The Terminal Convective Weather Forecast demonstration at the DFW International Airport
January 10, 1999
The FAA Convective Weather Product Development Team (PDT) is tasked with developing products for convective weather forecasts for aviation users. The overall product development is a collaborative effort between scientists from MIT Lincoln Laboratory (MIT/LL), the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL). As part of the PDT, MIT/LL is being funded to develop algorithms for accurately forecasting the location of strong precipitation in and around airport terminal areas. We began by consulting with air traffic personnel and commercial airline dispatchers to determine the needs of aviation users. Users indicated that convective weather, particularly line storms, caused the most consistent problems for managing air traffic. These storms are by far the major cause of aircraft delays and diversions. MIT/LL has already developed the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) which combines a variety of near-airport sensors to provide a wide range of current weather information to aviation users. Raytheon is currently building the production ITWS system which will be deployed at 45 major airports by 2003. The initial capability ITWS already provides some convective weather predictive capabilities in the form of storm motion vectors and "Storm Extrapolated Positions" (SEP; leading edge of storm at 10 and 20 minutes). But ITWS users indicated a desire for enhanced forecasts which showed the full spatial extent of the weather, how the weather would change (grow or decay) and extended forecast time periods to at least out one hour. Our approach is to develop an algorithm which may be added as a future product improvement to the ITWS system. Previous attempts at producing forecasts have focused on convective initiation and building from short-term (20-30 min) cell forecasts. Our "reverse time" approach of attacking longer time scale (60 min) features first is an outgrowth of addressing user needs and the discovery of improved tracking techniques for large scale precipitation features. The "Growth and Decay Tracker" developed by MIT/LL (Wolfson et.al., 1999) allows us to generate accurate short and long term forecasts of large scale precipitation features. This paper details the Terminal Convective Weather Forecast (TCWF) demonstration ongoing at Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW) and discusses the underlying algorithm being developed.