Evolution of the SFO Marine Stratus Forecast System Decision Support Tool Based on Customer feedback, Part II: Technology Upgrades

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Wednesday, 5 February 2014: 12:00 AM
Georgia Ballroom 3 (The Georgia World Congress Center )
Austin Cross, NOAA/NWS, Monterey, CA; and C. Riley

In the summer season, marine stratus clouds fill into the San Francisco Bay. The low ceilings greatly decrease the possible arrival rate at San Francisco International Airport (SFO), where closely spaced parallel runways generally require visual separation on approach. This is of particular impact during the busy morning period where incoming international flights combine with other domestic traffic. The lowered capacity can have a ripple effect across the national airspace, requiring ground delays at airports across the country. The Marine Stratus Forecast System is a decision support system, started as a research effort in 1995, to assist prediction of when sufficient clearing would allow unrestricted landing at SFO. The site provides automated forecast guidance, observation data, and human forecasts.

For the 2013 season, a new web presence was developed to allow an open, modern interface to the project data and forecasts for decision makers. The last major upgrade to the site was in 2004, and was primarily designed around the needs of meteorologists. Feedback from users at the FAA and airlines were taken into consideration to make the most useful information available quickly and easily. The site was designed to match the modern look of the National Weather Service's main weather.gov portal and adds dyanamic interactivity to allow more information to be reached more quickly. By employing modern web technologies, the display is continuously updated, while never taking control of the page away from the user. Information that was previously only made available to the major stakeholders by password access is now available to all users of the airport.

Behind the scenes, cameras are increasingly used for situational awareness. The information they provide is invaluable for the human forecaster to make a determination of the cloud behavior and position over the approach. New archiving of imagery allows for a detailed comparison with other days to find subtle variations in the pattern.