I’ve mentioned in the past the GFS (Global Forecast System) model has fallen behind at least one or two other models the past few years as the USA has fallen behind on some aspects of numerical weather prediction. It’s widely acknowledged the ECMWF is the #1 global model most of the time.
But there is a glimmer of hope coming next month. On December 9th, the GFS will see an upgrade. I found this summary on a weather forum so I’ll just copy/paste the details:
-Finer horizontal grid, 23km to 12km
-High resolution deterministic forecast extended from 8 days to 10 days
-Output datasets available to 0.25deg in addition to current 0.5deg
And here’s what one poster in the UK thought about it…
– GFS still isn’t likely to verify as well as ECM because it will continue to run 4x daily with a lighter data payload.
– Automated forecasts should be marginally better across the board and possibly noticeably better for some locations due to the increased resolution of the output datasets where they are used. In the UK locations on the south western peninsula may benefit significantly
What this doesn’t mean:
– A forecasting revolution. We’re at the stage and have been for a long time when finer model grids and higher resolution output datasets lead to marginal improvements
So what does this mean for us in the Pacific Northwest?
1. It’s true that this isn’t any sort of miracle cure, but the GFS should do a bit better than it has the past few years.
2. In areas with lots of topography it should help a lot…like right here! The resolution change from 27 to 13km will handle the Cascades/Coast Ranges better. Shorter distance between forecast points means better topography for the model to see. Of course the Columbia River Gorge is far narrower than 13km so it still won’t be there, but at least it’ll be seen as a lower pass than just a dip in the Cascades. That will help some in the winter.
WeatherBell is a subscription service that offers thousands of maps and we subscribe to it at FOX12. They have put the parallel run on their website so you can compare maps. Take a look at this morning’s GFS map for this coming Friday morning:
and then the upgraded model
Do you see the extra detail? It’s quite noticeable in the Gorge area and southwest Washington.
Assuming the government doesn’t have some sort of issue implementing this, the new data will start flowing just over a month from now.
Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen