Weather forecasts are more accurate and far-sighted than ever before. For example, forecasters predicted Superstorm Sandy would hit New York City nine days ahead of time. And tornado warnings now average fifteen minutes ahead of impact — six minutes longer for people to seek shelter than just a few years ago.

PhotoForecasting the weather requires solving complex mathematical equations, so faster computers are key says Marshall Shepherd, a professor at the University of Georgia and past President of the American Meteorological Society.

Shepherd: “I think with the improvements in computing capability, the availability of new technology like Doppler and dual polarization radar, more advanced satellites, I think we’ll continue to be able to push the edge on how far out we can give accurate forecasts to the public.”

But Shepherd says we still need better flood forecasts.

Shepherd: “The 100 year flood is becoming more frequent. We need technology that can measure how rapidly it’s raining. We need new modeling technologies that can improve our ability to measure rainfall and how it varies around the city.”

As environmental sensors and computer models improve, forecasters can provide us just a little more warning before weather disasters strike.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Weather station. Copyright protected.

More Resources
National Climate Assessment Extreme Weather

Lisa Palmer is a freelance journalist and a fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC, in Annapolis, Md. Her writing covers the environment, energy, food security, agriculture,...