Major upgrade to U.S. forecast model will help enhance weather forecasts

Local News

Meteorologists all across the world use computer models to help predict the weather. Now, the main forecast model in the U.S. has received a major upgrade.

The Global Forecast System or GFS is run four times a day producing simulations of the atmosphere at various levels and many variables to help aid meteorologists in producing a forecast. 

“These computer models or numerical weather prediction models are simulations on how the atmosphere flows. It helps us predict temperatures, precipitation, thunderstorms, snow amounts, and it’s the basis of our weather forecasts.” -Jeff Last NWS Green Bay Warning Coordination Meteorologist

There are a wide range of weather forecast models that are run by multiple agencies across the globe. These models use different mathematical equations and microphysics to produce forecast guidance. It is then up to the meteorologist to determine which models have the best handle on the potential state of the atmosphere when making the forecast.

The computer models run in the United States are under the control of the National Center for Environmental Prediction located in Silver Spring, Maryland.

“It wasn’t too long ago maybe 20 or so years ago where our weather prediction models would only give us forecasts out to about 72 hours or so. But, now our models will run out to 15 days and even longer than that and really has helped us provide more accurate forecasts.”

This is the first major upgrade in almost 40 years to the model’s dynamical core, which is a key component that computes wind and air pressure for successful forecast guidance. The new dynamical core is called the Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere (FV3).

“The upgrade to the Global Forecast System or GFS will impact our jet stream forecasts and make them better. That of course controls the weather we feel on the ground such as temperature and precipitation. It will enhance forecasts of hurricane tracks and intensity making those better as well. And just our day to day forecast with the amount of precipitation and snowfall forecast will all be enhanced with this new GFS upgrade.”

This new version of the Global Forecast System will be able to produce forecasts across the entire world out to 16 days. The performance of the supercomputers which run the GFS model was increased by nearly 50 percent and added 60 percent more storage capacity to collect and process weather, water and climate observations.

To view the various U.S. run weather prediction models follow this link NCEP forecast models

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