GOES Mesoscale Convective System Index
The GOES Mesoscale Convective System (MCS) Index is an experimental tool developed by Dr. Israel Jirak (former PhD student in the Department of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University) and RAMMB. The index points to areas that are favorable for supporting MCS development and sustenance over the following 6 hours given that convective initiation has occurred or is expected to occur.
Input data for the GOES MCS Index include the GOES Sounder Lifted Index Derived Product (obtained from CIMSS), and three variables from the North American Mesoscale (NAM) model: 0-3 km shear, 700mb temperature advection, and lifted index (for forecast times and for cloudy regions at the analysis time). Additional details on how the index is computed can be found here: http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/projects/mcsindex/mcsindexdescription.htm
A real-time web page has been developed which displays the index across the central U.S. The analysis image is updated hourly with every new GOES Sounder scan, and the 6-hourly forecasts are updated every 6 hours with new NAM model runs. The real-time page can be found here: http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/projects/mcsindex/mcsindex.asp
A manuscript descibing the predictability of MCS's by I. Jirak and W. Cotton recently appeared in Weather and Forecasting, and can be obtained here: http://rammb.cira.colostate.edu/projects/mcsindex/documents/MCS_predictability_WF.pdf