Progress in the Automation of Public Weather Forecasts

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  • 1 Techniques Development Laboratory, National Weather Service, NOAA, Silver Spring, Md. 20910
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Abstract

Complete automation of public weather forecasts will exist when forecasts are prepared entirely by computer and are disseminated to the final user through associated communications facilities. Preparation of such a forecast must start with observations of various kinds and proceed through the collection and analysis of those observations, the running of numerical and statistical models to arrive at digital forecasts of the pertinent weather elements, and the preparation of the forecast in its final format.

Observing the atmospheric variables used as input to forecasting models is far from automated, although much has been done in this area in recent years. The assembly and analysis of the observations have been largely automated at national centers, although work must continue on incorporating new types of observations and making more efficient use of those already available. Numerical models are being run which do a good job of predicting the future state of certain atmospheric variables. Statistical models are in operation which translate these “atmospheric” forecasts into “weather” forecasts. Automatic preparation of the forecasts in final form has received much less attention than have other aspects of automation, but experimental computer programs do exist for this purpose. And finery, the AFOS (Automation of Field Operations and Services) program of the National Weather Service provides a feasible means for monitoring and communicating the forecasts, if not to the final user—the public—at least to the media which do make the forecasts available to the final user.

This paper describes the automated public weather forecasts issued by the National Weather Service—such as probability, amount and type of precipitation, maximum and minimum temperature, clouds, winds and severe weather—and the progress made on formatting these into a worded message.

Abstract

Complete automation of public weather forecasts will exist when forecasts are prepared entirely by computer and are disseminated to the final user through associated communications facilities. Preparation of such a forecast must start with observations of various kinds and proceed through the collection and analysis of those observations, the running of numerical and statistical models to arrive at digital forecasts of the pertinent weather elements, and the preparation of the forecast in its final format.

Observing the atmospheric variables used as input to forecasting models is far from automated, although much has been done in this area in recent years. The assembly and analysis of the observations have been largely automated at national centers, although work must continue on incorporating new types of observations and making more efficient use of those already available. Numerical models are being run which do a good job of predicting the future state of certain atmospheric variables. Statistical models are in operation which translate these “atmospheric” forecasts into “weather” forecasts. Automatic preparation of the forecasts in final form has received much less attention than have other aspects of automation, but experimental computer programs do exist for this purpose. And finery, the AFOS (Automation of Field Operations and Services) program of the National Weather Service provides a feasible means for monitoring and communicating the forecasts, if not to the final user—the public—at least to the media which do make the forecasts available to the final user.

This paper describes the automated public weather forecasts issued by the National Weather Service—such as probability, amount and type of precipitation, maximum and minimum temperature, clouds, winds and severe weather—and the progress made on formatting these into a worded message.

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