Photo shot across Lake Wichita TX on 10 April 1979 of the famous tornado

Well I needed an update to my research page....So here is a photo from the archives, this picture is a rather famous one from the 10 April 1979 outbreak in northwest Texas. I was 17 years old at the time, and the resulting long-lived squall line continued all night into the next day across southwest Missouri where I was a senior in high school. The tornado warnings in Springfield that next morning further inspired me to come to the University of Oklahoma and study meteorology that fall.

NSSL/FRDD Rm 3332, 120 David L. Boren Boulevard, Norman, OK 73072
Lastest Update:
March 28, 2019

Research Interests

Recent History:

From August 2012 to June 2016, I was the project manager for NOAA's Warn on Forecast program which researchs NWP methods to predict hazardous weather from convective resolving models. Dr. Pam Heinselman now leads the WoF program for NOAA and NSSL.

Since 2016 I have been the chief scientist for the WoF program where I continue to study storm-scale data assimilation methods, convective predictability, and continue my research toward improving numerical methods for non-hydrostatic models.

    As part of that work, I am interested in a number of related scientific problems....

  1. Nonhydrostatic atmospheric model development (particularily numerical methods used to solve the non-hydrostatic compressible Euler equations)
  2. The use of the ensemble Kalman filter and the local particle filter to assimilate storm-scale radar and satellite observations for analysis and prediction
  3. Dynamics and predictability of severe storms and tornadogenesis
  4. Radar and other in situ observations of supercell thunderstorms

Professional History

I have a broad set of research interests which generally are focused on numerical analysis, simulation, and forecasts of severe convection and tornadoes. My original research interests in supercells and tornadoes can be traced back to nearly my high school days in the late 1970s. While obtaining my undergraduate and Master's degrees at University of Oklahoma in the 1980s, I became an avid storm chaser and eventually was fortunate enough to be able to work on some of the first in situ deployments of instruments near severe storms with my mentors: Howie Bluestein (OU) and later Don Burgess and Bob Davies-Jones (NSSL). I got the modeling bug while doing my work with Dr. Tzvi Gal-Chen on satellite temperature assimilation for my Master's degree, and was fortunate enough to be able to work on a Ph.D. with Dr. Bob Wilhelmson at the University of Illinois on numerical simulations of tornadogenesis. This work was facilitated by the newly formed NSF computing center, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, where I became very involved with the newly developing paradigm of "computational science" that is now ubiquitous across most scientific disciplines. During most of the 1990s I was a professor of Atmospheric Sciences at Texas A&M University. In 1999 I was very fortunate to be able to return to my meteorological roots here in Norman as a scientist at the National Severe Storms Lab. My work today continues to focus on severe storms and tornadoes. I very much believe (and history I think demonstrates this clearly) that increasing our scientific understanding of these phenomena directly leads to better forecasts and warnings for the public.

Current Research Interests and Associated Publications

Dynamics of severe storms and tornadoes

Flora, M. L., C. Potvin, L. J. Wicker, 2018: Practical Predictability of Supercells: Exploring Ensemble Forecast Sensitivity to Initial Condition Spread. Mon. Wea. Rev., 146, 2361-2379. PDF Available Here

Coffer, B., M. D. Parker, J. M. Dahl, L. J. Wicker, and A. J. Clark, 2017: Volatility of tornadogenesis: An ensemble of simulated nontornadic and tornadic supercells in VORTEX2 environments. Mon. Wea. Rev., 145, 4605-4625. PDF Available Here

Dahl, J., M. D. Parker and L. J. Wicker, 2014: The roles of ambient and storm-generated vorticity in the development of near-ground rotation in a simulated supercell. J. Atmos. Sci., 3027-3051. PDF Available Here

Observation and analyses of supercells and tornadoes

Betten, D. P., M. I. Biggerstaff, and L. J. Wicker, 2017: A trajectory mapping technique for the visualization and analysis of three-dimensional flows in supercell storms. J. Atmos. Ocea. Tech., 34, 33-49. PDF available here.

Skinner, P. S., C. C. Weiss, L. J. Wicker, C. K. Potvin, D. C. Dowell, 2015: Forcing mechanisms for an internal rear-flank downdraft momentum surge in the 18 May 2010 Dumas, Texas supercell. Mon. Wea. Rev., 143, 4305–4330, PDF available here.

Potvin, C. K., L.J. Wicker, D. Betten, M. I. Biggerstaff, and A. Shapiro, 2013: Comparison between storm-scale dual-Doppler and EnKF wind analyses: The 29-30 May 2004 Geary, Oklahoma, supercell thunderstorm. Mon. Wea. Rev., 141, 1612-1628, PDF available here.

Recent papers on the development of data assimilation methods for convective storms

Stratman, D. R., C. Potvin, and L. J. Wicker, 2018: Correcting storm displacement errors in ensembles using the feature alignment technique (FAT). Mon. Wea. Rev., 145, 2125-2145. PDF Available Here

Yussouf, N., D. C. Dowell, L. J. Wicker, K. Knopfmeier, and D. M. Wheatley, 2015: Storm-scale data assimilation and ensemble forecasts for the 27 April 2011 severe weather outbreak in Alabama., Mon. Wea. Rev., 143, 3044-3066. PDF Available Here

Sobash, R. A. and L. J. Wicker, 2015: On the impact of additive noise in storm-scale EnKF experiments., Mon. Wea. Rev., 143, 3067-3086. PDF Available Here

Numerical methods for nonhydrostatic models

Wicker, L. J. and W. C. Skamarock, 2020: An Implicit-Explicit Vertical Transport Scheme for Convective Allowing Models Mon. Wea. Rev., Accepted 9 July 2020 PDF Available Here

Flyer, N., G. Barnett, L. J. Wicker, 2016: Enhancing finite differences with radial basis functions: Experiments on the Navier–Stokes equations. J. Comp. Phys., 316 39-62. DOI: PDF Available Here

Wicker, L. J., 2009: A two-step Adams-Bashforth-Moulton split-explicit integrator for compressible atmospheric models. Mon. Wea. Rev., 137 3588-3595. DOI: PDF Available Here

Wicker, L. J., and W. C. Skamarock, 2002: Time-splitting methods for elastic models using forward time schemes. Mon. Wea. Rev., 130, 2088–2097.

To search my complete list of recent publications, please see NSSL's Publications Search or download my curriculum vitae below.

Current Vitae

Louis J. Wicker (.pdf, last updated 9 July 2020)

Other Interests

Using Git and Dropbox

How to Use Git and Dropbox

Python in computational science

Lou's Python Page

Reproducible research in computational science

Reproducible Research Blog offsite ink warning

Randy LeVeque: Wave propagation software, computational science, and reproducible research offsite ink warning (.pdf, 412 kB)

Randy LeVeque: Python tools for reproducible research on hyperbolic problems offsite ink warning