A Brief History of Weather Forecasting
2 responses | 0 likes
Started by metmike - Nov. 6, 2018, 10:38 p.m.


"The Weather Bureau, now known as the National Weather Service, was established on February 9, 1870 by the 41st United States Congress and signed by President Ulysses S. Grant."  

Weather forecasters in the 19th Century didn’t have computers, satellites, radar, or numerical prediction models. They relied solely on basic observations such as temperature, pressure, sky conditions, and experience. Without a sufficient understanding of atmospheric fluid dynamics and thermodynamics, their forecasts were short-term, vague, lacked technical detail, and were frequently inaccurate. Yet, the emerging profession was highly regarded."

“Perhaps some day in the dim future it will be possible to advance the computations faster than the weather advances and at a cost less than the saving to mankind due to the information gained. But that is a dream.”

-Lewis Fry Richardson, Weather Prediction by Numerical Process, 1922

"Ultimately, further efforts in numerical weather prediction came to a standstill, until the invention of the first electronic computer in 1946 (called the ENIAC or Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer).  In April of 1950, a group of meteorologists at New Jersey’s Institute for Advanced Study successfully produced the first weather forecast using the ENIAC and numerical prediction techniques. Although their first forecast was only for a 24-hour period, and the computer calculations took more than 24 hours to complete, their results were successful and marked the beginning of numerical weather prediction as we know it."

"Modern-day numerical weather models are run operationally on the NOAA/National Weather Service supercomputers in Maryland. NOAA supercomputers crunch over 200 trillion calculations per second. By October of 2015, the computing power will be increased tenfold, to quadrillions of calculations every second!  These upgrades will lead to more timely, accurate, and reliable forecasts. We’ve come a long way since 1870!"

By cfdr - Nov. 8, 2018, 9:05 a.m.
Like Reply

Not too long ago, I read where NAS did a study and concluded that forecasting, while improving, still had the two week look ahead window as a maximum - and it was not much change from the days when Lorenz stated that was the extent of the window.  Would you agree with that?

Also, I have noticed that with the pattern here in the US we we have seen for the last several years, our local weathermen are not very good at making predictions.  The H in the west and L in the east make for a flow out of the NW here in the middle.  The forecasters are really good when there is a Low coming up out of the four corners area, but this constant flow out of the NW seems to be very difficult for them.

By metmike - Nov. 9, 2018, 12:42 a.m.
Like Reply

Yes, I do agree with that cfdr.