Weather models: European vs. American - New York News

Weather models: European vs. American

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In the last few years, weather eyes in the United States have been paying close attention to our counterparts across the pond. Computer generated weather models are what meteorologists use to forecast future events.

Recently, a lot of attention has been drawn to the European forecasting model because it has been more accurate than the American model in projecting the path of storms in the United States.

In fact, the European model predicted Hurricane Sandy's turn into our area a week in advance. The American model, also known as the GFS, didn't pick up on this until days before Sandy's landfall.

A number of factors result in this discrepancy, with the largest being computer power. The European model has 10 times the computing ability of our National Weather Service. The extra power allows the European model to look at weather systems on a smaller grid, or more microscopically. It has higher resolution and better satellite data. As a result, the Europeans run 100 models a day, while the U.S. runs 84. More data means more accuracy.

According to our government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, $25 million has been spent on two new supercomputers. Upgrades for these computers have been set for 2015.

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