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Steven J. Nieman, W. Paul Menzei, Christopher M. Hayden, Donald Gray, Steven T. Wanzong, Christopher S. Velden, and Jaime Daniels

Cloud-drift winds have been produced from geostationary satellite data in the Western Hemisphere since the early 1970s. During the early years, winds were used as an aid for the short-term forecaster in an era when numerical forecasts were often of questionable quality, especially over oceanic regions. Increased computing resources over the last two decades have led to significant advances in the performance of numerical forecast models. As a result, continental forecasts now stand to gain little from the inspection or assimilation of cloud-drift wind fields. However, the oceanic data void remains, and although numerical forecasts in such areas have improved, they still suffer from a lack of in situ observations. During the same two decades, the quality of geostationary satellite data has improved considerably, and the cloud-drift wind production process has also benefited from increased computing power. As a result, fully automated wind production is now possible, yielding cloud-drift winds whose quality and quantity is sufficient to add useful information to numerical model forecasts in oceanic and coastal regions. This article will detail the automated cloud-drift wind production process, as operated by the National Environmental Satellite Data and Information Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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