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

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
Last Updated:
September 29, 2021

Current Professional Activities

  • Chief Scientist for the NOAA/NSSL Warn on Forecast Program (June 2016 - present).
  • Co-chair of UFS CAM working group (August 2018 – present).
  • Affiliate Professor, School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma (2000 - present).
  • CIMMS Fellow, Cooperative Institute for Mesoscale Meteorological Studies, University of Oklahoma (1999 - present).
  • Weather Research and Forecasting Model’s Science Advisory Board (2012 - present).

Previous Work History at NSSL

  • June of 1999: Joined NSSL as a federal scientist in the Weather Research and Development Division.
  • 1999 through 2008: Helped fund and develop the SMART-R and NOAA-XP mobile radar systems with NSSL, OU, TAMU, and TTU collaborators.
  • 2007 through 2010: On the VORTEX-2 science steering committee and helped lead NSSL's participation in the VORTEX2 project.
  • September 2010: Joined NSSL's Forecast Research and Development Division and began work on the new NOAA's Warn on Forecast project which was to determine if storm-scale NWP could help extend tornado and other hazardous weather warning lead times.
  • August 2012 through May 2016: Project manager for Warn on Forecast.

Research Interests

  • Nonhydrostatic atmospheric model development (particularily numerical methods used to solve the non-hydrostatic compressible Reynolds-Averaged Navier-Stokes equations)
  • The use of the ensemble Kalman filter and the local particle filter to assimilate storm-scale radar and satellite observations for analysis and prediction
  • Dynamics and predictability of severe storms and tornadoes
  • 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. I left Oklahoma in summer of 1986 to begin a Ph.D. at the University of Illinois. I was fortunate to have Dr. Robert Wilhelmson as my dissertation advisor and together we investigated tornadogenesis within supercells using some of the first sub-200m resolution numerical simulations. The work was facilitated and supported by one of the five original and newly formed NSF computing centers, the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. I became very interested in the 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. The tremendous effort and resulting progress by hundreds of scientists during the past 30 years has led to a substantial increase in our scientific understanding of severe weather, and this progress has led to improved forecasts and more accurate warnings for the U.S. public.

Recent Publications

Warn on Forecast

Galarneau, T. J., L. J. Wicker, K. H. Knopfmeier, W. Miller, P. S. Skinner, and K. A. Wilson, 2022: Short-Term Prediction of a Nocturnal Significant Tornado Outbreak Using a Convection-Allowing Ensemble. Wea. Forecasting, 37, 1027–1047. PDF Available Here

Dynamics of severe storms and tornadoes

Oliveira, M. I., M. Xue, B. Roberts, L. J. Wicker, and Nusrat Yussouf, 2019: Horizontal vortex tubes near a simulated tornado: Three-dimensional structure and kinematics. Atmosphere, 10 (v11) 716. PDF Available Here

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

Observation and analyses of supercells and tornadoes

Wienhoff, Z. B., H. E. Bluestein, D. W. Reif, R. M. Wakimoto, and L. J. Wicker, 2020: Analysis of debris signature characteristics and evolution in the 24 May 2016 Dodge City, Kansas, tornadoes. Mon. Wea. Rev. 148, 5063-5086. PDF available here.

Weinhoff, Z. B., H. B. Bluestein, L. J. Wicker, J. C. Snyder, A. Shapiro, C. K. Potvin, J. B. Houser, D. W. Reif, 2018: Applications of a spatially variable advection correction technique for temporal correction of dual-Doppler analyses of tornadic supercells. Mon. Wea. Rev., 146, 2949-2971. PDF available here.

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.

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

Labriola, J., L. J. Wicker, 2021: Creating Physically-Coherent and Spatially-Correlated Perturbations to Initialize High-Resolution Ensembles of Simulated Convection. Accepted by Quart. J. of Royal Meteor., 22 July 2022. Available upon request.

Kerr, C., L. J. Wicker, and P. Skinner 2020: Updraft-based adaptive assimilation of radial velocity observations in a Warn-on-Forecast system. Wea. Forecasting, Wea. Forecasting, 37, 1027-1047. PDF Available Here

Wang, Y., J. Gao, P. S. Skinner, K. Knopfmeier, T. Jones, G. Creager, P. L. Heinselman, L. J. Wicker, 2019: Test of a Weather-Adaptive Dual-Resolution Hybrid Warn-on-Forecast Analysis and Forecast System for Several Severe Weather Events. Wea. Forecasting. 34, 1807-1827. PDF Available Here

Poterjoy, J., L. J. Wicker, and M. Buehner 2019: Progress in the development of a nonlinear data assimilation strategy for high-dimensional systems. Mon. Wea. Rev. 147, 1107–1126. 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., 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 29 September 2021)

Other Interests

Python in computational science

Lou's Python Page

Reproducible research in computational science

Reproducible Research for Scientific Computing: Tools and Strategies for Changing the Culture offsite ink warning

Reproducible Research Report from the ICERM Workshop 2013 offsite ink warning

Randy LeVeque's Software Page at the University of Washington"" offsite ink warning