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Aviation weather workshop touches all basesAviation weather workshop touches all bases

A Feb. 26 National Weather Service (NWS) workshop in Lexington, S.C., brought together experts from various fields to share insights and updates on aviation weather issues. Presentations from 12 different areas of interest covered everything from aviation forecast model updates to airline meteorology. AOPA Pilot’s Editor at Large Thomas Horne, author of the magazine’s “Wx Watch” column, gave a presentation on general aviation’s use of briefing products. Horne spoke of issues with the transition to weather briefings provided via Lockheed Martin’s FS21 system, the adverse effects of a proposed reduction in Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) meteorologists, and the need for making more “meteorologist and flight dispatcher–only” graphic weather products operational for pilots. He also gave a live demonstration of some private–sector aviation weather Web sites.

NWS eastern region meteorologist Fred McMullen talked about the Weather–Impacted Traffic Index (WITI), a database that makes rolling TAFs, then verifies them for accuracy at two–hour intervals to better help plan for wind shifts and ground delays. NOAA’s Judy Ghirardelli discussed the Localized Aviation MOS Program (LAMP), which tracks current and forecast conditions in meteogram, graphic, and text form; Delta Airlines’ Heather Heitzman and United Airlines’ Tim Matuszewski talked about their airlines’ own meteorology departments; and the Aviation Weather Center’s Pat Murphy reviewed AWC’s Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) Web site. The ADDS currently experimental G–Airmet product should go operational in September, Murphy said. Chesapeake Aviation Training’s Scott Dennstaedt talked about advanced meteorological training for general aviation pilots.

LifeNet–South Carolina’s Tyler Dennison addressed helicopter–Medevac weather issues, saying that LifeNet’s “three to go, one to say no” decision–making model worked well in low–IMC go–no/go calls. (Three crewmembers must agree to launch a mission, but if one disagrees the mission is called off.) Jennifer McNatt of the Wakefield, Va., Weather Forecast Office (WFO) talked about NWS’ public outreach programs, and WFO–Columbia, S.C.’s Hunter Coleman made a presentation on TAF preparation.

McMullen summarized the workshop’s recommendations by saying there was a need for sharing more case–study reviews of forecast successes and “busts” among WFOs, more graphic weather products, and that CWSUs should work more closely with WFOs to help forecasters better understand what causes delays in IMC conditions. Another workshop is planned for May in Portland, Maine.

Thomas A. Horne

Thomas A. Horne

AOPA Pilot Editor at Large
AOPA Pilot Editor at Large Tom Horne has worked at AOPA since the early 1980s. He began flying in 1975 and has an airline transport pilot and flight instructor certificates. He’s flown everything from ultralights to Gulfstreams and ferried numerous piston airplanes across the Atlantic.

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