First Alert Weather In-Depth: Weather models and computer equations

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Weather data is collected in all different ways. One is through a basic weather instrument. Through this device we collect such things as temperature, wind speed and relative humidity and this data is collected from thousands of these weather stations.

If you want a little more sophistication, maybe you use a satellite. These kinds of satellites are circling the globe on a regular basis. In addition, we have radar systems looking at the precipitation and wind. All of that data, it is a tremendous amount of information, gets dumped into one location and that it would be in a supercomputer.

I go back to the day, almost 40 years ago, when the computers were so slow that usually the weather was finished by the time the computer model was actually completed. Obviously, that has changed. What are we talking about can be as simple as a lake effect snow or it is complicated as measuring the climate going out several decades into the future? The basic strategy here is to collect all of this weather data as gets sent down to that computer program. The computer then runs the program to come up with a solution. And that is a version of the weather forecast.

One thing we will always remember is that there is no perfect weather forecast. As a result, we have an old saying, that garbage in is garbage out. We have to have good data going into the computer program and then these models are going to help us forecast the temperature as we go through the next 10 days.