The National Weather Service Modernization and Restructuring Program has brought the operational meteorologist a wealth of weather data. Radar (WSR-88D), high resolution satellite (GOES Imagery), ASOS, and wind profilers have brought weather forecasters an ever increasing amount of raw meteorological data in near real time. Increased amounts of weather data on ever decreasing temporal and spatial scales, combined with the increasing processing capability of workstations, personal computers, and computer servers, bring the operational meteorologist an unprecedented amount of information. AWIPS and other new workstations will take even more advantage of this processing capability in the near future.
Given the scale and depth of meteorological data available, both now and in the future, a operational meteorologist has to assimilate larger data sets than ever before. The wealth of data can sometimes be overwhelming, especially during and just prior to the outbreak of severe convective storms (hereafter referred to as "severe weather"). Systematic methods to diagnose the atmosphere's potential to produce severe convective weather can be a great help. Many such systematic approaches have been devised in the past, the most notable being by Miller (1972). Many of, if not most of, Miller's rules are still used today. A plethora of other scientifically based "rules of thumb" and pattern recognition models have also been developed. Every forecast office should develop a climatology and rules that work for their particular region.
This paper discusses the structure and parameters of the severe weather checklist/worksheet for the National Weather Service Office at Springfield, Missouri (NWS SGF). This checklist and reference guide is specifically designed to aid in the diagnosis of severe convection and to determine what types of severe weather are most likely (i.e. severe convective winds, large hail, and tornadoes).
A word of caution: "Rules of thumb" are good tools when a forecaster is under the stress of severe weather or impending severe weather. Some of these rules are scientifically based and others have been derived empirically. The basis for any such "rules" must be fully understood by operational meteorologists. In this way, the meteorologist will know when these rules can and cannot be applied. This checklist is a tool to guide a meteorologist through the meteorological reasoning process. This paper assumes the forecaster has a good understanding of severe weather parameters.