89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Development of a thunderstorm nowcasting system in support of Air Traffic Management
Hall 5 (Phoenix Convention Center)
Peter P.W. Li, Hong Kong Observatory, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Poster PDF (1021.2 kB)
Thunderstorms are known to bring adverse effects to flight safety and airport ground operations, and have significant impact on air traffic efficiency in the terminal area. In regions with rapid growth in air traffic where thunderstorms become a major weather factor bringing disruption to flight operation, the air traffic management (ATM) personnel needs rapidly-updated, real-time information on the location and intensity of thunderstorms, as well as short-term forecast of their movements and intensity change for tactical decision-making within the terminal area.

To support more efficient ATM and airline operations at the Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA), a thunderstorm nowcasting system is being developed by the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO). The system is based on the Observatory's nowcasting system, viz. the SWIRLS (Short-range Warnings of Intensity Rainstorm in Localized System) for automatically tracking and predicting the future movement of radar reflectivity echoes based on Doppler weather radar information and artificial intelligent methods. The system can provide animation sequence of the present and forecast positions, at 6-minute intervals, of thunderstorms affecting HKIA and its vicinity up to one hour ahead. The arrival and departure routes and other significant ATC points, such as corner posts, holding points, etc., are also overlaid onto the forecasts to provide graphical as well as tabular depiction of when and where thunderstorms would impact on these routes/points.

This paper illustrates the concept of this thunderstorm nowcasting system which is designed to provide ATM and airline users an overall picture at a glance of the anticipated impact of thunderstorms to flight routes and significant ATC points. With future advancement in weather information uplink technology, graphical products from the thunderstorm nowcasting system could be transmitted to the cockpit in near-real-time.

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