On 16 June 2016, multiple areas of thunderstorms across the Midwest into the Northeast caused significant aviation impacts with departure delays averaging two to three hours for the major airports in New York City and Philadelphia. Compounding the planning efforts of the FAA was a series of inaccurate model forecasts that failed to capture both ongoing and future convective trends, including an automated Collaborative Convective Forecast Product that is used extensively by the FAA. Using observational data, meteorologists were able to recognize that thunderstorms would develop and persist longer than model forecast.
The author will demonstrate how meteorologists provide crucial detail that automated forecasts may not be able to. The quick recognition of patterns in this case enabled the meteorologists on duty to provide detailed briefings and specialized forecasts allowing the FAA to mitigate serious impacts to the NAS. In a technological age with continued developments in modeling, it’s important to recognize that experienced meteorologists can still provide insight into the reasoning behind a forecast.