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Winter Weather and Aviation

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  1. Winter Weather and Aviation Mike Bardou Meteorologist National Weather Service Romeoville, IL Jonathan Leffler Meteorologist Center Weather Service Unit Aurora, IL

  2. Summary NWS Background Weather Basics Hazards Planning

  3. Weather Forecast Offices (WFO)

  4. National Weather Service WFORomeoville, IL • Located about 30 miles southwest of Downtown Chicago • 27 full-time staff members • At least 2-3 per shift

  5. WFO Aviation Weather Services • TAFs (every 2 hrs on weekdays/3 hrs on weekends) - KORD - KMDW - KRFD - KDPA - KGYY • Aviation Forecast Discussion • Soaring Forecasts

  6. TAF Sites

  7. Center Weather Service Units (CWSU)

  8. Center Weather Service UnitAurora, IL Located within the City of Aurora, IL about 40 miles west of Downtown Chicago Staffed by 4 NWS meteorologists from 5:00 am – 9:00 pm, 7 days a week.

  9. CWSU Aviation Weather Services • Provide Professional Meteorological Services to FAA Air Traffic System Accomplished with: • Liaison to NWS Forecast Offices • In-person and telephone briefings to local FAA facilities • Center Weather Advisories (short-fuse “warnings”) • Collaborative Convective Forecast Products (CCFP) • Web-based products/decision aids

  10. Weather Phenomena • High Pressure • Low Pressure • Cold Front • Warm Front • Occluded Front

  11. High Pressure • Overall sinking motion, stable conditions • Calm or near calm surface winds, except at far perimeter of high • Can have Cu growth, but normally little vertical extent to clouds • Favorable for fog development, esp. if ground is wet and skies are clear overnight • Snow covered ground can keep persistent IFR as airmass changes very little

  12. Low Pressure • Overall rising motion, unstable conditions • Moderate to very strong surface winds in cyclonic (counter-clockwise) motion • Great vertical extend of clouds (TSRA, SHRA) • Fog development typically not favorable due to stronger winds & mixing of drier air • Can help “scrub” atmosphere from stagnant high pressure

  13. Warm Front • Shallow sloping surface = less vertical extent • Winds usually SE shifting to SW after passage • Thickening & lowering of clouds ahead of front with widespread, layered precipitation • Warm and stable once warm front passes

  14. Cold Front • Steep sloping surface = greater vertical extent • Winds usually SW shifting NW after passage • Lines of TSRA/SHRA ahead/along front with residual -RA/DZ in some cases • Skies clearing and becoming stable

  15. Occluded Front • Acts similar to cold front, but normally not as strong • Can maintain SHRA and possible TSRA if atmosphere remains unstable (upper level low) • Wind direction varies based on position of low

  16. Low Pressure Lifecycle

  17. Weather Map Features

  18. Tools

  19. Average Snowfall

  20. Weather Hazards • Winds • Ceilings • Visibility • Precipitation • Icing • Turbulence

  21. Wind Speed and Direction

  22. Ceilings • Clouds typically develop as saturation occurs at a particular level • Cloud base is dependent on the level that saturation occurs • Thickness of cloud cover is dependent on depth of the saturated layer

  23. Ceilings

  24. Visibility Radiation Fog Advection Fog Typical ahead of warm fronts Can occur with weak movement of warmer air over snow cover…can be prolonged Strong low level inversion develops (warm air moving over cold air) South or east component to the wind is favorable • Develops overnight with weak flow • Common under high pressure

  25. Precipitation • Need upward motion and moisture to develop precipitation • Precipitation type (RA, SN, FZRA, PL…) is dependent on the vertical temperature structure through the atmosphere • Depth of cold/warm layers determines if freezing/melting occur as precipitation falls to the ground

  26. Freezing Precipitation Frequency

  27. Precipitation Intensity • Determines visibility reductions in falling precip • Strength of upward motion and amount of moisture in the atmosphere helps determine intensity • 2 to 3 miles with light snow is common • 1 mile or less is common in heavy bands of snow

  28. Biggest TAF Challenges • Stratus or Fog?? Both?? Slight improvements/deterioration (eg. LIFR to IFR etc.) • Precipitation Type • Thunderstorm coverage • Thunderstorm timing

  29. Icing

  30. Areas Where Icing Occurs • Most non-convective icing occurs in late fall through early spring • Significant icing potential increased in areas of: • Cold air advection • Relative humidity greater than 85% (the higher, the more potential) • Enhanced upward vertical motion (trofs, fronts, orographic lift) • Icing can occur anywhere super cooled water droplets come in contact with an aircraft surface temperature below freezing • 85% of all icing conditions occur in vicinity of frontal systems

  31. Type is largely temperature dependent

  32. Turbulence

  33. Turbulence Most common in cold season (fall-winter) as jet speeds increase Associated with speed & directional shears (horizontal & vertical) - not just jet strength Satellite clues and soundings can help

  34. Satellite Clues

  35. Sounding Example 1

  36. Sounding Example 2

  37. Sounding Example 3

  38. Planning Ahead • TAFs • TAF Trends • Forecast Discussion • ADDS Tools • Icing/Turbulence • AIRMETs/SIGMETs • PIREPS • Winter Weather Headlines

  39. Aviation Forecast Discussion • Issued by most local offices that issue TAFs • Explains the reasoning behind the TAF • May also indicate confidence in the forecast and potential deviations that may occur • Can also help provide info for conditions between the TAF sites

  40. Winter Weather Headlines

  41. Aviation Weather Resources ADDS Forecast Maps NWS Chicago CWSU (ZAU)

  42. How You Can Help…PIREPs!! -Limited observational data above the surface -They help us with the forecast -They also help other pilots http://adds.aviationweather.gov/pireps/java/

  43. Questions??