National Weather Service 10-year restructuring increases forecast accuracy
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The implemented technologies were:
• the Automated Surface Observing System, which replaced manual weather observations;
• the Next Generation Weather Radar, a network of advanced Doppler radars that contributed to increased lead times in predicting severe weather events, such as tornadoes, hail, and flash floods;
• a new series of satellites that provided improved, all-weather data for longer-term forecasting;
• advanced computer systems that increased the computing power to support National Centers tenfold; and
• the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System, which allowed communication among forecast offices and distribution of centrally collected data as well as offered field forecasters access to the data provided by the other new technologies.
According to the assessment, the NWS modernization significantly increased the amount of data and information available to field forecasters, academia, the private sector, and the general public. It also improved outreach and coordination with state and local government, emergency management, and communities; provided for more uniform radar coverage and surface observations across the U.S.; and dramatically enhanced forecast and warning products.
The probability of detection and forecast lead times for tornadoes and flash floods grew after the modernization, but the ratios for false alarms have remained high. In addition, the performance of hurricane track forecasts have seen gains, whereas hurricane intensity forecasts have not.
The study, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce, was conducted by The National Research Council of The National Academies, which include the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council.
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