92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012: 4:30 PM
Geostationary Satellite-Based Convective Initiation Nowcasting Algorithm
Room 356 (New Orleans Convention Center )
John R. Walker, University of Alabama, Huntsville, AL; and J. R. Mecikalski, C. P. Jewett, and L. A. Schultz

A particularly challenging problem today, especially for operational forecasters, is our current lack of ability to accurately forecast the location and time of convective initiation (CI) events. However, one recent advance in this area occurred with the development of the SATellite Convection AnalysiS and Tracking (SATCAST) system by researchers at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and the University of Wisconsin Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (UW-CIMSS). This original version of SATCAST utilized imager data from various channels on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) to infer certain characteristics about early stages of convective cloud development, such as cloud-top height, cloud-top glaciation, and updraft strength. Via a single-pixel based tracking methodology, this system was able to monitor convective cloud growth through time, and determine which cloud elements might be associated with the production of heavy rainfall within the next 1-2 hours (Mecikalski and Bedka, 2006).

Presented here is an updated, operational version of SATCAST, known as the SATCAST Version 2 (SATCAST_v2) algorithm. The main enhancement to this version is a change to an “object-tracking” based methodology, which provides superior tracking capabilities of interesting convective cloud “objects”, and therefore greatly improves the ability to monitor the characteristics of convection in its early stages for the purpose of nowcasting CI in the near future. SATCAST_v2 was evaluated with positive results in the 2010 and 2011 GOES-R Proving Ground at the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, OK. Currently, the real-time SATCAST_v2 output is being evaluated by forecasters in multiple NWS offices across the U.S., and its predecessor, “SATCAST Version 1”, has recently been implemented in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Corridor Integrated Weather System (CIWS) to aid in the tactical planning of aircraft operations when the potential for CI exists. A general overview of the SATCAST_v2 algorithm will be presented with examples of output and corresponding validation radar images.

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