ESRL Global Systems Division

Improved Aviation/Severe Weather Forecasts through RUC Implementation

An important upgrade to the Rapid Update Cycle was made on July 11, 2006. The Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) is an analysis/very-short range forecast system operational at the NOAA/NWS/National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The appellation "Rapid Update" refers to the 1-h frequency at which a new estimate of the state of the atmosphere is generated from all available observations collected during the previous hour. From this new estimate, a new short-range forecast is produced. Because aviation operations are so weather sensitive, NCEP's Aviation Weather Center and the Federal Aviation Administration are primary users of analysis and forecast products from the RUC. Other users include forecasters at NCEP's Storm Prediction Center, where the frequently updated RUC analyses and forecasts provide timely guidance for the issuing of Severe Thunderstorm and Tornado watches. This upgrade will provide improved analyses through better quality control on observations, particularly from aircraft, used to construct an analysis every hour.

The RUC was designed and developed at the former NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory, now the Global Systems Division of NOAA's Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado. The RUC continues to be maintained and upgraded by the Assimilation and Modeling Branch of the Global Systems Division in active collaboration with NCEP's Environmental Modeling Center in Washington DC.

This upgrade will provide better precipitation forecasts in ocean and coastal areas as well as improvement to winds aloft at jet aircraft operating altitudes, particularly in the vicinity of areas of heavy precipitation. It is a valuable contribution to NOAA's mission of serving society's needs for weather information and it supports commerce through contributing to the safety and efficiency of air transportation.

Contact information
Name: John M Brown
Tel: 303-497-6867