18th Conference on Weather and Forecasting, 14th Conference on Numerical Weather Prediction, and Ninth Conference on Mesoscale Processes

Thursday, 2 August 2001: 8:00 AM
The THOR project-Reducing the impact of thunderstorms on aviation and the general public through a multi-agency effort
Stephan B. Smith, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD; and D. Pace, S. J. Goodman, D. W. Burgess, D. Smarsh, R. D. Roberts, and M. M. Wolfson
Poster PDF (1.3 MB)
Thunderstorms are high impact weather phenomena. They also pose an extremely challenging forecast problem. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA), and the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), have decided to pool technology and scientific expertise into an unprecedented effort to better observe, diagnose, and forecast thunderstorms. This paper describes plans for an operational field test called the THunderstorm Operational Research (THOR) Project beginning in 2002, the primary goals of which are to:

1) Reduce the number of Thunderstorm-related Air Traffic Delays with in the National Airspace System (NAS) and, 2) Improve severe thunderstorm, tornado and airport thunderstorm warning accuracy and lead time.

Aviation field operations will be focused on the prime air traffic bottleneck in the NAS, the airspace bounded roughly by Chicago, New York City and Washington D.C., sometimes called the Northeast Corridor. A variety of new automated thunderstorm forecasting applications will be tested here that, when implemented into FAA-NWS operations, will allow for better tactical decision making and NAS management during thunderstorm days.

Severe thunderstorm operations will be centered on Northern Alabama. NWS meteorologists from the forecast office in Birmingham will test the utility of experimental lightning, radar, and profiler data from a mesoscale observing network being established by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. In addition, new tornado detection and thunderstorm nowcasting algorithms will be examined for their potential for improving warning accuracy. The Alabama THOR site will also serve as a test bed for new gridded, digital thunderstorm and flash flood warning products.

Supplementary URL: