Monday, January 26, 2015

East Coast snowstorm more accurately predicted by European weather model — again

The Washington Post's weather editor warned months ago that U.S. investments in computer technology necessary to forecasting are not keeping pace with European efforts:
     ...since 2013, the NWS has doubled its operational computing capacity, substantially upgraded its HWRF hurricane model (leading to immediate improvements in forecasting), and put into operation a high resolution model for forecasting thunderstorms (known as the HRRR).
     Some additional upgrades are right around the corner. In December, the Global Forecast System (GFS) model will be upgraded to a higher resolution and, in January 2015, NWS is slated to triple its current overall computing capacity.
     ...There is no question that the NWS is making a legitimate effort to advance its supercomputing and forecasting abilities, and that progress is being made. But two important realities emerge from the current state of affairs: 1) Bureaucratic and policy obstacles have slowed the NWS effort to obtain more supercomputing power 2) Europe is — as of this moment — investing vastly more resources in supercomputing technology (per my post last week: Congress authorized approximately $24 million in forecasting equipment and supercomputer infrastructure following Superstorm Sandy, whereas the NWS’ European counterparts the ECMWF and UKMet Office, recently invested $64 million and $128 million, respectively).

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