National Weather prediction models get major upgrade

Provides Forecasters with longer range models for Hurricanes
National Weather prediction models get major upgrade
Published: Mar. 29, 2021 at 8:10 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Hurricane Season is approaching, and ahead of the season, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration upgraded its Global Forecasting System called GFS.

The upgrades to the GFS model mean the forecast will better track and predict snowfall, rain, and tropical weather events.

WITN Meteorologist Jim Howard says the upgrade to NOAA’s system is exciting. “It’s been ongoing this work for a while in making this major upgrade, and hopefully, we’ll have a very positive reflection of that during the hurricane season in seeing those waves earlier and making earlier forecast predictions,” said Howard.

For Scientists like Dr. Rick Luettich from UNC’s Institute of Marine Sciences, the better data the system has access to, the more accurate his models and others can be. Luettich uses NOAA’s GFS model to produce widely used storm surge models during hurricanes.

“It’s got more detail in it, and higher resolution, more layers, so that means they chopped the problem up into smaller pieces, so hopefully that will give us more accurate results,” explained Dr. Luettich.

In terms of hurricanes, NOAA says the system enhancements will allow them to see tropical activity as early as 16 days in advance than the ten days that it provides now.

“What I see as being the real advantage is that continued progress, continued improvement in these global models. This GFS in particular, which is the U.S’s flagship global model, is the ability to better understand when storms or tropical systems are likely to get initiated,” Dr. Luettich said.

The more advanced system and data should also improve storm tracking capabilities, which Howard says means areas in the storm’s path can be more prepared earlier.

“It gives you a lot of lead time to get resources together, to make sure you are ready, and it’s better to be prepared, and maybe they don’t materialize and don’t become that bad. But have that extra time to get ready and take some of the pressure off of the local and state government and all of the different bodies involved in prepping for a storm,” said Howard.

NOAA says more upgrades for their geostationary and polar-orbiting satellites, which also collects data from storms, are also in the works.

You can find more information on the full capabilities of the newly updated GFS model on NOAA’s website,

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