Analysis of the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) 5-nm product suite
Currently, the prototype Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) displays six-level precipitation data generated from the Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR-9) and the Next Generation Weather Radar (NEXRAD). The ASR-9 data are updated every 30 seconds and provide a 0.5 nm spatial resolution to a distance of 60 nm (Weber, 1986). Since the ASR-9 is a fan beam radar, the data represent the average precipitation within the vertical column. As reported by Isaminger, et al., (1999), this sensor can significantly underestimate the precipitation intensity and areal coverage due to precipitation processing limitations and hardware failures. In particular, storms located near the sensor can be underestimated or missed entirely (Crow& et al., 1999). The NEXRAD data are updated every 5-6 minutes with a spatial resolution of 0.5 nm (2.2 nm) and a coverage region of 100 nm (200 nm). The maximum reflectivity value in the vertical column at each grid point is used to create the product. This sensor can overestimate the precipitation intensity near the surface due to bright band contamination and the composite technique (Crowe and Miller, 1999). The update rate can also become an issue if the storms are moving rapidly or developing quickly. In order to confront these issues, the specified ITWS product suite will include six-level precipitation derived from the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR). The data from this sensor will be depicted in a high-resolution window (5-nm) around the airport. The TDWR one-minute update rate will provide timely information on rapidly moving or developing storm cells. In many regards, the data will be complimentary to that provided by the ASR-9 and NEXRAD. In others, the weather levels could vary significantly. This report will focus on a discussion of the 5-nm product capabilities and limitations based on an analysis of data collected in Memphis (MEM) and New York City (NYC). A discussion of key product enhancements will serve to illustrate the modifications required to improve this product suite. Finally, a list of recommendations will be presented to assist in product development.