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Graphical forecasts expanding to Gulf of Mexico, CaribbeanGraphical forecasts expanding to Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean

The National Weather Service is soliciting pilot comments by Dec. 31 on a graphical weather forecasting product to cover the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, and western North Atlantic Ocean that would eventually replace text-based area forecasts for the Gulf and the Caribbean.

The experimental graphical forecast (GFA)  is an expansion of the graphical forecasts that became operational early in 2017, replacing text-based area forecasts (FAs) for much of the U.S.

The requirement to provide the safety-of-flight meteorological information that for many years was furnished in the text-based area forecasts is mandated by statute and has not changed. The transition to a graphics-based presentation is proceeding as pilots have expressed their preference for the more interactive format and greater access to data that the digital product provides.

“Based on comments received on the Expanded GFA and in coordination with established FAA processes, NWS plans to discontinue production of FAs for the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea once the Expanded GFA product is approved as operational and when all concerns identified within submitted comments have been addressed. Formal public notification will be provided in advance of the action to discontinue the FAs,” said a notice issued by the NWS.

Comments may be submitted by Dec. 31 by taking this online survey.

According to the notice, the experimental product includes observations and forecasts for the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, and the New York Oceanic Flight Information Region. The observational data are time synchronized and are available by the hour for the current time and the previous 14 hours. Hourly model data are available up to 15 hours in the future.

Wind, icing, and turbulence forecasts are available in 3,000-foot increments from the surface to 30,000 feet msl, and in 6,000-foot increments from 30,000 feet to 48,000 feet msl. Turbulence forecast graphics depict expected conditions below 18,000 feet msl and above 18,000 feet msl.

Maximum icing graphics and maximum wind velocity graphics (regardless of altitude) are also available. The weather product includes data such as Observations/Warnings, Thunderstorms, Clouds, Flight Category (Ceiling and Visibility), Precipitation, Icing, Turbulence, and Winds.

For more details and to test the product, pilots may view the experimental graphical forecast online.

Topics: Pilot Weather Briefing Services, Flight Planning, Weather

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