A challenge noted almost immediately by participants was time. At the TCF desk, there is an hour in between the issuance of each 4, 6, and 8 hour forecast, during which time a scheduled collaboration chat occurs between AWC, CWSUs, and others, to determine the areas of concern for the short-term. On busy days, it can make that hour feel far too short. Adding on to that a long-range forecast each hour was found to be extremely difficult. In order to just get both the TCF and extended completed in time, participants noted that they didn't have much time to even look at new data sets. In order to add value, particularly to the long-range, it was suggested that perhaps another forecaster would be needed to focus only on that piece.
In later discussions, AWDE brought up the Extended Convective Forecast Plot (ECFP) currently available on the AWC webpage (http://www.aviationweather.gov/ecfp), an automated plot using various long range models to provide convective forecasts out to 24 hours and beyond. Any long-range models contain inherent uncertainties the further out the forecast hour, and the question was posed whether having a person creating the long range would really add benefit all the time.
|Example 36-hour forecast from the Extended Convective Forecast Plot (ECFP) on the AWC's website|
On the dataset side, forecasters were utilizing high resolution models like the NAM Nest, ARW, and others, along with the INSITE tool to generate their forecasts.
|NAM Nest Composite Reflectivity forecast in N-AWIPS|
INSITE was able to be utilized to some extent for the 4, 6, and 8 hour TCF. It was noted that it is a very good dataset for a broad scale view of possible traffic flow impacts. However, for CWSUs or planners responsible for looking at particular routes in a small region, it may not be of as much help beyond determining that there is, in fact, going to be an impact.
For the long range forecast INSITE has potential. Having that broad scale view of potential impact may be useful in the 24 to 36 hour range. At the moment, though, INSITE is only generated out to 12 hours for each model. It was suggested that for the long range, it would need to be extended out to at least 24 hours to be of use.