NWS To Upgrade Weather Computer

The National Weather Service will update the computer used to predict weather in the United States. Congress approved parts of NOAA’s budget request and will direct $23.7 million (or $25 million before sequestration). The weather computer will be funded under what is called the“Sandy supplemental.”

Last fall the NWS weather prediction data and the European weather prediction data showed two very different forecasts for Hurricane Sandy. The NWS forecast suggested Sandy would not make landfall until late in the game while the European forecast showed Sandy making landfall from early on. What became apparent is that the NWS forecast model can do short term forecasts but fails for long range forecasts. This upgrade will increase the resolution of the NWS forecasts which should improve accuracy. The NWS will upgrade total computing power from 213 teraflops to 2,600 teraflops. The European weather computer is assumed to have a capacity of 2,217 teraflops.

The Washington Post has three great articles on this and why it matters to the U.S.:

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/second-rate-us-numerical-weather-prediction-why-you-should-care/2013/02/26/d63dc4fc-7f80-11e2-a350-49866afab584_blog.html
  2. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/to-be-the-best-in-weather-forecasting-why-europe-is-beating-the-us/2013/03/08/429bfcd0-8806-11e2-9d71-f0feafdd1394_blog.html
  3. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/wp/2013/05/15/game-changing-improvements-in-the-works-for-u-s-weather-prediction/
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