A lot of factors contribute to how active the Atlantic hurricane season is, and one of them might surprise you.
As we head into the late summer and fall months, hurricanes tend to be a little more top of mind. Considering how much goes into public response to hurricane track and intensity forecasts, it’s extremely important to have the most accurate predictions we can. A great deal of money and man power goes into boarding up, battening down, and evacuating ahead of a serious coastal storm. The more reliable the forecasts become, the more serious the population will take evacuation warnings.
Last year’s hurricane track forecasts proved very reliable, but everyone agreed that we could do better. On Monday, the National Weather Service announced that it has recently more than doubled the computing power available for running weather prediction models. In the meteorology world, that announcement is a huge deal. One of the limitations scientists have faced when developing the models is how much data can be processed. More detailed data and improved algorithms, which are necessary for accurate forecasts, require more processing power.
According to the NWS, the new supercomputers are operating with 213 teraflops (TF) while the older ones were operating at 90. Not being a computer geek, I can only tell you that a teraflop is defined as a unit of measurement equaling 1 trillion floating-point operations per second. It sounds impressive, right?
These two new supercomputers are called “Gyre” and “Tide,” and the upgrades are the first in a long time. It’s all part of the NOAA program that is called “The Weather Ready Nation Initiative.” By the summer of 2015, the goal is for the computers that run the weather prediction models to be running at 1,950 TF.
Remember that the models are only as good as the initial data and the algorithms used in them, but more processing power means more room for improvement of those initial pieces and better output and forecasts.
Reader Question: Why does it always seem breezy at the beach?
When you study patterns in the weather, one of the more pleasant ones to think about is the sea breeze circulation, also called the sea/land breeze circulation. I’ll try to explain it in simple terms.
Reader Question: Why is it usually cooler at the beach in July and warmer in January?
Reader Question: What is it that causes the dew point to fluctuate? (in 4th grade terms please)
I am asked pretty often about smart phone apps relating to anything from radar to temperatures to forecasts, but I was recently asked if I knew of any apps that were good for finding the sunrise and sunset times and placement on the horizon in relation to the user. I did a little searching and here are a few that look pretty useful.
Tropical Storm Chantal is east of the Windward Islands and currently forecast to enter the eastern Caribbean Sea late on Tuesday. By Friday, she’ll be turning north, but is expected to weaken to a tropical depression. What are the chances a July storm will hit our North Carolina Beaches?
We are well into the summer months now, and I’m hearing mixed reviews from friends and strangers about the weather. Some think it should be hotter than it is, and other wish it was drier. So, compared to climatic averages, where do we really stand?
I’m asked this question pretty often, even more so since the F5 tornadoes in Oklahoma last month. Here's what you want to look for in a phone app...
Tuesday night's tornado in Franklin County took a lot of people by surprise. Yet, the time from the moment it formed to the time the warning was issued was pretty impressive.