Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Thunderstorm and Lightning Nowcasting At Redstone Test Center
Weather hazards pose a significant risk to personnel and equipment year round at the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command's Redstone Test Center (RTC) in Huntsville, Alabama. The National Center for Atmospheric Research's (NCAR) Four-Dimensional Weather System (4DWX) is being used at the RTC by range meteorologists to predict hazardous weather and mitigate the threat it poses to personnel and materiel. During the spring of 2011, the NCAR AutoNowcaster (ANC) was installed as an upgrade to the RTC 4DWX system to enhance its thunderstorm and lightning nowcasting capabilities. The NCAR ANC produces thirty and sixty minute nowcasts of thunderstorm initiation, growth and decay as well as very short term (15 minute) nowcasts of lightning potential. The ANC generates thunderstorm nowcasts through the use of a fuzzy logic, data fusion system that ingests numerical weather prediction output from the Real Time Four Dimensional Data Assimilation (RTFDDA), radar, satellite, Variational Doppler Radar Assimilation System (VDRAS) analyses, total lightning, rawinsonde, and surface observations, along with forecaster supplied convergence boundary locations. In a collaborative effort, the University of Alabama-Huntsville supplies data from the ARMOR dual polarization radar and the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) provides total lightning fields from the Lightning Mapping Array (LMA). The ANC system has undergone tuning to optimize the fuzzy logic parameters for different synoptic patterns that are support thunderstorms in northern Alabama. This paper will examine the performance of the first season's operation of the ANC at RTC and discuss the impacts of the system on meteorological operations at RTC.