Several updates were implemented for the 2004 operations in response to limitations identified in the previous year's operations. The primary goal of these updates was to increase the sensitivity to better capture convective initiation and also minimize the number of obvious false alarm forecasts. In order to accomplish this goal improved methods for using more large scale information were incorporated into the forecast logic (primarily through the use of RUC data). The use of these large-scale data led to more consistent forecasts and helped capture storm initiation while limiting the number of false alarms.
A new algorithm was developed that allows optimal use of satellite data in the real-time operations. Satellite data is of minimal use for convective initiation forecasts in regions where there is contamination due to large areas of high cloud that obscure the signals for cumulus cloud types and/or cooling IR temperatures that imply vertical development. The algorithm automatically suspends satellite data input to the forecast when its use is not appropriate.
These modifications result in the initiation component of the forecasts being presented as likelihoods rather than deterministic forecasts. This is much more representative of the predictability of these initiation events. A detailed description of these recent updates will be provided along with sample forecasts and statistical analyses of the results.