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Richard J. Reed
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Richard J. Reed

The progress made in weather prediction since national weather services began issuing forecasts is traced and assessed. Specific contributions of J. Bjerknes to this program are pointed out. Lessons learned from the historical record concerning factors and conditions responsible for the important advances are considered, and a limited evaluation is then made of the increase in forecast skill that resulted from these advances. Finally, some comments are offered on the future prospects of weather prediction.

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Richard J. Reed

The atmospheric sciences, no less than other fields of scientific endeavor, are experiencing growing demands and budgetary pressures for more direct concern with the problems of society. At the same time, the field has advanced to the stage where the meteorologist himself senses the need for more massive efforts, if progress is to be made with many of the major scientific problems. Thus the era ahead promises to be one in which increased emphasis is given to large problems of social and economic consequence such as weather prediction, weather and climate modification, and air pollution. The attacks on these large, complex problems will necessarily be multidisciplinary and will require new organizational alignments within government and educational institutions and new patterns of cooperation between public and private sectors. They will also necessitate a vast growth in size and sophistication of measuring and data handling systems.

The Global Atmospheric Research Program is discussed as a concrete example of a large, long-term program of the type foreseen. The likely effect of this and similar large programs on research and education in the universities is examined.

The trend towards greater emphasis on “big science” threatens to diminish the role of the individual in the scientific quest. In forging new modes of operation, it is important to avoid organizational structures which will stifle individual responsibility and initiative.

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Richard J. Reed
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Richard J. Reed
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Richard J. Reed
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Richard J. Reed

Sustained winds in excess of 70 kt and gusts of close to 100 kt were measured at the Hood Canal Bridge in western Washington on the morning of 13 February 1979 shortly before the bridge collapsed. An extraordinary blowdown of timber also occurred in the nearby area. Elsewhere in western Washington maximum one-minute wind speeds were generally 40 kt or less and peak gusts were mostly under 65 kt. Wind damage was widespread but less concentrated than in the vicinity of the bridge.

Use was made of all available routine and nonroutine data sources to analyze the cause of the unusual winds. The analysis revealed that a mesoscale low pressure system or vortex formed in the lee of the Olympic Mountains as a deep Pacific storm moved ashore on central Vancouver Island. The pressure gradient on the southeast side of the mesolow exceeded 5 mb over a distance of less than 10 n. mi. The area of major destruction lay over and downwind of the region of extreme pressure gradient. At the height of the storm the winds, which blew from a south-southwesterly direction, had a fetch of 3–4 mi along the Hood Canal. The overwater fetch also appeared to contribute significantly to the extraordinary speeds observed at the bridge.

Maps are presented showing both the large-scale and mesoscale features of the storm.

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Richard J. Reed

Ramage (1982) has presented evidence, based on extensive verification data for precipitation forecasts, that the percent of correct forecasts decreases approximately linearly with increasing precipitation frequency. However, only a limited range of precipitation frequency was examined in his study. Here the theoretical reltionship between these quantities is derived for the full range of precipitation frequency with use of a model that assumes the forecasts to be unbiased and the Heidke Skill Score to be independent of precipitation frequency. It is shown that for this simple model the relationship is quadratic, the percent correct dropping from 100% for a relative precipitation frequency of zero to a minimum value for a relative frequency of 0.5 and rising again to 100% for a relative frequency of 1.0. The data presented by Ramage appear to fit the quadratic relationship well, within the limited range shown in Fig. 4 of his article.

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Richard J. Reed

Daily synoptic analyses for five winter and summer seasons are used to obtain mean frontal positions for the Northern Hemisphere. These positions are found to differ in several important respects from earlier estimates based on mean-pressure and -temperature charts.

In winter, three axes of high frontal frequency, or principal frontal zones, appear which are termed the Pacific polar front, the Atlantic polar front, and the Eurasian polar front. There is also some evidence of a weak Atlantic arctic front. A fourth belt of high frontal frequency parallels the Rocky Mountains.

In summer, four principal frontal zones are delineated: a Pacific polar front, an Atlantic polar front, an Eurasian polar front, and a Siberian-Canadian arctic front.

The locations and intensities of the oceanic fronts are shown to be closely related to the sea-surface temperature distributions. The formation of a Siberian-Canadian arctic front in summer is attributed to the strong thermal contrast that develops along the borders of the arctic seas. The position of the Eurasian polar front in winter also appears to be affected by the thermal characteristics of the underlying surface, being most distinct where open seas adjoin relatively cold land.

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Richard J. Reed

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