid with heights up to 70,000 feet on the vertical axis and distance up to 124 nm on the horizontal axis. Two end points to create cross section are radar operator selected along a radial or from one AZRAN to another AZRAN within 124 nm of the radar that are less than 124 nm apart.
It is used to:
1) Verify features on the Reflectivity Cross Section (RCS) and Velocity Cross Section (VCS) and to evaluate the quality of the velocity data
2) Estimate vertical extent of turbulence (aviation use).
Stratopause
The boundary between the stratosphere and mesosphere.
Sudden Impulse (SI+ or SI-)
In solar-terrestrial terms, a sudden perturbation of several gammas in the northward component of the low-latitude geomagnetic field, not associated with a following geomagnetic storm. (An SI becomes an SC if a storm follows.)
Sunrise
The phenomenon of the sun's daily appearance on the eastern horizon as a result of the earth's rotation. The word is often used to refer to the time at which the first part of the sun becomes visible in the morning at a given location.
Sunset
The phenomenon of the sun's daily disappearance below the western horizon as a result of the earth's rotation. The word is often used to refer to the time at which the last part of the sun disappears below the horizon in the evening at a given location.
Surface-based Convection
Convection occurring within a surface-based layer, i.e., a layer in which the lowest portion is based at or very near the earth's surface. Compare with elevated convection.
Tilt Sequence
Radar term indicating that the radar antenna is scanning through a series of antenna elevations in order to obtain a volume scan.
Transverse Bands
Bands of clouds oriented perpendicular to the flow in which they are embedded. They often are seen best on satellite photographs. When observed at high levels (i.e., in cirrus formations), they may indicate severe or extreme turbulence. Transverse bands observed at low levels (called transverse rolls or T rolls) often indicate the presence of a temperature inversion (or cap) as well as directional shear in the low- to mid-level winds. These conditions often favor the development of strong to severe thunderstorms.
Transverse Rolls
Elongated low-level clouds, arranged in parallel bands and aligned parallel to the low-level winds but perpendicular to the mid-level flow. Transverse rolls are one type of transverse band, and often indicate an environment favorable for the subsequent development of supercells. Since they are aligned parallel to the low-level inflow, they may point toward the region most likely for later storm development.
Tropopause
The upper boundary of the troposphere, usually characterized by an abrupt change in lapse rate from positive (decreasing temperature with height) to neutral or negative (temperature constant or increasing with height).
Tropopause Jet
Type of jet stream found near the tropopause. Examples of this type of jet are the subtropical and polar fronts.
Typhoon Season
The part of the year having a relatively high incidence of tropical cyclones. In the western North Pacific, the typhoon season is from July 1 to December 15. Tropical cyclones can occur year-round in any basin.
Unsettled
In meteorological use: A colloquial term used to describe a condition in the atmosphere conducive to precipitation. This term typically is associated with the passage of surface or upper level low pressure systems, fronts or other phenomenon when precipitation expected.

In solar-terrestrial use: With regard to geomagnetic levels, a descriptive word specifically meaning that 8 is less than or equal to the Ap Index which is less than or equal to 15.
Vadose Zone
The locus of points just above the water table where soil pores may either contain air or water. This is also called the zone of aeration
Velocity Cross Section
This WSR-88D radar product displays a vertical cross section of velocity on a grid with heights up to 70,000 feet on the vertical axis and distance up to 124 nm on the horizontal axis. The two end points to create cross section are radar operator selected along a radial or from one AZRAN to another AZRAN within 124 nm of the radar that are less than 124 nm apart.
It is used to:
1) Examine storm structure features such as location of updrafts/downdrafts, strength of storm top divergence, and the depth of mesocyclones;
2) Locate areas of convergence/divergence (when generated along a radial; and
3) Analyze areas of rotation (when generated from one AZRAN to another).
Voluntary Observing Ship Program
(VOS) - An international voluntary marine observation program under the auspices of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Observations are coded in a special format known as the ships synoptic code, or "BBXX" format. They are then distributed for use by meteorologists in weather forecasting, by oceanographers, ship routing services, fishermen, and many others.
Warm Sector
A region of warm surface air between a cold front and a warm front.
Watercourse
Any surface flow such as a river, stream, tributary.
Wind Rose
A diagram, for a given locality or area, showing the frequency and strength of the wind from various directions.
XSEC
Cross Section

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     Page last Modified: 25 June, 2009 1:01 PM