A satellite image shows Hurricane Florence lashing the Carolinas in September 2018.
Photo: File photo
Photo: File photo

New weather model promises improved forecasts

More accurate weather forecasts are expected across the country following an upgrade to the U.S. global weather forecast model. The new model, which launched on June 12, will improve predictions for severe weather, winter storms and tropical cyclone tracking and intensity, said officials from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  

It is the first major upgrade in almost 40 years to a key component of the Global Forecasting System (GFS), which calculates wind and air pressure for weather prediction. 

The Global Forecasting System covers the entire globe and is used by operational forecasters who predict weather out to 16 days in the future.

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The new component, known as the Finite-Volume Cubed-Sphere Dynamical Core (or FV3), was originally developed to predict long-range weather patterns. The new FV3-based Global Forecasting System has already demonstrated its ability to predict weather conditions as well as or better than the previous model. 

Hurricane tracking and intensity is one area in which the new system offers improvements. With the latest upgrades, the GFS was able to more accurately forecast the intensity of Hurricane Florence which swept through the Carolinas in September 2018. The new model will also allow for more accurate forecasting of rain events and the amount of rain expected, as well as day-to-day temperature predictions and weather conditions including snow.

Floodwaters from Hurricane Florence surround homes Monday in Dillon, S.C. in 2018. 
Photo: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert

The new system “will have significant impact on our ability to make more accurate 1 to 2 day forecasts, and increase the level of accuracy of our 3 to 7 day forecasts,” said Louis W. Uccellini, Director of NOAA’s National Weather Service in a statement.

The GFS is one of several forecast models used by local meteorologists to help make their forecasts, said Channel 2 meteorologist Brad Nitz. “This won’t bring a dramatic change to forecasting, but better model data will lead to improved forecasts, especially in the timeframe of the 5-day forecast,” Nitz said. “This is just one model, and therefore just one piece of the forecast puzzle.”  

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