Weather: Putting It All Together

Putting It All Together

Now this is a chore! The National Weather Service has a high-speed computer work station that tries to do just that. Here comes another acronym: It's called AWIPS—Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System. Over a hundred locations across the United States have an AWIPS. It collects NEXRAD Doppler information, GOES data, ASOS, as well as other data sources such as river gauges. Forecast guidance information from computer models is also fed into the system, so that at the tip of a forecaster's fingers, a complete picture of the atmosphere can be seen. The next figure shows the location of AWIPS installations across the United States.

So Are the Forecasts Going to Be Better?

We've come a long way from just having a thermometer and barometer. If the volume of data is directly proportional to forecast accuracy, then forecasts should seldom go astray. There's no doubt we're observing the weather better and in more detail than ever before. These detailed observations are helping detect storms with greater precision. All this should help the accuracy of the forecast—but stay tuned for more. The jury is still out. The leap from observation to forecast is still precarious.

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Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Weather © 2002 by Mel Goldstein, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.