NOAA 2001-R115
Contact: Pat Slattery


A new graphic storm-information forecast product for commercial and private pilots is now available through the National Weather Service and the Federal Aviation Administration. Produced by the Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Mo., a part of the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the new forecast product provides pilots with a plotted map depicting the current location of convective hazards and where they will be within the next hour.

The National Convective Weather Forecast combines NOAA's Weather Service radar mosaics and cloud-to-ground lightning data into a six-color, hazardous-weather depiction. The advanced storm information will make it easier for commercial and private pilots to avoid weather hazards in the United States. NCWF will be used to complement on-board radar systems that detect small-scale storms that are less hazardous to aviation. Available on the Internet and on weather service information networks, the NCWF is updated every five minutes.

"The Aviation Weather Center has been running this forecast as an experimental product for the past 16 months," Aviation Weather Center Acting Director Jack May said. "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. The National Convective Weather Forecast is now a full-fledged and reliable aviation weather forecast product."

Sponsored by the FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program as part of the multi-agency Convective Weather Product Development Team, the product was designed and developed by NOAA-funded research at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., and NOAA's National Weather Service. The team was comprised of representatives from Massachusetts Institute of Technology Lincoln Laboratories, the National Severe Storms Laboratory, the Aviation Weather Center and NCAR. The NCWF is the first product to emerge from the FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program that was generated and sanctioned by the weather service.

"The NCWF is an excellent example of how taxpayer dollars invested in research can be used to improve the safety and economy of air travel over America," May said.

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, he added.

"As a private pilot, I greatly appreciate the value the NCWF adds to my decision making process," FAA Integrated Product Team Leader for Weather and Flight Service Systems Don Stadtler said. "Its timeliness and ability to help narrow down airspace that I should try to avoid because of potentially hazardous thunderstorms and turbulence are extremely valuable to me and other pilots."

According to May, NCWF works very well with long-lived mature storm systems, which it was designed to detect. It will also 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 weather service radar images help pilots and controllers detect and avoid those small-scale storms.

The National Convective Weather Forecast may be viewed on the Internet at

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