Why European Weather Forecasters Are Better

European Weather Forecasters Are BetterWeather forecasting might have been invented in the United States, but the Europeans are beating them at it right now. In the past few months, the European weather agency has beaten the U.S. National Weather Service when it comes to the accuracy and the speed of predictions are concerned.

What’s the secret of the Europeans? Surprisingly enough, it seems that it all boils down to having the best computers around. That’s their secret.

Here is a part of an article by Peter Miller for National Geographic News, “The Europeans got it right again. The big snow storm predicted to hit Washington, D.C., yesterday—up to ten inches, American forecasters said—never materialized. It was too warm, as European predictors had expected, for snow to accumulate in the nation’s capital, which mostly saw rain, even as some suburbs got six inches or more of the heavy, wet white stuff.

It was yet another example of the shortcomings of the U.S. weather prediction system, said Cliff Mass, professor of atmospheric science at the University of Washington in Seattle. Compared to the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasting, he said, the U.S. National Weather Service is falling further and further behind.

On your weather blog, you’ve described weather prediction in the U.S. as “second rate.” Why do you think the European Centre tends to be more accurate?

Several reasons. One is that they have ten times more computer power than we do, which allows them to run their weather prediction model at a higher resolution than ours, roughly twice the resolution. Imagine a three-dimensional grid covering the atmosphere. They are able to define things much better—structures in the atmosphere and physical processes—because they’re using a finer grid.”

You can read the full article here.

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