The benefits of using NEXRAD vertically integrated liquid water as an aviation weather product
Over the past five years in which the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS) testbed prototypes have been operational, there have been regular discrepancies noticed between the ASR–9 six–level precipitation product and the NEXRAD six–level maximum composite reflectivity product. (1. The NEXRAD composite product used in this study is the NEXRAD maximum composite reflectivity product which both the FAA and the ITWS use for weather data.). At the three prototypes in Memphis, Orlando and Dallas, staff have recognized that in certain situations the NEXRAD composite reflectivity product, which is the ITWS 100 and 200 nm long–range product, can be as much as three Video Integrator and Processor (VIP) levels higher than the ASR–9 precipitation product. This situation has caused some confusion for users of the ITWS system and concern on the part of system safety monitors. The confusion occurs because the two products do not agree with each other. Rhoda and Pawlak (1998) show that more aircraft will deviate around cells of ASR–9 VIP level 4 or greater than will penetrate them. There is also an aviation rule–of–thumb that pilots and air traffic specialists use which states cells of VIP level 3 or greater should be avoided if possible. This rule is a good guide but cannot be applied to the NEXRAD composite product. While the NEXRAD composite may show a cell with an intensity of level 3 or 4, the cell may contain very little of the higher–intensity precipitation while the bulk of the cell contains only level 2. This problem is magnified in the winter months when bright–band effects contaminate the radar data. Clutter [especially anomalous propagation (AP)] contamination of the composite reflectivity product is also a concern (especially when the AP is adjacent to actual weather returns). Differences between the two products will become more apparent with the fielding of the new ITWS situation display which has the capability of displaying both NEXRAD composite reflectivity and ASR–9 data side by side. In this study, we compare the NEXRAD composite reflectivity product with data from both the ASR–9 weather channel and an ASR–9 mosaic product as well as a Vertically Integrated Liquid water (VIL) product generated from NEXRAD base data.