Southwest is First Passenger Airline to Launch Advanced Weather Forecasting System

(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Southwest Airlines has become the first passenger airline to implement the revolutionary Water Vapor Sensing Systems (WVSS-II) on it aircraft for improved weather forecasting. The meteorology team at Southwest has worked closely with Aeronautical Radio Incorporated (ARINC), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and SpectraSensors to help provide a missing link in the weather forecasting data.

As a part of this water vapor technology initiative, Southwest has installed the WVSS-II weather forecasting systems on 87 of its Boeing 737 aircraft. The project is designed to improve the ability to forecast weather accurately by providing real-time and more frequent humidity data when an aircraft takes off or lands.

According to Carl Weiss, an aviation meteorologist for NOAA, water vapor is the most rapid-changing and under-sampled element in the atmosphere. This makes WVSS-II a key part of a larger initiative contributing to Weather Ready Nation, NOAA’s endeavor focusing on building community resilience in the face of extreme weather events. The data provided by WVSS-II upon takeoffs and landings will allow forecasters to monitor and stay on top of how moisture is changing the atmosphere, particularly in inclement weather conditions when preparedness is of paramount importance.

WVSS-II data is routinely used by the National Weather Service (NWS) forecasters in their daily operations. Monitoring the distribution of moisture in the air and how the moisture levels change with time play an integral role in forecast preparation. WVSS-II data helps aviation forecasters determine location and timing of fog, cloud formation and dissipation, and altitudes of cloud ceilings. All of these elements are critical to determining safe conditions for air travel.

WVSS-II observations add a critical new piece of weather data to the forecasting puzzle. It is the first time in aircraft operations that water vapor data is being collected to measure the humidity levels in the air. This technology has the potential to revolutionize weather forecasting, particularly with regard to thunderstorm predictions, which are a significant weather occurrence for aviation.

Source: 3BL Media

Image Credit: Flickr via Gordon Werner