Advances in forecast models could lead to better warning time ahead of storms

Posted at 1:47 PM, Feb 21, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-21 14:47:03-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Year after year, the number of severe weather events across the country continues to increase, and with the increasing threat of severe weather, the need for more detailed forecast modeling grows.

While many living in the mid south rely on the Storm 5 Weather Team for their forecast, there is one organization that is the backbone of all forecasting — responsible for data requirements for forecast models, data processing, and distribution of these weather models: The National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP).

Under NCEP you’ll find these nine organizations, NCEP Central Operations, Environmental Modeling Center, Weather Prediction Center, Ocean Prediction Center, Climate Prediction Center, Aviation Weather Center, Storm Prediction Center, National Hurricane Center, and Space Weather Prediction Center.

Recently, NewsChannel 5 Meteorologist Henry Rothenberg had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Mike Farrar, Director of NCEP, and a Nashville native, about advancements coming to various forecast models and improvements it could mean for forecasting your weather.

One of those projects happening to advance forecast capabilities is, “Warn-On-Forecast,” a project that aims to increase lead time for tornadoes, severe thunderstorms, and even flash flood warnings.

“Right now, your tornado warnings come when we see them on radar, or from a ground observer,” Farrar said.

Farrar’s hope with the latest advancements in forecast modeling that we could add an additional 10 to 15 minutes in warning lead time based on what we are seeing on high-resolution forecast models.

“It’s not going to really tell you it’s going to hit this street. But we may have enough confidence to give you extra lead time based on a short-term model,” said Farrar.

While forecast models and advancement in models are a great asset, it’s still about the people bringing you the forecast. When asked about the various weather service offices across the country, and those offices working with local meteorologists, such as the Storm 5 Weather Team, Farrar feels there is something to be said about having that local expertise in forecasting the weather from a person that sees a regions weather pattern day-after-day versus a forecast model that, despite advancements, may not always be perfect.

Farrar also pointed out the value in weather apps that are updated by local forecasters, such as NewsChannel 5’s Storm Shield App, updated by the Storm 5 Weather Team, as automated weather apps relying only on computer models may struggle as models aren’t perfect, and don’t perform well equally everywhere.

To learn more about forecast model advancements, and “Warn-On-Forecast,” click here