Mother Nature is a fickle female. One minute she’s all hot and sunny and the next she decides to throw all manner of nasty weather at us. Not surprisingly, it can be tough trying to stay one step ahead of what the weather is doing. No sooner do you have a BBQ or day on the beach planned than a storm brews and hailstones the size of tennis balls start lashing down. Luckily, technology is here to help.
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Weather forecasting relies on data. Meteorologists have access to hundreds of sources of data when they forecast what the weather has in store for us. Temperature, air pressure, wind speed, satellite images, storm tracker feeds and other complex data streams all play their part in determining what predictions we see on the evening weather forecast.
Historical Weather Forecasting
Hundreds of years ago, weather forecasting was a lot less scientific. Meteorologists relied on observation and experience of previous events to determine what was in store. Unfortunately, however, weather predictions were unreliable and old sayings such as ‘red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning’ usually proved to be highly inaccurate.
The invention of the telegraph system made a huge difference, as observations of weather were disseminated much faster and to a wider audience. If storms developed, ship captains could receive an advanced warning, thus enabling them to navigate away from the danger zone.
Modern weather forecasting uses a combination of data and computer modelling to predict what might happen. The results are not 100% accurate, but they help the public plan and take action, particularly if storms are forecast.
The Evolution of Weather Forecasting Technology
Technology is continually evolving and the latest technological developments are helping meteorologists to predict with ever greater accuracy when severe weather is on its way. A new system called AWIPS II is the latest version of the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System used by the National Weather Service.
The system analyzes and aggregates incoming data so weather forecasters can provide weather warnings faster than ever before. The speed and accuracy at which meteorologists can disseminate weather warnings saves lives. The information is accessible from virtually any location, so meteorologists can monitor the situation in real time, which is vital when they are monitoring severe weather patterns that could develop into tornadoes or hurricanes.
Smartphone Apps for Weather Forecasting
The information generated by advanced technological systems such as the AWIPS II feed online weather forecasting websites and smartphone apps. Most people have very little understanding of air pressure or other climate data. All they want to know is whether rain will affect the Super Bowl game or their weekend BBQ. To find out the information they need, they log into their favorite weather app and view the graphical interface. This is usually more than enough information to help them decide whether the game is on or off.
Users can also download apps such as NOAA weather alerts, which offer notifications of severe weather alerts within a chosen radius. So if you live in tornado alley, this is the one for you.