NOAA announces significant computer upgrade

Each and every day, meteorologists use computer forecast models to predict incoming weather. These tools provide insight on weather patterns, temperature trends, and what’s going on thousands of feet up in the atmosphere. The computer models use data to place a grid pattern across the globe – the higher the resolution, the tighter the grid. The grids on some forecast models will be getting tighter following an announcement from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, this week. NOAA announced that the capacity of the agency’s supercomputers would increase by about tenfold.

It’s part of a nearly 45 million dollar investment that will help take forecasting to the next level. Greater computing power will allow for quadrillions of calculations per second. And all that will feed into some of the computer models we use. Models like the GFS and others will benefit from a resolution upgrade. That will give meteorologists the ability to see smaller-scale weather features – like clipper systems and lake-effect snow bands. This will ultimately help meteorologists make more timely and accurate forecasts for you.

According to Mark Frazier, Meteorologist-In-Charge at the National Weather Service Northern Indiana Office:

This is a significant step forward. Not only for Northern Indiana, but the entire National Weather Service and the weather enterprise…we’ll see some immediate benefits with this upgrade in technologies, as far as computing power, as early as this month – in January. It should be finalized as we get toward October where it’s fully operational.

So, in some ways, it’s almost like an upgrade from SD to HD-TV…with some of our forecast models.

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