National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce


The Albuquerque National Weather Service Forecast Office and the Federal Aviation Administration’s Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) began jointly briefing Aviation Weather Hazards in the Southwest to operational pilots during April, 2006.  

The locally developed presentation covers a variety of weather hazards including smoke and haze obscurations, strong wind events, low level wind shear, thunderstorms, microbursts, the dryline, mountain wave turbulence and icing.  Forecasters also explain the process of creating, monitoring and updating Center Weather Advisories, the Collaborative Convective Forecast Product, Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts and Transcribed Weather Broadcasts.  The Power Point briefing concludes with a trip to the Internet, where pilots learn about new features like RIDGE-radar overlays, the Hourly Weather Graph, and graphical forecasts from the National Digital Forecast Database.

The team effort helps pilots meet semi-annual training requirements, teaches them to interpret weather forecasts more effectively, and introduces them to products that may make flight planning easier. Pilots have found the conversation engaging and contributed some of their own cockpit experiences with hazardous weather as examples. Thus, forecasters have synergistically benefited from pilots’ insightful perspectives. The rewarding exchange does not stop with the briefing. Before one presentation at an Albuquerque air charter company, four forecasters participated in a tour of the company’s operations center. After another briefing for a different organization later in the month, pilots toured the WFO Albuquerque operations area and watched a weather balloon launch.

 If your company would like to receive the Aviation Weather Hazards in the Southwest presentation, please contact David Craft at 505-243-0702 extension 0, or via email at

Aviation Weather Hazards in the Southwest
Briefing Outline

1.  Very brief background-about NWS Albuquerque and the FAAs ZAB ARTCC Weather Service Unit (CWSU)

2.  Weather Hazards

a.       Smoke and haze obscuration

b.      Spring and East Winds

c.       Low level wind shear

d.      Thunderstorms and thunderstorm season (monsoon)

e.       Microbursts

f.        Dryline

g.       Turbulence-convective, mechanical, mountain wave, high altitude

h.       Mountain obscuration

i.         Icing-clear, mixed, rime, locations, intensities

3.  Forecast Products and Internet Resources

              a.       Collaborative Convective Forecast Product

b.      Center Weather Advisory

c.       Aviation Weather Center Digital Data Service (internet)

d.      TAF/TWEB (15-minute DVD)

                        - Describes process of creating, monitoring, and updating

                        - Explains data sources (ASOS, computer models, weather balloons, radars)

e.       New RIDGE-Radar display w/ user-selected background maps (internet)

f.        New graphical weather forecasts (internet)

g.       New Hourly Weather Graph (internet)

4.  Summary & Questions