Forecasters monitored the weather throughout the program, both for short and long term planning. On a typical flight day, at about midnight before the flight, the on-duty forecaster began an in-depth analysis of current and forecasted weather for the day. Partnering universities nearby often released weather balloons to further analyze the cloud structure. Then in the early morning hours, scientists and Convair-580 crew members began work on the flight planning. The research team used the forecasts to plan the timeline, flight route, and altitudes needed for the flight crew to capture the in-cloud and surrounding ice-prone conditions. The airplane was equipped with special instruments to measure the range of particle sizes and concentration of both droplets and ice crystals throughout the takeoff, en route, and landing phases of the flights. Onboard cloud and precipitation radars allowed the scientists to characterize clouds above, below, and ahead of the aircraft. Because the size and concentration of liquid drops and particles influence the impact of icing on an aircraft, measuring these fields was key. The flight program targeted a broad spectrum of icing conditions.
Ben Bernstein, ICICLE science lead and primary operations director, helped identify and forecast icing conditions and guide the aircraft into and out of these conditions. “This flight program targeted a broad spectrum of icing conditions, including supercooled large drops, and focused on challenging transitions in icing that are critical to providing essential icing information to the flying public,” Bernstein explained.