National Weather Service United States Department of Commerce



Digital Aviation Services Collaborative Forecast Process – Phase II


In August 2017, the OPG partnered with the Aviation Weather Testbed (AWT) to conduct an evaluation of a proposed AWT-WFO Collaborative Forecast Process aimed at producing a single set of grids that meet the needs of aviation customers ranging from local TAF users to national air traffic management officials.


The main topics of this year’s Summer Experiment are:

  1. improving cloud and visibility forecasting, and
  2. enhancing thunderstorm forecasting for aviation planning purposes


A total of sixteen forecasters will participate during the two week-long sessions. Three WFO forecasters will be in the OPG each week, while a combination of WFO and CWSU forecasters generate experimental products in the AWT, and interact with FAA partners to gain insight into user needs and decision points.


For the OPG component of the experiment, the primary objective is to evaluate the tools, methods, and collaboration process of AWC and WFOs working together to produce ceiling and visibility grids that serve both national and local needs for aviation products and services.


Each day, the group will decide where to localize OPG workstations, based on where ongoing weather presents the best opportunity to address the forecasting challenge of the day. Particular emphasis will be placed on areas of high air traffic flow that are expected to experience significant ceiling/visibility impacts (e.g., fog and low clouds); and/or widespread thunderstorm development.


The entire group will assess the quality and usefulness of various inputs, including the National Blend of Models version 3.0 (NBM v3.0), as starting points for AWC-generated national ceiling and visibility grids. In addition, they will evaluate the usefulness and usability of AWC-generated national grids as a basis for creating local TAF products. The unaltered NBM v3.0 CIG/VIS grids will be compared with forecaster edits made by either the AWC or the WFOs. Both the grids and the resultant TAFs (OPG and Official) will then be verified against RTMA and METARs, respectively.


Forecaster feedback will be obtained on the collaboration process, the tools available to accomplish it, the end-to-end data flow, and the potential impacts on workload. Based on those results, conclusions will be drawn as to the maturity and viability of this proposed process for creating accurate and internally consistent national ceiling and visibility grids.