An evaluation of the Medium-Intensity Airport Weather System (MIAWS) products at the Memphis, TN and Jackson, MS International Airports
The FAA is procuring aviation weather systems, which are designed to enhance safety/capacity and reduce delays at U.S. airports. The two most widely publicized systems currently being installed are the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) at airports equipped with a Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) and the Weather System Processor (WSP) at those terminal areas covered by an Airport Surveillance Radar, Model 9 (ASR-9). At airports not slated to receive either an ITWS or WSP, an emerging system coined the Medium Intensity Airport Weather System (MIAWS) will be installed. Currently, either an ASR-7 or 8 provides terminal aircraft surveillance at these airports. Unfortunately, these platforms do not output calibrated precipitation intensity or storm motion information. Quantitative six-level weather reflectivity data will be available once the digitally enhanced ASR-11 radar system is operational at MIAWS supported sites. The Low Level Wind Shear Alert System - Relocation/Sustainment (LLWAS-RS) anemometer network will provide MIAWS with surface-based winds and wind shear alerts. The rationale for MIAWS evolved from the ITWS and WSP prototype testing. The premise is that the calibrated reflectivity and velocity data from state-of-the-art radar platforms can be utilized to produce a suite of current and forecasted storm positions to aid air traffic control decision making. The forecasted location is a critical issue if the storms are moving rapidly. This can lead to a scenario where the weather conditions deteriorate significantly within a matter of minutes. Once implemented, MIAWS will be an essential component of the National Airspace System by providing this evolving technology to airports whose traffic counts are not sufficient to warrant either an ITWS or WSP, but where commercial carriers could reap the benefits of a high-quality weather radar system. The FAA has contracted the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL) to undertake a proof-of-concept evaluation of MIAWS. To this end, MIT/LL installed two prototype systems at the Jackson, MS (JAN) and Memphis, TN (MEM) International Airports. The system at MEM is used solely for product evaluation and refinement, while the FAA is operationally evaluating the JAN MIAWS. The focus of this report is a preliminary assessment of the capabilities and limitations of MIAWS in its current implementation, i.e. precipitation based solely on NEXRAD data. Potential enhancements to the NEXRAD product data and MIAWS algorithms will also be discussed.