The Meteorological Service of Canada held a series of three Forecasters Forum meetings between 2003 and 2005 to seek input from the meteorological community on the best ways to implement a restructuring strategy and to develop a common vision related to the provision of weather forecasts. The meeting provided significant insight into a number of topics related to operational forecasting in Canada and have added to the larger discussion on these issues in the international meteorological community.

During the course of the three forums, several themes emerged as overarching concerns. Foremost among them was the future role of the human forecaster. Most forum participants believed that human forecasters should be the “heart of weather prediction,” with an increased emphasis on the analysis/diagnosis/prognosis paradigm, and recommended developing the sophisticated tools required to facilitate that role.

Using results from the forums, it is suggested here that the primary role of the future forecaster should be to develop and maintain a sequence of plan-view composite depictions evolving through time to best represent the current and future states of the atmosphere. This would be accomplished using an area-based, object-oriented analysis/forecast system, with a toolbox of numerical weather prediction guidance and carefully designed artificial intelligence assistants. The forecaster's work would be focused on high-impact weather events, mainly in the short term but also in the longer term when necessary. Products would be automatically generated from the weather object database, allowing the forecast team to focus on “hands on” meteorology and maintaining shared situational awareness at all times.

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Cloud Physics and Severe Weather Research Section, Environment Canada, Toronto, Ontario, Canada