BASIC Thermal Forecast Parameters
Dr. John W. (Jack) Glendening, Meteorologist 

This is a simple guide to the BLIPMAP parameters I consider to be most important for basic forecasting of thermal soaring conditions.  Parameter descriptions are not provided here but are available on the Parameter Description webpage and each parameter mentioned below has a link to its description on that page.  Additional details and caveats are also given there.  A new user might also be interested in my personal forecasting methodology, though it is somewhat idiosyncratic to my local conditions and my glider type. 

NB:  The atmospheric Boundary Layer (BL) is the vertical region above the surface within which air has been mixed by thermal or wind shear eddies, i.e. the region where glider pilots normally fly.  BLIPMAP forecasts primarily analyze conditions within the BL, though some non-BL parameters are also forecast. 

Dry Thermal Parameters:

      For forecasting dry thermal strength:  Thermal Updraft Velocity  (W*)  (Note that glider sink rate must be subtracted to get vario reading)

      To determine if thermals might be torn apart by strong wind shear:  Buoyancy/Shear Ratio 

      For forecasting maximum soaring height unhindered by a cloudbase:  Height of Critcal Undraft Strength  (Hcrit)  (Higher heights can be reached when small-scale terrain not resolved by the model exists with maximum elevations significantly higher than the model-resolved terrain)

Cloud Parameters - if clouds may exist:

      For forecasting locations of isolated puffy cumulus:  Cu Potential>0 
      For forecasting cloudbase of isolated puffy cumulus:  Cu Cloudbase 

      For forecasting locations of OvercastDevelopment (spreadout) clouds:  OD Potential 
      For forecasting cloudbase of OvercastDevelopment (spreadout) clouds:  OD Cloudbase 

The above are the basic parameters.  But under certain conditions other parameters should also be considered:

      For estimating the uncertainty/variability in the predicted maximum dry soaring height:  Thermal Height Uncertainty 

      If thunderstorm formation might be important:  CAPE 

Parameters not mentioned above, of which there are many, including wind speed and direction, are intended primarily for more weather-wise users who wish more information than provided by the the basic parameters.