839 Recent Efforts in Cloud & Visibility Forecast Techniques at the Aviation Weather Testbed

Wednesday, 13 January 2016
Benjamin R. J. Schwedler, NOAA/NWS/NCEP/Aviation Weather Center & CIRA, Kansas City, MO; and S. A. Lack and A. Cross

Cloud and visibility hazards have a daily impact on aviation operations from terminal operations affecting commercial carriers to instrument meteorological conditions grounding general aviation pilots. According to the National Transportation Safety Board approximately two-thirds of aviation fatalities due to weather can be attributed to low visibility and cloud ceilings. Even though this is the case, the rate of improvement in numerical cloud and visibility forecasts lags behind other aviation hazards.

The NOAA Aviation Weather Testbed (AWT) is involved in multiple efforts to improve cloud and visibility forecasting ranging from enhancements to numerical weather prediction guidance to methods of presenting and disseminating aviation hazards due to low cloud decks and visibility. Both deterministic and probabilistic forecasts are needed to support current and future aviation operations. The AWT is collaborating with the National Weather Service Environmental Modeling Center and the NOAA Global Systems Division to study and analyze improvements in model physics and post-processing methods aimed at improving forecasts for operationally relevant cloud decks and visibility values. Efforts are underway to analyze changes intended to improve forecasts in operational modeling systems including the NAM, RAP, HRRR, SREF, and Hires Window forecasts. In addition to improving model guidance, the AWT is developing tools to provide both deterministic and probabilistic guidance for clouds and visibility that will help to drive the NWS digital aviation services grids. The goal of this effort is to leverage the Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE) in AWIPS2 to produce national-scale grids that provide a consistent picture of cloud-based aviation hazards, from which aviation products such as the TAF, G-AIRMET, and Area Forecast can be derived. Results from both the modeling enhancements and the national-scale guidance efforts will be presented.

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