While Ken Pryor uses data from NOAA satellites to develop complex equations to describe potential weather, he also uses data from CBIBS buoys to double-check that what the satellites show matches what other observing platforms indicate.
In his position as a research meteorologist with NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, he uses wind observations from CBIBS to assess the performance of a computer model he has developed that predicts the potential for downbursts and wind gusts, especially those associated with thunderstorms. A major result of his work—the Microburst Windspeed Potential Index (MWPI)—uses data from the GOES satellites in a numerical model to predict wind gust potential.
“Wind gusts observations from CBIBS determined to be related to thunderstorm downbursts, are compared to MWPI values to develop and refine a technique that can be used by weather forecasters to issue severe thunderstorm and marine warnings,” Pryor explained. “CBIBS wind observations are also compared to radar and satellite imagery to study the characteristics of thunderstorms and the surrounding atmospheric environment that produce downbursts and associated strong winds on the surface.”
To get CBIBS data, he accesses the CBIBS website, and to support people who access CBIBS data along with other data via the WindAlert website, he developed a CBIBS profile there. He also accesses CBIBS data on his Android smartphone via apps.
“I use the buoys north of the mouth of the Potomac River (i.e. Gooses Reef, Annapolis, Patapsco, Susquehanna, and Upper Potomac) more frequently due to the position of the buoys in a region highly favored for severe thunderstorm wind occurrence (winds >50 knots),” he detailed.
Pryor discovered CBIBS through the National Data Buoy Center (NDBC) when he was looking for reliable wind-observing platforms to support his research in the Chesapeake Bay area. CBIBS buoys fit his needs: “CBIBS, with an observation refresh every 10 minutes, provides near realtime wind data that is crucial to the safe and effective operation of sailing vessels. In thunderstorm situations, very often the CBIBS buoys are the only observing stations in the Chesapeake Bay region to report winds that meet warning criteria (34 knots) and indicate possible downburst activity in progress.”
With such zeal for the Bay and for weather, it comes as no surprise that Pryor spends some of his spare time reporting observations to the National Weather Service as a storm spotter and observer. He maintains a blog, Windstorm Review, where he discusses recent severe weather events in the Chesapeake region and how satellite products—and often CBIBS data—help scientists better understand these weather events with an eye to refining predictions in the future. He also enjoys canoeing on Lake Linganore, touring lighthouses, and sailing on the Chesapeake.