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How PIREPS Help Weather Forecasters

Featuring Scott Dennstaedt

We all know that pilot reports, or more simply PIREPs, are extremely valuable to pilots. But they are also valuable to forecasters as well.

Pilot reports are used by your local weather forecast office who construct and amend terminal forecasts. They are also used by the forecasters at the Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City who produce the area forecast as well as AIRMETs and SIGMETs. One of the best PIREPs you can make is a report of negative icing or negative turbulence. Forecasters really need to know if they've set the boundaries properly.

SIGMETs for severe turbulence live and die by PIREPs. Urgent PIREPs indicating a severe report of turbulence, wind shear or icing come to the Aviation Weather Center where an alarm is sounded at the forecaster's desk. The forecaster must then acknowledge this alarm and determine if the urgent PIREP was a localized occurrence or may be part of a more significant event.

The Current Icing Product or CIP is an automated icing analysis tool that is run hourly and is designed to depict the probability that icing occurred. If a pilot report is in a region where CIP suspects icing, the confidence that CIP is correct increases - resulting in a higher probability.

In the end, PIREPs help both man and machine.

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