NOAA: Major upgrade to weather forecast model coming soon

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) – A new and improved weather forecast model is coming to a computer screen near you. In 2015, NOAA announced it would spend $40 million over the next several years to upgrade one of its weather models, the Global Forecast System, or GFS, weather model.

Scott Curtis, an atmospheric science professor in ECU’s Department of Geography, Environment, and Planning, explains why this is so important. “With the complexities of weather and the need for longer range accurate forecasts, we really have to rely on forecast models, which really are just intense computer models that model the physics of the atmosphere,” said Curtis.
After testing several different paths, NOAA announced in late July they would base the new model on the FV3 core model. The goals: improve day to day forecast accuracy beyond 8 to 10 days and improve forecasts for extreme events like hurricanes.

“It’s important to understand and to be detailed in terms of our forecast and that’s why we need the computer models because they can ingest all of that information and they can tell what can happen,” said Curtis.
According to NOAA, a recent upgrade to 2 supercomputers has increased their computing capacity nearly tenfold. The boost in power along with a souped up core will allow for higher resolution forecasting in the future.

The GFS has received criticism in recent years for busted forecasts especially during disasters like Hurricane Sandy in 2012. NOAA hopes the new and improved GFS will make that a thing of the past.

It’s expected to go live in about 3 years.

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