Major upgrades coming to U.S. forecasters

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has announced some major improvements are coming to the United States Supercomputers that predict global weather.  A tenfold increase in the capacity of the Global Forecasting System (GFS) supercomputer is in the works for late 2015 which will provide more timely, accurate, reliable, and detailed forecasts.  The nearly 45 million dollar upgrade will increase computing capacity to 5 petaflops. For those that don't speak computer, that's way more than a trillion times more calculations per second than your desktop computer at home.

This is exciting news but is long overdue as it has been nearly 20 years since a significant upgrade has been made.  Because of this, at least one other global forecast model (which is run by the UK called "The European Centre for Medium-range Weather Forecasting") has predicted U.S. weather with better accuracy, something that became a big talker when this UK model had a better understanding of Hurricane Sandy and where it would ultimately end up, well ahead of the American computer models.  This new upgrade is a direct result of that blunder.

Regardless of why it is happening, this will give all forecasters a more accurate picture of the atmosphere with higher resolution deeper into the future allowing us to predict the next 7 days with even more accuracy… well hopefully.  While technological advancements are making it easier to predict the weather, Mother Nature is always capable of throwing a curve ball, and does so quite often.  Money will need to continue to pour into NOAA through the foreseeable future to continue advancing the science. Even with this new upgrade, the US continues to trail its UK counterparts who have invested 4 times more money into the science of weather over the last decade.


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