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US Weather Model Gets Better at Forecasting Extreme Events

Nikola Gemeš

April 13, 2021
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The National Weather Service has upgraded its lagging forecast model to better predict extreme weather events such as blizzards, downpours, and hurricanes.

The weather service is trying to update its Global Forecast System and catch up with a European weather model, which many experts consider superior.

Among other improvements, U.S. News reports that the new model includes much higher layers of atmosphere and increased factoring of ocean waves.

“Forecasters say this new model does not predict more rain and snow than actually arrives, which its predecessor had a tendency to do. The new model was significantly better at forecasting the massive Colorado snowstorm earlier this month, getting the storm arrival time and snow amounts far more accurately than the older version, said Vijay Tallapragada, chief of modeling at the agency’s Environmental Modeling Center.”

Tests show that the new upgrade forecasts heavy rains and snowfall 15% better and has 10% better chances in pinpointing hurricane and tropical storm formations five to seven days in advance.

An important improvement is that the new model scans the atmosphere up to 50 miles high, and has higher resolution at different levels.

Bernadette Woods Placky, chief meteorologist at Climate Central’s Climate Matters program, says that extreme weather events are becoming stronger and more frequent due to climate change.

Increased accuracy in weather forecasting and warning time will give people more time to prepare.


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