AWIPS Fundamentals




Welcome to the AWIPS Convective Warning Fundamentals VLab page!

This reference provides an introduction to the fundamental AWIPS functionality supporting convective warning analysis and decision making. It is composed of a series of web pages with embedded job sheets used to practice fundamental skills on a live AWIPS or WES-2 Bridge. This training mostly focuses on CAVE basics and the D2D perspective (not GFE, AvnFPS, etc.), and it is followed by separate WES-2 Bridge exercise videos that step through using the tools with an archived dataset. Following review of the VLab web pages, practicing with the embedded job sheets, and practicing along with the WES-2 Bridge exercise videos, proficiency is assessed with a locally proctored AWIPS proficiency exam. Most of the content in this reference does not change from build to build, but some of the differences between the live AWIPS builds and the 17.3.1 AWIPS in WES-2 Bridge are listed below.

Key Build Differences from 17.3.1 (note: the build changes VLab page identifies significant build changes and has references to the short informational overviews available in from the CLC).


  • supports Mid-Volume Rescan of Low Level Elevations (MRLE) display
  • The "Dam Break Threat Area" button in WarnGen has been changed to "Preset Threat Area" to be more appropriately labeled for using in airport weather warnings, dam break flash flood warnings, and burn scar flash flood warnings.
  • National Blend of Models version 3.1 supports
    • CONUS - echo tops, simulated max reflectivity,and VIL
    • OCONUS - ceiling, visibility, lowest cloud base, QPF, and PPI
  • the Ensemble Tool Matrix Viewer works has been fixed and no longer locks up CAVE
  • the PGEN Palette menu has been added to the Tools menu and allows sharing of overlays
  • the Dataset Discovery Browser has implemented friendly naming conventions for some parameters and models
  • the Climate perspective was implemented to replace the previous climate software, but full deployment will wait until the next build when all the bugs are fixed
  • there is a new search option in the Localization perspective


  • Radar
    • Dual-pol precip bias has N/A label
    • Tear off menus are allowed for both Z and V for the same dedicated radar
    • New VCP 112 improves range folding by combining back to back SZ-2 velocity scans at 0.5, 0.9, 1.3 degrees
    • Reflectivity cross section can now be loaded from the volume browser without having to worry about mapping error
    • Saved NSHARP display can now be loaded without errors
    • Time-Match basis is preserved in bundles
  • GOES-R
    • Improved sampling to include channel name and gamma setting
    • submenu re-organization
  • WarnGen
    • 0.75" hail changed from dime to penny sized in the template of the Significant Weather Advisory and Special Weather Statement
  • Unrestricted Mesoscale Analysis (URMA)
    • Hourly RFC Stage IV precipitation accumulation products have been added 
  • Misc
    • Significant Tornado Parameter (STP) loads from Volume Browser
    • Display regional flood advisories without issues
    • Time of Arrival Tool has no more "Unrealistic Point of Arrival" label for point and circular front


  • Climate perspective now operational
  • Radar
    • MRLE tab in VCP Change Request
    • MSL/AGL height cursor sampling of negative angles
    • Power Removed Control product replaces Clutter Filter Control
    • AMDA/Microburst product available on SAILS/MRLE scans
    • Alphanumeric supplemental data incorporated in the DSA product
  • IBW Flash Flood templates in WarnGen will be used in practice mode first before going operational
  • NSHARP auto updates and can loop upon loading when the loop icon is pressed
  • "Load as Image and Combine" feature in the product legend right click menu combines 2 image plots
  • MRMS Version 12 experimental feed menus 
    • baseline version 12 feed not expected until later in 2020, but offices can ingest experimental feed from LDAD before then
    • new baseline MRMS menus for QPE Multi Sensor Pass 1, Pass 2, and 60min lightning, and OCONUS subset
  • Model-derived wind chill units changed to Fahrenheit
  • Submenus maintain check boxes when torn off
  • FFMP basin trends plot forward in time for 1hr, 3hr, 6hr, 12hr, and 24hr plots
  • NUCAPS data can be plotted in plan view

19.3.1 (Note: Hazard Services is currently a standalone course and is not part of AWIPS Fundamentals yet)

  • Hazard Services hydro watch/warning/advisory generation is available in practice mode and then operational mode after major configuration and training
  • Distance Scale Tool: can change units to nautical miles and kilometers by right clicking on the legend text and selecting "units"
  • "Time match basis" legend option available for surface obs
  • NSHARP hail and tornado additions
    • Large Hail parameter - new addition to the parameter section of the NSHARP window to aid in hail forecasting
    • Vrot (button at bottom of NSHARP window)- estimate tornado intensity based on the radar derived rotational velocity value
    • HAIL (button at bottom of NSHARP window) - estimate hail size based on the Hail model and the Sounding Analog Retrieval System (SARS)
    • CondTOR (button at bottom of NSHARP window) - estimate tornado intensity based on the significant tornado parameter (STP) value
  • PGEN Static Overlay
    • Tool that allows you to overlay a PGEN graphic in CAVE and save it in a bundle
  • 19.3.3-15 and 19.3.4 have numerous DR fixes for Hazard Services and a few other applications)


How to Use this Guide

This VLab reader for AWIPS Fundamentals has several features which allow you to navigate through and customize your viewing experience.

To view a lesson, click on the parent topic in the menu to the left, and then on one of the lessons in the expanded menu below it.  This will reload the page with your selected lesson loaded in the main reading area.

Basic navigation for the AWIPS Fundamentals VLab page includes a menu with topics and lessons, and a reader area for the selected lesson

You can also use the buttons in the bottom toolbar to move to the previous or next lesson in order.  A table of contents button in the middle of this lower toolbar displays an expanded view of the entire AWIPS Fundamentals reference, which you can use to click on any lesson to go directly to it.

The lower toolbar for AWIPS Fundamentals VLab viewer assist in navigating to the previous or next lessons, or with viewing the entire table of contents

There are several options for customizing the reader appearance, all located on the top toolbar.  Click on "Close Menu" to hide the left-hand navigation menu, and, if you need to bring it back, click on "Menu" in the same location on the upper toolbar to show it again.  If you'd like even more viewing space, use the "Fullscreen" button to the right of the upper toolbar (you can also maximize your browser window for even more space).  Finally, some viewers may prefer a dark background with light text, and this is what the "Night" option in the upper toolbar is for, with a corresponding "Day" button for turning off the night view once it's been enabled.

The upper toolbar of the AWIPS Fundamentals VLab viewer includes features for customizing the reader appearance

In some lessons, you will find one or more jobsheets.  These are to practice important AWIPS skills.  Click on the "Jobsheet" button to launch a popup window with these tasks.  When done, close the jobsheet with the upper-right "x" button.

Blue ribbons are jobsheets related to the current lesson. Click "View Jobsheet" to launch a popup viewer for those tasks, and use the "x" button to close this popup when complete.