The Evolution of NWS Digital Aviation Services Part 1: Developing a Unified Forecast Process (345)

Marcia Cronce, National Weather Service Milwaukee, Dousman, WI

Jarry Wiedenfeld, National Weather Service Milwaukee

Jamie Enderlen, National Weather Service Chicago

Brian Hirsch, National Weather Service Central Region



The National Weather Service (NWS) issues Terminal Aerodrome Forecasts (TAFs) for 665 airports out of approximately 19,164 public and private airfields therefore, about 96.5% of U.S. public and private airfields do not receive dedicated NWS forecasts. NWS Digital Aviation Services (DAS) provide information not currently available with conventional TAFs because unlike point-based TAFs, DAS will enable partners to access forecaster-generated aviation forecasts at all locations via a gridded database.In 2004, the NWS began experimenting with gridded ceiling height forecasts in order to provide aviation guidance to a wider range of customers. By 2010, several NWS offices expanded that effort to include forecast visibility grids, with the added ability to create and issue TAFs directly from the gridded forecast database. Taking advantage of improved aviation-related guidance, NWS Milwaukee adapted tools from the NWS Boston office in 2014 and created a weighted blend of short-term, high resolution models to provide a common starting point for forecasting ceiling height, visibility, and non-convective low level wind shear. This approach, combined with parameters already embedded in the forecast process, ensures consistency between TAFs and the public forecast by sharing a common database. NWS offices around the country are adopting this forecast process and streamlined tools created by GSD. The goal is for all NWS offices to generate gridded aviation forecasts by 2021. This presentation will provide an overview of the DAS forecast process and show how DAS benefits forecasters and customers while meeting and exceeding verification goals.