I had a great opportunity to get some verification on a NUCAP sounding that passed through shortly after 19z on June 15, 2022. It was the NOAA-20 which just happened to pass over eastern Iowa where the DVN WFO launched a special sounding at 19z on the same day. I’d estimate the locations of the two soundings compared were roughly 50-60 miles apart. The DVN sounding was equidistant from 4 NUCAP soundings and all those soundings had very similar readouts from one another (see Figure 1). One of the disadvantages of the NUCAP soundings is no winds are measured, but there are plenty of other parameters that could be compared from the two soundings. The first thing that I compared were the CAPE values (See Table 1). The other two tables below compare other various parameters.
Some interesting differences between the CAPE values measured. Uncertain why the NUCAP sounding doesn’t suggest any 0-3CAPE values, especially since the much larger surface based CAPE. Another big difference that really stood out was the freezing level heights and the Convective Temperature. Obviously the NUCAP sounding may have overestimated the temperature profile and thus larger CAPE values, but I found it interesting that the freezing level from the NUCAPs sounding was slightly lower. The RH values were fairly similar, particularly the midRH values, but also eyeballing the dew point temperature profile, they are pretty close near the surface.
Overall, I do like the NUCAP soundings availability as it is another tool available for the forecast toolbox. It might be wise (as with all things meteorology) to be careful with totally believing some of the NUCAP sounding readings after seeing this comparison.
Figure 1: Location of the DVN 19z special sounding and the NUCAPS NOAA-20 1921z sounding.
Figure 2: DVN special sounding launched at 19z on Jun 15, 2022.
Figure 3: NUCAP NOAA-20 sounding at 1943z on Jun 15, 2022.