Tactical 0-2 hour convective weather forecasts for FAA
October 4, 2004
Major airlines and FAA Traffic Flow Managers alike would prefer to plan their flight routes around convective weather and thereby avoid the tactical maneuvering that results when unforecasted thunderstorms occur. Strategic planning takes place daily and 2-6 hr forecasts are utilized, but these early plans remain unaltered in only the most predictable of convective weather scenarios. More typically, the ATC System Command Center and the Air Route Traffic Control Centers together with airline dispatchers will help flights to utilize jet routes that remain available within regions of convection, or facilitate major reroutes around convection, according to the available "playbook" routes. For this tactical routing in the presence of convective weather to work, both a precise and timely shared picture of current weather is required as well as an accurate, reliable short term (0-2 hr) forecast. This is crucial to containing the system-wide and airport-specific delays that are so prevalent in the summer months (Figure 1), especially as traffic demands approach full capacity at the pacing airports. This paper describes the Tactical 0-2 hr Convective Weather Forecast (CWF) algorithm developed by the MIT Lincoln Laboratory for the FAA, principally sponsored by the Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP). This CWF technology is currently being utilized in both the Integrated Terminal Weather System (ITWS; Wolfson et al., 2004) and the Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS; Evans et al., 2004) proof-of-concept demonstrations. Some of this technology is also being utilized in the National Convective Weather Forecast from the Aviation Weather Center (Megenhardt, 2004), the NCAR Autonowcaster (Saxen et al., 2004), and in various private-vendor forecast systems.