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Scientists fly to improve weather forecasting

by Rod Hill, KGW Meteorologist

Posted on January 18, 2013 at 10:20 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 4:46 AM

NOAA will send a team of meteorologists out over the Pacific Ocean.  Crews will spend the next two months flying into Pacific storms, collecting data in hopes of improving forecast accuracy as storms roll across the United States. 

Data from the flights will be monitored on board and relayed to the National Weather Service forecast center on the east coast. 

The data, which is not readily available through satellite and buoy networks, will play a major role in improving computer forecast models.


The practice of sending research planes into storms is perhaps best know through the Hurricane Hunter program, but they are also flown into Pacific storms for decades. 

According to an NWS spokesman, overall forecast accuracy is improving.  A 48 - 60 hour forecast today is more accurate on average, than a 24 hour forecast was back in the 1970s. 

Here in the Pacific Northwest, forecasters still struggle with what I call typical nuisance weather, for example when the low clouds will clear, but large powerful storms are often correctly forecast up to a week in advance.  It is the important business of severe weather forecasting that the science of meteorology continues to make the most important gains in forecasting ability.

To read more about NOAA'S Gulfstream IV-SP aircraft and the research flight program, please click on the following link:

KGW Meteorologist Rod Hill