Better Tools Improving Weather and Impact Prediction

November 2nd, 2012 | by Michael Keller

Computer modeling is increasingly offering more accurate predictions on the development and path of weather systems, and the havoc they are likely to leave in their wake. Superstorm Sandy was just the latest to show how advancing technology, supercomputing and increasing know-how are pushing up the reliability of forecasts.
“Have we ever had a prediction of this detail this far out?” asked Kyle Griffin, a storm researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in a university statement. UW-Madison is a partner with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in its Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies. “It wasn’t that long ago that the error range for these predictions was on the order of three days. In this case, there are models that are going to be off by maybe an hour.”

By all accounts, the prediction for Sandy’s unusual path was spot on, calling the location of landfall within 71 miles while the storm was still five days out. UW-Madison researchers say that 20 computer models were predicting Sandy would make landfall in New Jersey after it had only just passed over the Bahamas.

“We’ll look at which models got this right, and of the ones that get it right we’ll look at what is different about the physics on those models,” says Derrick Herndon, a UW-Madison senior researcher.

Read more: txchnologist — Better Tools Improving Weather and Impact Prediction.

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