Low-visibility forecasts for different flight planning horizons using tree-based boosting models
Low-visibility conditions enforce special procedures that reduce the operational flight capacity at airports. Accurate and probabilistic forecasts of these capacity-reducing low-visibility procedure (lvp) states help the air traffic management in optimizing flight planning and regulation. In this paper, we investigate nowcasts, medium-range forecasts, and the predictability limit of the lvp states at Vienna International Airport. The forecasts are generated with boosting trees, which outperform persistence, climatology, direct output of numerical weather prediction (NWP) models, and ordered logistic regression. The boosting trees consist of an ensemble of decision trees grown iteratively on information from previous trees. Their input is observations at Vienna International Airport as well as output of a high resolution and an ensemble NWP model. Observations have the highest impact for nowcasts up to a lead time of +2 h. Afterwards, a mix of observations and NWP forecast variables generates the most accurate predictions. With lead times longer than +7 h, NWP output dominates until the predictability limit is reached at +12 d. For lead times longer than +2 d, output from an ensemble of NWP models improves the forecast more than using a deterministic but finer resolved NWP model. The most important predictors for lead times up to +18 h are observations of lvp and dew point depression as well as NWP dew point depression. At longer lead times, dew point depression and evaporation from the NWP models are most important.