The Interactive Forecast Preparation System (IFPS), is a software suite that the National Weather Service (NWS) began using operationally in 2002. In the past, weather information had been disseminated from the NWS primarily through text based products and services. IFPS provides not only for preparation of familiar text based products, but also creates in digital (i.e. numerical) form a database from which a wide range of graphical and digital forecast products can be generated. The real advantage of IFPS then is in the power of the digital database to provide a greater amount of forecast and weather information in more useful forms.
NWS meteorologist no longer need to manually type long text-based forecast products for specific user communities. Instead...forecasters are able to first import digital computer model and sensible weather data into a Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE). (Pictured above) Then, using advanced tools and techniques within the GFE, the forecaster interactively manipulates the digital data for each forecast element or grid. There a multitude of forecast elements...such as
Each point on a grid represents a separate place and time in the forecast period. Using the GFE, meteorologists assign a value to every grid point for each different weather element, and for each time in the forecast period. Each forecast point has a resolution of 5 km, and will soon be upgraded to a higher resolution of 2.5 km.
So with IFPS/GFE, forecasters use an interactive process to prepare their forecasts, storing meteorological fields in a common digital database. The database then becomes part of the National Digital Forecast Database (NDFD) (pictured below) which serves as the foundation for countless products and services. Infact...the digital forecast database itself is offered as a NWS product. This advantage to NWS customers and partners is extensive. The digital database increases detail in both time and space, provides a greater amount of forecast information, and has the flexibility from which to create a wide range of customized text, graphical and image products.