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Paul M. James, Bernhard K. Reichert, and Dirk Heizenreder


NowCastMIX is the core nowcasting guidance system at the German Weather Service. It automatically monitors several systems to capture rapidly developing high-impact mesoscale convective events, including 3D radar volume scanning, radar-based cell tracking and extrapolation, lightning detection, calibrated precipitation extrapolations, NWP, and live surface station reports. Within the context of the larger warning decision support process AutoWARN, NowCastMIX integrates the input data into a high-resolution analysis, based on a fuzzy logic approach for thunderstorm categorization and extrapolation, to provide an optimized warning solution with a 5-min update cycle for lead times of up to 1 h. Feature tracking is undertaken to optimize the direction of warning polygons, allowing individual, tangentially moving cells or cell clusters to be tracked explicitly. An adaptive ensemble clustering is deployed to reduce the spatial complexity of the resulting warning fields and smooth noisy temporal variations to a manageable level for duty forecasters. Further specialized outputs for civil aviation and for a public mobile phone warning app are generated. Now in its eighth year of operation, a comprehensive and complete set of thunderstorm analyses and nowcasts over Germany has been created, which is of unique value for ongoing research and development efforts for improving the system, as well as for addressing climatological aspects of severe convection. Verification has shown that NowCastMIX has helped to significantly improve the quality of the official warnings for severe convective weather events when used within the AutoWARN process.

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