Traffic Flow Management (TFM) Forecast help

The TFM forecasts provide a high-resolution model blend denoting a high confidence graphical representation of forecasted convection. The convective forecast domain is the Flight Information Regions (FIR) covering the 48 contiguous states and adjacent coastal waters. A Traffic Flow Management (TFM) Convective Forecast (TCF) training package may be found at https://tfmlearning.faa.gov/.

TCF Help

The TCF graphics are produced every 2 hours with valid products 4-, 6-, and 8- hours after issuance and represent forecast convection meeting specific criteria of coverage, intensity, and echo top height. For inclusion in the TCF, all designated criteria must be met for both area and lines of convection to meet the minimum TCF criteria.

TCF Criteria

Areas of convective cells containing (at a minimum)

  1. Composite radar reflectivity of at least 40 dBZ;
  2. Echo tops at or above FL250;
  3. Coverage (1 & 2) of at least 25% of the polygon area;
  4. Forecaster confidence of at least 50% (High) that criteria (1, 2, & 3) will be met.

Lines of convective cells

  1. Composite radar reflectivity of at least 40 dBZ having a length of at least 100 nautical miles (NM); and
  2. Having a linear coverage of 75% or greater; and
  3. Having echo tops at or above FL250.
  4. Forecaster confidence of at least 50% (High) that criteria (1, 2, & 3) will be met.
Verification

Verification for TCF is available on our verification page, and the Earth Systems Research Laboratory’s (ESRL) Global Systems Lab Convective Weather Verification Service prototype: https://esrl.noaa.gov/fiqas/tech/convective/monitor/

Government and airline industry Air Traffic Management (ATM) decision makers need timely delivery of high-confidence, high-relevance forecasts of convection across the Continental United States and adjacent coastal waters. These forecasts will allow ATM decision makers to proactively and collaboratively initiate, amend, or terminate planned or active Traffic Flow Management initiatives, resulting in safe and efficient use of the National Airspace System (NAS).

Purpose
  1. 1. Intended to provide an accurate representation of the convection of most significance for strategic decisions of air traffic flow management;
  2. 2. Intended to provide a common forecast baseline, as consistent as possible, shared and collaborated among all meteorological organizations responsible for providing forecasts of convection to Air Traffic Management (ATM) within the FAA/Industry Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) processes and/or within commercial aviation organizations; and
  3. 3. Intended for use as the authoritative source of convective weather forecast information for Traffic Flow Management strategic planning and decisions which are collaborated between the government and industry.

The TCF is used by air traffic management decision-makers in support of convective weather mitigation strategies within the NAS. It is designed to meet the needs of TFM decision makers at the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC), FAA Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) Traffic Management Units (TMU), and airline and corporate Flight Operations Centers (FOC).

Areas of convection are identified by blue polygons or solid purple lines in the TCF forecasts. Coverage is indicated by broken hatching (25-39%) and striped hatching (40-74%). Within each TCF polygon, maximum echo tops encompassing coverage greater than 25% are identified in one of four classes:

  1. 1. 25,000 - 29,000 feet MSL are identified as 290
  2. 2. 30,000 - 34,000 feet MSL are identified as 340
  3. 3. 35,000 - 39,000 feet MSL are identified as 390
  4. 4. 40,000 feet MSL and above are identified as >400

Note: The echo tops classification is incorporated inside the polygon. If the shape or size of the polygon does not allow for inclusion of this data inside the polygon, a line will be drawn in a convenient location extending from the interior of the polygon to the label.

A line of convection containing high coverage (75-100%) is displayed as a solid purple line, meaning a solid line of forecast convection alone, or within an area (polygon) of coverage.

ASCII Format

The TCF is also available via ASCII coded text via NOAAPort. The ASCII files are issued under the following WMO headers:

  • FAUS28 KKCI – 4 Hour Forecast
  • FAUS29 KKCI – 6 Hour Forecast
  • FAUS30 KKCI – 8 Hour Forecast
General Format
Note: CCFP is used instead of TCF within the product for backward compatibility
    CCFP ISSUED VALID
    AREA COVERAGE CONFIDENCE GROWTH TOPS SPEED DIRECTION VERT# LAT[1]
    LON[1] .... LAT[VERT#] LON[VERT#] LATT LONT
    LINE COVERAGE VERT# LAT[1] LON[1] .... LAT[VERT#] LON[VERT#]
    CANADA_FLAG {ON/OFF}
Header Format
CCFPTCF Header4 Characters
ISSUEDForecast Issuance Time (UTC)CCYYMMDD_hhmm
VALIDForecast Valid Time (UTC)CCYYMMDD_hhmm
Forecast Area Format
AREAConvective Area4 Characters
AREA COVERAGEConvective Coverage1 Digit Integer Code
 Medium= 2 40%-74%
 Sparce= 3 25%-39%
CONFIDENCEConfidence1 Digit Integer Code
 High= 1 50%-100%
GROWTHNot Used in TCF1 Digit Integer Code
= 3(convective growth code not used)
TOPSStorm Height1 Digit Integer Code
 FL400= 1
 FL350-FL390= 2
 FL300-FL340= 3
 FL250-FL290= 4
SPEEDNot Used in TCFInteger
= 0
DIRECTIONNot Used in TCFInteger
= 0
VERT#Number of LAT/LON pairsInteger
LAT[x]LON[x]Vertex Latitude and LongitudeInteger Pair
 Latitude= LAT * 10.0 degrees
 Longitude= LON * -1 * 10.0 degrees
LATT LONTLat and Lon of left center box
 Latitude= LATT * 10.0 degrees
 Longitude= LONT * -1 * 10.0 degrees
Forecast Line Format
LINEConvective Line4 Characters
LINE COVERAGEConvective Coverage1 Digit Integer Code
 Solid= 1 75%-100%
VERT#Number of LAT/LON pairsInteger
LAT[x]LON[x]Vertex Latitude and LongitudeInteger Pair
 Latitude= LAT * 10.0 degrees
 Longitude= LON * -1 * 10.0 degrees
LATT LONTLat and Lon of left center box
 Latitude= LATT * 10.0 degrees
 Longitude= LONT * -1 * 10.0 degrees

eTCF Help

The Extended TCF (eTCF) graphics are produced every 2 hours and valid at 2 hour increments from 10 to 30-hours after issuance time. Designation criteria for eTCF are the same as for TCF and listed under the TCF tab. The polygons are derived based on the agreement on the location of convective features between the blended model solutions.

Government and airline industry Air Traffic Management (ATM) decision makers need timely delivery of high-confidence, high-relevance forecasts of convection across the Continental United States and adjacent coastal waters. These forecasts will allow ATM decision makers to proactively and collaboratively initiate, amend, or terminate planned or active TFM initiatives, resulting in safe and efficient use of the National Airspace System (NAS).

Purpose
  1. To provide an accurate representation of the convection of most significance for strategic planning/decisions for extended (10-30 hour) time of air traffic flow management;
  2. To provide a common forecast baseline, as consistent as possible and shared among all meteorological organizations responsible for providing forecasts of convection to ATM extended (10-30 hour) planning within the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)/Industry Collaborative Decision Making (CDM) processes and/or within commercial aviation organizations; and
  3. To use as the authoritative source of convective weather forecast information for TFM strategic and extended (10-30 hour) planning and decisions which are collaborated between the government and industry.

The eTCF is used by ATM decision-makers in support of convective weather mitigation strategies within the NAS. It is designed to meet the needs of TFM decision makers at the FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center, FAA Air Route Traffic Control Center Traffic Management Units, and airline and corporate Flight Operations Centers.

Areas of convection expected to be indicated by composite radar reflectivity values of at least 40 dBZ are identified by blue polygons in 2 hour increments for 10-30 hour forecasts from the issuance time. Coverage is indicated by broken hatching (25-39%) and striped hatching (40-74%). Within each Extended TCF polygon, echo tops are assigned by the maximum 75th percentile echo tops in the polygon derived from four high resolution models. The echo tops are denoted as:

  1. 1. 25,000 - 29,000 feet MSL are identified as 290
  2. 2. 30,000 - 34,000 feet MSL are identified as 340
  3. 3. 35,000 - 39,000 feet MSL are identified as 390
  4. 4. 40,000 feet MSL and above are identified as >400

Note: The echo tops classification is incorporated inside the polygon. If the shape or size of the polygon does not allow for inclusion of this data inside the polygon, a line will be drawn in a convenient location extending from the interior of the polygon to the label.

ECFP Help

The Extended Convective Forecast Product (ECFP) identifies graphically where in the US thunderstorms are likely during a 3-hour window, from approximately Day 2 through 4. This forecast is based only on the model output probability of thunderstorms. The ECFP begins at hour 30 and continues through hour 87.

The uses TCF style graphics facilitates ease of interpretation and use with TCF. It is intended to enhance the TFM Collaborative Forecast (TCF) which is only valid out to 8 hours. The product is not a TCF forecast (it is not forecasting the exact TCF criteria), but intended to support the long range planning for TCF type of constraints in the National Airspace System.

The ECFP will be available 24/7. It will be updated around 01:00, 07:00, 13:00, and 19:00 UTC each day.

The ECFP planning tool has been developed in response to FAA and Industry needs in planning for weather hazards, specifically convection, one to two days in advance. To meet these planning needs, and to support TCF planning beyond 8 hours, the ECFP is intended to provide traffic planners and collaborators a quick-look forecast of the greatest probability of convection/thunderstorms.

The ECFP is intended for FAA Traffic Managers at Air Route Traffic Control Centers (ARTCC), FAA Air Traffic Control System Command Center (ATCSCC), airline and aviation industry dispatch and flight planners, and private weather vendors supporting airline/FAA.

This automated graphical forecast is created from the Short Range Ensemble Forecast (SREF) Calibrated Thunderstorm output. Contours are drawn at 30, 50, and 70% probability using TCF-like shading. Dashed areas represent 30-49% probability, solid lined areas represent 50-69% probability, and solid blue filled areas represent greater than 70% probability

New 3 Hour ECFP

This new ECFP depiction is an automated graphical forecast created from the Short Range Ensemble Forecast (SREF) Calibrated Thunderstorm guidance with forecast times valid in 3 hour intervals. Probability of Thunderstorm contours are depicted at 30, 50, and 70% probabilities. Blue hashed areas represent 30-49% probability, solid orange-lined areas represent 50-69% probability, and solid magenta-filled areas represent greater than 70% probability.

Archive ECFP

The archive ECFP information will retain the legacy ECFP graphics. This product is also an automated graphical forecast created from the (SREF) Calibrated Thunderstorm guidance. Probability of Thunderstorm contours are depicted at 40, 60, and 80% probabilities, using TCF-like shading. Hashed areas represent 40-59% probability, solid lined areas represent 60-79% probability, and solid blue filled areas represent greater than 80% probability.

What's New on the Website

This is a brand new page...everything is new!

Archive of old "What's New" here, so it doesn't clutter the page.

FAQ

Why is my link not working?

As part of the upgrade to the site, some pages were consolidated and some URL's have changed. Check out the link conversions to find what you are looking for. If you are still unable to find the information you are looking for, submit a question using the envelope in the top right.

Where is the METAR page?

You can view the METAR data by using the Products dropdown and selecting METAR data. The interactive Graphical Forecasts for Aviation map also displays METARs, under the observations tab. To view METARs alone, click on the Layers button at the top left corner of the map and deselect items you do not wish to view. You can view decoded METARs by checking the "decoded box in the Map Options under the gear icon on GFA. Here is a link to the observations tab: GFA Observations tab.

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Sign up for an account on our registration page, or using the Contact Us dialog under the envelope at the top right corner of the screen. Select "PIREP Access" as the category, and be sure to include your airmen’s certificate number or affiliation with an airline, flight school, government or military organization for validation purposes to streamline the process. Accounts are validated via the FAA Airmen Inquiry.

Once you have an account and are logged in, select "Submit a PIREP" from the Tools dropdown and fill out the form. For more information on PIREP submit, use the link at the bottom, or click here.

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Help page links