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New weather model could increase tornado-warning times

Posted on October 2, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State researchers are the first to use data obtained from recent next-generation satellites in a numerical weather-prediction model used to provide guidance for tornadic thunderstorm forecasting.

GOES-16, which was launched in 2016, recently became fully operational but methods for incorporating the data, until now, did not exist.

Researchers used a method for all-sky infrared radiance developed through Penn State’s Center for Advanced Data Assimilation and Predictability Techniques (ADAPT), to incorporate data into models for weather events in the Midwest. The experiments were hindcast, meaning the models were run after the weather event and compared with actual events. The model was able to forecast supercell thunderstorms with atmospheric conditions that are very conducive to tornadoes.

The results, reported in Monthly Weather Review published by the American Meteorological Society, suggest that we can greatly enhance our ability to predict thunderstorms capable of producing tornadoes.

“It’s not just the data that’s important,” Fuqing Zhang, professor of meteorology and director of ADAPT said. “It’s how we design very sophisticated numerical mathematical algorithms to ingest that satellite data into the model. This is really our expertise and our pride. Our team is the first to be able to effectively take in this high resolution satellite data and prove it can be useful in real-case scenarios.”

Read the full story on Penn State News.

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