Introduction to Real Time Aircraft Soundings for Broadcast Meteorologists and Storm Chasers
Richard mamrosh, NOAA National Weather Service, Green Bay, WI 54313, WI
Curtis Marshall, NOAA National Weather Service

The National Weather Service (NWS) is now providing public access to real time soundings and flight level data from more than 130 commercial aircraft flown by Southwest and UPS Airlines. The data will be a welcome addition to the tools used by to meteorologists in the broadcast, energy, commodities and transportation industries, as well as storm chasers and weather hobbyists.


  An increasing number of these data have been available to NWS and airline meteorologists for almost twenty years, and have more been incorporated into the RAP and North American Models. These soundings supplement 00Z and 12Z soundings, but more importantly, are available from many locations far from radiosondes, and at times throughout the day and night. The data are being made available by the Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS) in bulk netCDF format and via an interactive web page available to the public.


 The authors will provide a brief history of aircraft weather data, and how it has been compared to radiosondes, wind profilers and other systems. We will then discuss the accuracy, availability and reliability of the data, and how it has been used by airline and NWS meteorologists to improve weather forecasts, advisories and warnings. 

    Case studies will show how the data have been used to monitor atmospheric stability and shear in convective weather forecasts, and how the soundings provide the necessary information about temperatures aloft to determine precipitation type of winter storms. We will also provide short discussions on how the data are used in marine, aviation, and fire weather applications.

   It is the authors hope that private sector meteorologists, storm chasers and weather hobbyists will use this exciting new data source, and discover additional opportunities to improve weather forecasts and warnings.