New supercomputer, called "Tide", will greatly improve forecasts

1:00 PM, Aug 3, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- The National Weather Service's forecast model, called the Global Forecast System, is undergoing a major renovation. 

This new supercomputer, nicknamed "Tide", is performing 213 trillion calculations every second, using information from satellites, buoys, and other sites. It is being funded in part by the Hurricane Sandy emergency supplemental appropriations bill.

Chris Vaccaro, the spokesman for the NWS, says, "With this new model and the data assimilation in that model, we can better project intensity forecasts of future storms."

Money had already been allocated for this project, but Sandy prompted Congress to take action and provide even more funding to get our domestic weather models up to speed with the European model, which performed better on Sandy's track. 

The first upgrades were made to the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting Model, with fantastic results. Using data from Sandy, the model correctly predicted the storm's dramatic left turn.

This is just the first in a series of updates that, by the summer of 2015, will allow the GFS model to perform almost 2,000 trillion calculations per second.

This unfathomable computing power will make it easier to predict the next big storm, and increase accuracy in the extended forecast. 

Chris Vaccaro adds, "Day to day weather forecasting will improve because of this supercomputer, but also especially in high impact situations that people need multiple days in advance to prepare."

He gave an example- the derecho of June 2012- an event that the improved forecast model could have predicted, giving residents in the DC Metro area time to get ready for the impending storm.

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