THE AUTOMATIC THUNDERSTORM NOWCASTING SYSTEM


Introduction

For several years NCAR has been developing techniques for accurate and precise, short-term (0-60 minute) forecasts of thunderstorm initiation, movement and dissipation for the FAA. Significant benefit can be derived from automating the process because making forecasts for this short a time period is very labor intensive and requires considerable expertise by local forecasters. Consequently, NCAR is now in the process of developing an automated system that produces short-term forecasts of thunderstorms and precipitation (called the Auto-nowcaster). This system is initially being developed for aviation weather forecasts in both the terminal and enroute environment but it has other practical applications (e.g. water and power management, construction industry planning and public advisories associated with outdoor activities). The auto-nowcaster provides location-specific forecasts of thunderstorm initiation, growth, dissipation and movement using a rule-based technique. The automated forecast rules are based primarily on results from Wilson and Mueller (1993-ref). Additional information regarding when to dissipate storms based on their size is provided by Henry (1993-ref). The actual automated thunderstorm forecast algorithm has been described in detail by Gould et al. (1993-ref) and an initial evaluation of the automated thunderstorm forecasting rules was recently conducted by Henry (1995-ref). A real-time test of the system is being conducted in the vicinity of Denver, Colorado during the summer of 1995. A schematic of the entire thunderstorm auto-nowcasting system, which includes the various algorithms and data sources is shown below. Click on the box of interest in the schematic for a brief description.

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Prepared by Sandra Henry and Dan Megenhardt
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