Training Includes Testing of Experimental GFA Tool Scheduled to be Implemented Soon

Trevor Basden, Senior Meteorologist and Director at the Bahamas Meteorology Department recently completed a comprehensive one-week training at the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) in Kansas City, Missouri.  The test bed experimental training, which incorporated the modernization tool and strategies for aviation weather services was an agreement reached between The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism and Aviation (BMOTA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) during the recent EAA Air Venture Conference in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin. 

The test bed training, marked the first time that personnel from the Bahamas Met Department participated in such a training, which included research in experimental Graphical Forecasts for Aviation (GFA) tool, atmospheric modeling, regional forecasting and the issuance of significant Meteorological information (SIGMETS).  The Bahamas was also added to the global forecast chat, whose expanded GFA covers the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean and will in early 2019, include the Pacific Ocean beyond Hawaii and the Alaskan region.

The GFA is the foundation upon which future advancements are built and provides the entire aviation community with the latest advances in aviation weather services along with the National Weather Service, the authority on aviation information.  On the completion of its experimental evaluation phase, the GFA will replace the outdated text-based forecast with a more detailed graphical forecast in terms of the amount of information for flight planning. 

Ellison “Tommy” Thompson, Deputy Director General, BMOTA who made the training agreement with NOAA, said, “The 700 islands of The Bahamas, spans a large geographical area of more than100,000 square miles.  Tourism is our economic lifeline and the safety of our visitors and residents is paramount.  It is imperative therefore that they are knowledgeable and prepared in advance, for any potential and life threatening weather conditions that may be affecting their areas. Likewise, it is equally important that the media and the world at large, knows, understands and appreciates the uniqueness of our geographical make up, and that for instance, if one of our islands in the south is affected by a hurricane, it does not means that our central or northern islands are impacted by such adverse weather conditions.” 

“Additionally, we are appreciative of the relationship we have established with NOAA and are delighted to take full advantage of their tools and resources, including the special test bed training of the new GFA expansion tool, which, is expected to give more accurate information on current and forecasted weather conditions, including wind turbulence, weather, thunderstorms, storm warnings, etc. which, we know will ultimately benefit our country and its people,” he said. 

In 2016, The Bahamas was awarded the first “Weather Ready Nation Ambassador” status from NOAA for its commitment to the education, preparedness and protection of its citizenry, visitors and communities during extreme weather conditions.

According to Ed Holicky, International Federal Partnership Chairman and Senior Aviation Meteorologist at NOAA/NWS/AWC, ”The Bahamas’ participation at this training will benefit its forecasters greatly.  Having Director Basden here was instrumental in getting his perspective on products that impacted his region.  He was able to assess how the Experimental GFA performed for the Caribbean Region and provided excellent feedback.  He also learned how we issue aviation SIGMETS significant Meteorological information for The Bahamas and how we conduct our global chats with countries around the world, of which The Bahamas is now a part,” he said.   

Facilitator and AWC’s Techniques Development Meteorologist for the one-week training, Dr. Steven Lack said “it was a great opportunity for The Bahamas and Trevor Basden to participate in this training as it provided him with direct connection to the tool being developed.  Each year we conduct training in research, and invite researchers from the U.S. and around the world that work in atmospheric modeling.  We bring in aviation forecasters from different National Weather Service (NWS) offices along with our internal Aviation Weather Center forecasters to see some of the new research that may make it into operations.  We also conduct testing of our products with a number of users, including pilots and air traffic personnel, and partner with the FAA so that we can gather feedback on any products and services that may be of benefit to both the NWS and the FAA in the future to ensure safe and efficient flight”. 

“The number one thing we needed before moving these products into full operation is a user assessment and Trevor was a big part of that process, especially for his region.    He provided us with direct feedback on how his team might use the tool and ideas for improvements on the current tool as well as finding some bugs in the current tool.  Having the developers in the same room as a critical user is invaluable in getting the best product possible out to the end-users.  It also establishes a future relationship where it is easy to share new advancements and get instant feedback,” said Lack. 

“The Gulf and Caribbean are critical aviation markets for tourism, offshore platform operations, and search and rescue and this new relationship with Trevor is only going to enhance our levels of service for that area,” he said. 

Basden said he is appreciative of the training, which he knows will substantially benefit aviators flying into The Bahamas.

“Meteorologists look at weather conditions differently from pilots, so I was especially pleased that I was afforded the opportunity to evaluate the new GFA tool and align it with the complex components and weather variables for our area, develop weather forecasts and flight plans in advance and then compare those plans with actual weather conditions, with a 90% or greater degree of accuracy.  This new graphical system will significantly aide general aviators in planning their flight and understanding weather conditions enroute to and around The Bahamas,” he said.

“Commencing the first week in November (2018) I will begin one-on-one training of the new GFA tool, with our met team in The Bahamas,” he concluded.

Media Contact: D. Earnestine Moxyz | 954-236-9292 |

Photo credits:  AWC Staff

Pictured left to right are: Ed Holicky, Sr. Aviation Meteorologist, NOAA/NWS/AWC; Trevor Basden, Director Bahamas Meteorology Department; and Dr. Steven Lack, Training facilitator and Techniques Development Meteorologist , AWC.

Meteorologists at work evaluating and testing new GFA tool, to predict more accurately, weather conditions and better design flight plans.