For a 24-hour weather forecast, the forecast is about 95% accurate. But how do they predict it so accurately?
They actually have many tools they use to help them make those predictions. But what tools do meteorologists use?
Keep reading to find out all about meteorology tools and what they do.
1. Temperature Equipment
Glass thermometers are great for measuring soil, water, and air temperatures. These glass thermometers are normally filled with either mercury or alcohol, and they’re very precise.
By knowing how to use thermometers, meteorologists can determine what the air temperature is based on the resistance of the substance in the thermometer giving them a readout.
Having precision optics equipment is important for meteorologist technology, and there are a few pieces of equipment that make them more accurate. Click here to find more information on what they use!
2. Doppler Radar
Doppler Radar is how meteorologists can predict strong or severe storms. There are close to 160 doppler radar towers in the United States. This gives the NOAA’s National Weather Service a good look into the entire continental United States.
For Alaska, Puerto Rico, Guam, and Hawaii, they’ll have partial coverage.
This radar can detect all kinds of things including precipitation, thunderstorm cloud rotation, tornados, debris, and the strength and direction of the wind.
A barometer will tell a meteorologist what the air pressure is. This reading normally comes in millimeters or inches, and like the thermometer, this also uses mercury.
A regular barometer will indicate the pressure by using a circular dial or a linear scale. However, newer electronic models will give the reading on an electronic display.
Meteorologists need to know the pressure of the air because this can help warn them when storms are coming. If the pressure in the air changes, like for a hurricane, they’ll see a significant drop in air pressure. However, when the storm is leaving, the barometer will normally go back up to regular levels.
If a meteorologist wants data on the upper atmosphere, they’ll use a radiosonde. This is a small instrument that can weigh between 250 to 500 grams. This device will be suspended beneath a large balloon that is inflated with helium.
Meteorologists will launch this ballon twice a day into different locations across the United States. However, if there is severe weather in one area, meteorologists will launch it more than twice.
This little device will collect all kinds of data from the atmosphere and transmit it back down to the ground. It can record things like temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, and the pressure of the air.
5. Weather Satellites
In space, there are satellites that will measure the weather from a new perspective. When this satellite collects all the information, it will send it back to earth for the meteorologists to analyze.
When you see a forecast from the National Weather Service, this forecast is likely based on data that the scientists got from these weather satellites. In addition to the data from this, radiosondes, and weather radars, meteorologists can accurately make predictions on the weather around them.
There are three main types of weather satellites that the NOAA uses. There are polar-orbiting satellites, geostationary satellites, and deep-space satellites.
A polar-orbiting satellite orbits around the surface of the Earth, and it will take about seven detailed pictures throughout the day. It takes this satellite about twelve hours to go over the entire Earth. This can give scientists information on cloud patterns or anything else unusual.
Geostationary satellites, on the other hand, only stay over one location of the Earth. They’re also farther away so that they can take one giant picture of the Earth. This satellite also takes pictures every thirty seconds and transmits them to Earth.
Deep space satellites actually face the sun. It’s important to monitor the sun for strong solar storms, but this satellite also keeps an eye out for anything unusual that’s happening in space.
However, while these are the three main stations the NOAA uses, they also utilize data from other country’s satellites.
6. Super Computers
The NOAA also uses a Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputer System (WCOSS). This is the main foundation for the forecasting you see on your news channel today.
These supercomputers are a million times more powerful than the ones you might use for work or personal use.
These computers have a 5.78 petaflop computing capacity. That means that it can process millions of calculations each second using data from all of the other tools like the doppler radar, weather satellite, buoys, or radiosondes. When it reads this data, it will use equations and weather data from the past to give you an accurate forecast.
With these supercomputers, meteorologists can predict the weather even a few days in advance. The computer will generate several models with different outcomes, and it’s up to the meteorologist to figure out which one is more likely.
You’ve likely seen different models of hurricane tracks during the summer. For example, the Euro and the GFS models are two very common ones, and they likely produce different hurricane tracks. While no one can accurately predict where it will go, this supercomputer helps make an educated guess.
Lastly, the NOAA has its Advanced Weather Information Processing System (AWIPS).
This is a computer that processes data from all kinds of tools. Once it analyzes the data, it will use that to make forecasts or even issue warnings or watches for severe weather.
Discover More About What Tools Do Meteorologists Use?
If you’re wondering, “What tools do meteorologists use?”, these are only a few of them.
We know that becoming a meteorologist and trying to understand the science behind all of it can be stressful and overwhelming, but we’re here to help you navigate it!
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