Abstract

Missing observations at airports can cause delays in commercial and general aviation in the United States owing to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) safety regulations. The Environmental Modeling Center (EMC) has provided interpolated temperature data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Real-Time Mesoscale Analysis (RTMA) at airport locations throughout the United States since 2015, with these data substituting for missing temperature observations and mitigating impacts on air travel. A quality assessment of the RTMA is performed to determine if the RTMA could be used in a similar fashion for other weather observations, such as 10-m wind, ceiling, and visibility. Retrospective, data-denial experiments are used to perform the quality assessment by withholding observations from FAA-specified airports. Outliers seen in the RTMA ceiling and visibility analyses during events meeting or exceeding instrument flight rules suggest the RTMA should not be substituted for missing ceiling and visibility observations at this time. The RTMA is a suitable replacement for missing temperature observations for a subset of airports throughout most of the CONUS and Alaska, but not at all stations. Likewise, the RTMA is a suitable substitute for missing surface pressure observations at a subset of airports, with notable exceptions in regions of complex terrain. The RTMA may also be a suitable substitute for missing wind speed observations, provided the wind speed is ≤15 kt (1 kt ≈ 0.51 m s−1). Overall, these results suggest the potential for RTMA to substitute for additional missing observations while highlighting priority areas of future work for improving the RTMA.

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