Washington Report: New convective wx tool goes online

 - May 29, 2008, 10:22 AM
The National Convective Weather Forecast (NCWF), which combines National Weather Service (NWS) radar mosaics and cloud-to-ground lightning data into a
six-color hazardous weather depiction, is now available on the Internet and the NWS information networks.

Designed and developed by the National Weather Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo., and MIT Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington, Mass., it provides pilots with a plotted map depicting the current location of convective hazards and where they will be an hour later.

Updated every five minutes, the graphic shows current conditions and anticipated location of the convective weather an hour into the future. According to the FAA, the advanced storm information will make it easier for commercial and private pilots to chart their way around weather hazards in the U.S.

The National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been running NCWF as an experimental product for the past 16 months and now considers it a full-fledged and reliable aviation weather forecast product. “We anticipate the NCWF will be a great value to pilots in planning and executing their flight routes by showing the quickest and easiest ways to avoid turbulent weather,” said Jack May, acting director of NOAA’s Aviation Weather Center.

Pilots, federal aviation weather briefers, air traffic control specialists and airline dispatchers who routinely make operational decisions associated with thunderstorm hazards will use the NCWF, the FAA said. It is designed to filter out brief, small-scale storms that are not a hazard to aviation or are not likely to persist for an hour. On-board radar equipment and NWS radar images help pilots and controllers detect and avoid those small-scale storms.

“As a private pilot, I greatly appreciate the value the NCWF adds to my decision-making process,” said Don Stadtler, FAA integrated product team leader for weather and flight service systems. “Its timeliness and ability to narrow down airspace that I should try to avoid because of potentially hazardous thunderstorms and turbulence are extremely valuable to me.”

The NCWF is now in use and can be viewed on the Internet at cdm.awc-kc.noaa.gov/ncwf.