U.S. Weather Computers to Get Huge Boost in Forecast Power

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, just announced the forecasting power of U.S. weather supercomputers will leap tenfold this year thanks to a $45 million upgrade, making it a competitive rival with the European system.

You may remember the European model correctly forecasted the path of Hurricane Sandy in 2012 while the top U.S. model, the Global Forecast System (GFS) had it staying out to sea. 

These computer models take data from satellites, weather balloons, and other observations and plug them into atmospheric physics equations in supercomputers to make weather forecasts.  U.S. computers, after the upgrade, will go from handling 426 trillion operations a second to 5,000 trillion calculations in the fall.

Cray will be the subcontractor for IBM to support the upgrade.  The estimated cost will be $44.5 million.  In the end, the hope is the new changes will mean greater accuracy with each and every forecast. 

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