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next few hours, the next few days or longer. With the advent of short-range forecasting, or

nowcasting, it is now possible to create very accurate forecasts for specific locations, such as an airfield, up to three or four hours ahead. To extend the period of predictability, nowcasts can be combined with output from numerical weather prediction models to update the forecasts frequently - at hourly intervals. However, as computer models improve, the lead times will become shorter and, ultimately, these simple techniques may be used for instantly forecasting the immediate path of a tornado, for example. When forecasting more than two days ahead, a global model is needed because the weather we experience several days ahead can be influenced by the weather happening right now on the other side of the world. As we extend the forecast time range even further, out as far as two weeks ahead, the use of ensemble forecasts becomes essential. This is because one to two days ahead the uncertainty is usually in the local details of the weather, but several days ahead the whole weather pattern can be uncertain. Confidence can also be estimated by the consistency

between the latest model forecast, earlier forecasts and ensemble forecasts. If the model is consistent then confidence may be high but if it suddenly changes then confidence falls rapidly. The decision to issue a warning is made after

the forecaster has examined forecast data from many sources, combined with their experience and judgement about the likelihood of severe weather occurring. This human-machine partnership is very important in producing accurate weather forecasts.

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been able to make decisions quickly and with confidence, which was particularly beneficial during last year’s winter. During a typical winter of five snow events, where snow is falling and accumulating at the airport, Gatwick is able to place staff on call only when the risk of disruption is possible, this enables Gatwick to control costs more efficiently. WeatherWindows has made it

Gatwick airport is the world’s busiest single runway airport, with over 242,000 aircraft movements and 34 million passengers travelling through each year. Any delay can cause extensive knock on effects to the smooth running of the airport. With only a single runway, it is

important Gatwick’s operations team plan ahead for maintenance and resurfacing work to make sure the airport operates at maximum efficiency at all times. Over the winter of 2011,


Gatwick trialled our latest solution, WeatherWindows, which is an innovative planning tool to enable decision makers to plan weather dependent tasks up to 15 days ahead. In 2012 Gatwick took the complete service in conjunction with OpenRunway - providing the airport with a seamless weather forecasting system. Gatwick has set up several tasks and

alerts within the system. This enables the team to monitor the weather conditions for specific activities at the airport, whether that’s surface friction runs or alerting for severe weather such as snow that would cause major disruption to their operations. By using the tasks and alerts set up in WeatherWindows, Gatwick has

possible for Gatwick to anticipate large snowfalls and major disruption and place contractors with tippers and loaders on call, or bring them to the airport in advance of any disruption. Frost and ice warnings enabled the airfield duty manager to anticipate conditions that could lead to freezing conditions and ensure there is sufficient stock of anti-icing fluid.

LOOKING TO THE FUTURE WeatherWindows is just one example

of how we are using our extensive technical capabilities to the best advantage of the aviation industry. It is essential to keep abreast of changes in the weather to keep airports and flights running smoothly, in fact planning for future challenges is how the industry stays one step ahead. We are no longer thinking just about tomorrow but the long-term impact of climate change and the potential effects of this on the kind of weather that affects airport operations. Ultimately we understand that

delivering weather services for aviation is a matter of partnership and inter- dependence – the forecast is dependent on the technology and the science, the delivery and usability of the forecast is dependent on our understanding of customer’s requirements, and customers are dependent on receiving timely, accurate and easily understood forecasts and advice.

AF /January 2014/ 17

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