ESRL Global Systems Division

Texas Forecast Decision Makers Use ESRL's Tactical Decision Aid Products

On December 29th, 2006 a major convective event affected the Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZWF ARTCC), the Dallas-Fort Worth Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON), and the terminal area. Tom Amis, Meteorologist-In-Charge of the Center Weather Service Unit at the ZFW ARTCC, worked the morning, and James Ott worked the evening of this particular event.

Tom said, "Suffice it to say, it was one of the most challenging I've ever seen develop." James commented that it was the first time in his long service at ZFW Center Weather Service Unit that he had seen all four departure and arrival gates impacted at the same time and for such a long period of time. Additionally, terminal operations were affected repeatedly from late morning through the evening.

To aid in the forecast and decision making of this event, Tom, James, and the ZFW Traffic Management Unit used Tactical Decision Aid (TDA) products developed by ESRL's Global Systems Division (GSD). These tools provided them with a common situational awareness of arrival and departure impacts of convection to the DFW TRACON airspace from the current time out to a two-hour forecast in five-minute snapshots of time. Tom commented, "The product gave a visual reference that words alone sometimes do not capture. The common situational awareness of the product amongst the Traffic Management and Center Weather Service Units gave clear indications as to the serious impact thunderstorms would have on the ZFW ARTCC airspace during the afternoon and evening hours."

Unfortunately, the Air Traffic Control Systems Command Center did not have the same situational awareness, so they did not reduce the flow rate into the airspace to the extent suggested by the TDAs.

These Tactical Decision Aids were developed under the Weather Information Decision Aids project and funded by the FAA's Aviation Weather Research Program. The work supports NOAA's Weather and Water mission goal as the products enhance our customers' preparedness for responding to hazardous weather-related conditions by adding the accuracy, relevancy, and consistency requested by the FAA.

Contact information
Name: Michael Kraus
Tel: 303-497-5200