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More Processing Power Boosts Forecast Model Accuracy

July 29, 2013

By WeatherBug Meteorologist, Chad Merrill

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Meteorologists now have faster computers with increased data processing power to better predict and track tropical systems. The upgraded supercomputers are expected to get yet another boost next year to track weather systems across the globe with more accuracy.

The supercomputer and its back-up are operating with 213 teraflops (TF) of memory, a big step up from the 90 teraflops of processing power prior to this summer. The benefit of the faster processing speed-- the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration`s (NOAA) National Weather Service has begun running an enhanced Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model.

Already, improved physics and storm-tracking algorithms have shown a 15% improvement in track and intensity forecasts compared to last year`s model version. Not to be outdone, the model is able to process Doppler radar data attached to NOAA`s P3 hurricane hunter aircraft. This will allow fine tuning of tropical systems` intensity and track.

Additional funding requested in next year`s budget coupled with money provided to NOAA from Congress this spring from the Hurricane Sandy emergency supplemental appropriations bill would increase computing power nine times more. Having 1,950 teraflops of data will give NOAA the ability to enhance the Global Forecast System, the current forecast model analyzed by meteorologists to provide forecasts on a daily basis for cities across the globe.

The investment in supercomputing power for more accurate forecasts is the next step in NOAA`s effort to build a Weather-Ready Nation. This initiative was brought into action in 2011. It has resulted in product improvements, more services to the public and helped the way information is provided to the public.

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Story Image: The Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting Model (HWRF) shows Tropical Storm Flossie precipitation output for the Hawaiian Islands on July 29, 2013. (Credit: NOAA)

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