The Memphis ITWS convective forecasting collaborative demonstration
Accurate, short-term forecasts of where thunderstorms will develop, move and decay allow for strategic traffic management in and around the aviation terminal and enroute airspace. Pre-planning to avoid adverse weather conditions provides safe, smooth and continuous air traffic flow and savings in both fuel cost and time. Wolfson, et. al ( 1997) describe the problem of convective weather forecasting for FAA applications. In 1995, National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MIT-LL) and National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) scientists and engineers agreed to collaborate on the development of a convective weather forecasting algorithm for use in airport terminal areas. Each laboratory brings special strengths to the project. NCAR has been developing techniques for precise, short-term (0-60 minutes) forecasts of thunderstorm initiation, movement and dissipation for the FAA over the past ten years and has developed the Auto-Nowcaster software. MIT-LL has been developing real-time algorithms for the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS), including techniques for storm tracking, gust front detection, and calculating storm growth and decay (as part of predicting microbursts) . NSSL has been working on the NEXRAD Storm Cell Identification and Tracking (SCIT) algorithm, and on understanding the predictive value of the storm cell information. Thus by using the latest research results and best techniques available at each laboratory, the collaborative effort will hopefully result in a superior convective weather forecasting algorithm. Our goal in the immediate future is to develop a joint algorithm that can be demonstrated to users of terminal weather information, so that the benefits of convective weather forecast information can be realized, and the remaining needs can be assessed. As a first effort in the collaboration, the laboratories fielded their individual algorithms at the Memphis ITWS site. This paper gives an overview of our collaborative experiment in Memphis, the system each laboratory operated, some preliminary analysis of our performance on one case, and our plans for the near future.