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WSR-88D VAD wind profile data influenced by bird migration over the southwest United States
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WSR-88D VAD wind profile data influenced by bird migration over the southwest United States
  • Description:
    Since the acceptance of the WSR-880 in Phoenix, Arizona (KIWA), NWSFO Phoenix forecasters have been continually cognizant of an odd pattern of strong low-level winds apparent in the KIWA WSR-88D's Velocity Azimuth Display Wind Profile (VWP) during the hot late spring and summer months. Frequent, and surprisingly strong, derived winds from the southeast to south at speeds up to 40 kts are commonly represented in these profiles during the nighttime and early morning hours. The winds encompass a vertical area stretching from near the surface to around 15,000 ft MSL, begin shortly after sunset, and last several hours. Confusion among the forecasters stemmed from the fact that the southwest U.S. is dominated by light wind flow regimes during the warm season. The wind patterns in the VWP are rarely representative of true environmental conditions in the lower atmosphere or supported synoptically. It has been argued that this is clearly an example of VWP contamination, most likely caused by migrating birds. However, these patterns are not exclusive to the KIWA WSR-880 and can be found at other RDA sites across the southwestern U.S. Operationally, these discrepancies are significant as data from the WSR-880 VWP are often used for briefing and research purposes. In this report, three distinct examples are used to relate migrating bird patterns over the southwest U.S. to contaminated WSR- 880 output via the VWP.

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