The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has started using a new weather forecast computer model that updates hourly every hour to see 18 hours ahead, NOAA announced Tuesday.
Rapid Refresh was developed by the agency’s Boulder, Colo-based Earth system research lab and its National Centers for Environment Prediction in Camp Springs, Md.
Weather updates will play an important role with aviation schedule safety, severe weather and energy-related forecasting, NOAA said.
Rapid Refresh covers all of North America as opposed to just the continental U.S., which the previous Rapid Update Cycle model was limited to.
Air travel is a common mode of transportation in Alaska as many parts of the state are not connected by roads, said Gene Petrescu, science and technology transfer meteorologist at the National Weather Service’s office in Anchorage.
Dr. Louis Uccellini, director of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction, said the new computing tools align with NOAA’s Weather-Ready Nation initiative.
The U.S. is the only country in the world that updates computer model forecasts every hour, according to Stan Benjamin, lead developer and a research meteorologist at the Earth System Research Laboratory.