The High Impact Weather Assessment Toolkit (HIWAT) uses a mesoscale numerical weather prediction model and the Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) constellation of satellites to assess high impact convective weather events over the Hindu Kush Himalaya region. The toolkit includes a suite of ensemble model forecasts to constrain the uncertainties and provides a 54-hour probabilistic forecast for improved decision making. HIWAT provides outlooks for lightning strikes, high impact winds, high rainfall rates, hail, and other weather events.
HIWAT consists of a NASA Short-term Prediction Research and Transition (SPoRT) Center configuration of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model – which utilizes the NCEP Global Forecast System model for boundary conditions and incorporates satellite data from the Suomi NPP Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) – to provide probability-based forecast guidance on extreme weather hazards. The system also utilizes NASA’s Global Precipitation Measurement (GPM) mission constellation of satellites and NASA’s Lightning Imaging Sensor (LIS) onboard the International Space Station to assess thunderstorm intensity.
HIWAT runs on the SERVIR Operational Cluster Resource for Applications - Terabytes for Earth Science (SOCRATES) platform during the pre-monsoon and monsoon season (from March to September every year). The interactive visualization system for HIWAT is built on Tethys, an open-source platform for water resources web app development, to disseminate the hazard forecast products effectively.
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NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) developed HIWAT as part of the NASA SERVIR Applied Sciences Team project. ICIMOD’s SERVIR Hindu Kush Himalaya (SERVIR-HKH) Initiative worked with the NASA SERVIR Science Coordination Office, NASA MSFC, and Brigham Young University to further customize HIWAT.
In close collaboration with national partners, the team has been validating HIWAT predictions using both qualitative (using damage reports sourced from regional media outlets) and quantitative (using relevant meteorological observations) methods. Professionals at the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) and Practical Action in Nepal and the Bangladesh Meteorological Department (BMD) have been trained in its use. Partners have shown great interest in incorporating this service within their operational forecasting system.