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Air Force Planning on Dropping U.S. Weather Forecast Model for UK System

 The  U.S. Air Force Weather Agency, providing forecasts for Air Force and Army missions, says it plans to replace its U.S.-based forecasting system with a model from the United Kingdom.  The Air Force says the model will improve its forecast capabilities and lower its costs.  The system is also able to provide short and longer range forecasts over large and small areas, something not readily available within the U.S. system.

The change is said to take place next year.  Currently, the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) model is used.  It was developed by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), a federally funded laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.

Meantime, the Navy and the National Weather Service say the Air Force's decision to adopt the U.K. model was made unilaterally, even as the Air Force is party to an agreement with them to coordinate activities.

The National Weather Service had no specific comment on the Air Force's action, but forecasters did say good weather-based decisions rely on a collection of models, not just one.  The NWS did announce in January it's supercomputing power for forecasts would increase by a factor of 10 resulting from a $44.5 million investment with IBM. 

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