There can be little doubt that the AWIPS II operational testing and evaluation process has been rocky. But there are times when it really shows some great potential. Case in point–the GOES-R convective initiation product, which WFO Huntsville is beginning to get into AWIPS II on a provisional basis.
WFO Huntsville has tested the CI product from UAHuntsville off and on for several years, but it has not been available for the last year or so while working through challenges related to AWIPS II. This week we decided to give it a try. The installation process was nearly as easy as it was for the total lightning plug-in, except no outside software is required–the CI data arrive in Grib-2 format, which means only some minor configuration adjustments are required. Another advantage is that AWIPS II allows overlaying of multiple images, instead of toggling between just two, so a derived product like CI can be inserted with any combination of data.
We couldn’t have picked a better day to try it out. After a shortwave trough passed through this morning, slightly drier and more stable conditions were suppressing most convection, but not all of it. Several storms developed in northeast Alabama and southern middle Tennessee, triggering higher CI probabilities (as noted in the above image). Despite the waning sunlight, one of the last cells of the day had the highest probability from the CI product–92–as seen in the radar combination image below.
True to form, this cell in Franklin County, Tennessee ended up producing quite a bit of heavy rain and some lightning near the Winchester area by approximately 0045 UTC.
It’s probably early to say that the GOES-R CI product is “fully operational” within AWIPS II at WFO Huntsville, but we are on our way. I’m looking forward to using the newest version of the product as we head into the depths of the summer convective season.