Predicting summer microburst hazard from thunderstorm day statistics
Low-altitude wind shear, specifically, the aviation-hazardous form of wind shear known as the microburst, has been cited as the cause of several aviation disasters over the past two decades. Microbursts are strong, small-scale convective storm downdrafts that impact the ground and cause a violent divergent outflow of wind. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recently awarded a contract for the production of 47 Terminal Doppler Weather Radars (TDWRs) to detect microbursts. Since the TDWR systems are expensive, only a limited number will be available for use at major U.S. airports. In deciding which airports will receive the TDWRs or any other advanced detection equipment, such as the ASR-9 with wind shear detection capability or the Enhanced Low Level Wind Shear Alert System, a detailed cost-benefit study will be performed. One factor that would aid in determining the benefit of advanced wind shear detection equipment is a knowledge of the average relative microburst threat at each major airport. Using "thunderstorm day" statistics and the results of measurements by the FAA TDWR testbed systems, we propose a method for predicting this threat.