Modeling at Storm Scale

Until now, storm-scale weather models have been used mainly for research, and an important goal of the experiment was to evaluate how ARPS would work in an operational setting. "We wanted to gain experience working with forecasters," says Droegemeier, "to understand what they need from a model like this as part of daily forecasting. It's like in football," he adds, "you can practice and you can scrimmage, but you don't really know how you're doing until you're in a game."

Although computer models are a standard part of weather forecasting, existing models operate at a much larger scale than ARPS. Models at the National Meteorological Center, for instance, predict atmospheric structure over the entire United States every 12 hours. These regional-scale models can't predict movement and severity of individual storms.

ARPS, on the other hand, is scaled to the size and duration of a storm. It predicts over a smaller area (up to 1,000,000 square kilometers) and gives detailed readings on key storm parameters -- rainfall, wind direction and velocity, temperature and pressure, among others. It also predicts in time increments related to the way storms actually develop -- every few minutes rather than every 12 hours.

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