NOAA/National Weather Service's Warning Decision Training BranchUnited States Department of Commerce
Commerce Learning Center

The Tropical Meteorology Professional Development Series (PDS)

This course is one part of the Tropical Meteorology PDS that was developed during the Summer and Fall of 2013 as a direct result of the Hurricane Sandy Supplemental funding bill. This course is the first training to be developed as a direct result of this initiative.

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Residence/Virtual Courses
Web-Based Training Release Dates

Warning Decision Training Division

Office of Chief Learning Officer

Tropical Cyclone Tornadoes Course


Course Description

Landfalling tropical cyclones pose many threats life and property, including storm surge, strong straight-line winds, inland flooding, and tornadoes. The tornado threat is often overshadowed by the other threats, but the impacts from tropical cyclone tornadoes can be significant. Tornadic outbreaks that occur during landfalling tropical cyclone events often produce storms that are more difficult to observe and result in poorer NWS performance metrics, in general, than other tornado outbreaks.

This course provides training to help NWS forecasters address the tornado threat during landfalling tropical cyclone events. The training looks at climatological patterns, environmental parameters, and radar signatures that may help forecasters better identify potentially tornadic storms. Issues involving storm-based warning issuance are discussed with an emphasis placed on using environmental and radar data to help reduce False Alarm Ratio (FAR) for Tornado Warnings (TORs) during these events. Techniques for improving communication with key partners in the emergency management and media are also addressed. A short simulation exercise is provided at the end of the course to help forecasters tie all of these concepts together.

Performance Objectives

  • Demonstrate a process for continuous evaluation of tornado threats to support effective warning methodology during tropical cyclone events

Course Completion Instructions

Completion for all of the required elements of this course is measured through the NWS Learning Center. Each required element (including the WES Simulation) have a quiz that must be completed in order to receive completion credit. Students experiencing bandwidth issues can download the course materials from the links provided below, view the lesson, and then login to the NWS Learning Center and proceed directly to the quiz at the end of each lesson to get credit.

To get a completion certificate for the "Tropical Cyclone Tornadoes Course," students must perform the following tasks:

1. Complete "Lesson 1: Threat Assessment"
2. Complete "Lesson 2: Radar Product Analysis and Storm Interrogation"
3. Complete "Lesson 3: Storm-Based Warning Strategies for Tropical Cyclone Tornadic Storms"

Course Outline

Lesson 1: Threat Assessment

Brief Description:This module will address techniques to improve in the threat assessment process in order to better anticipate favorable environments for tropical cyclone tornadoes. The module identifies key climatological factors, synoptic-scale environments and near-storm environmental ingredients that are favorable for the development of tropical cyclone tornadoes. Also included in this lesson are some general guideline parameter values to use while assessing the short-term threat for tropical cyclone tornadoes. An optional case-study is also provided as a compliment to this lesson for those who would like to practice the techniques discussed in the web-module.
Delivery Method: On-line Training Module
Approximate Completion Time: 30 minutes

Lesson 2: Radar Product Analysis and Storm Interrogation

Brief Description: This module will address radar interrogation techniques and signatures that can assist in the identification of the potentially tornadic convection during tropical cyclones. The module identifies key guidelines regarding mesocyclone strength and supercell features that add confidence in the warning decision making process. The module concludes with a series of radar interrogation guidance to help address the high false alarm rate issue identified in the NWS Service Assessment on Hurricane Irene while keeping a high probability of detection.
Delivery Method: On-line Training Module
Approximate Completion Time: 35 minutes

Lesson 3: Storm-Based Warning Strategies for Tropical Cyclone Tornadic Storms

Brief Description: This lesson reviews the content of the first two lessons in this course and discusses how the research results presented could be applied to warning decision making. References to previous Storm-Based Warning training that may be helpful during these events are provided. Lastly, issues specific to tornadic storms in tropical cyclone events are discussed.
Delivery Method: On-line Training Module
Approximate Completion Time: 40 minutes

Other Course Information

The content of these lessons are derived from these previous works and applied research conducted here at WDTD. If you have any questions about this course, please contact us at or you can use WDTD's feedback form.

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