Automated microburst wind-shear prediction
September 1, 1994
We have developed an algorithm that automatically and reliably predicts microburst wind shear. The algorithm, developed as part of the FAA Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS), can provide warnings several minutes in advance of hazardous low-altitude wind-shear conditions. Our approach to the algorithm emphasizes fundamental principles of thunderstorm evolution and downdraft development and incorporates heuristic and statistical methods as needed for refinement. In the algorithm, machine-intelligent image processing and data-fusion techniques are applied to Doppler radar data to detect those regions of growing thunderstorms and intensifying downdrafts which lead to microbursts. The algorithm then uses measurements of the ambient temperature/humidity structure in the atmosphere to aid in predicting a microburst's peak outflow strength. The algorithm has been tested in real time as part of the ITWS operational test and evaluation at Memphis, Tennessee, and Orlando, Florida, in 1994.