GFS Upgrade Next Month

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

12 Responses to GFS Upgrade Next Month

  1. PurpleHaze says:

    Looks like the good ole Triple R is starting to coming back. Ridiculously Resilient Ridge.

  2. Jason Hougak says:

    Frost advisory into the South Carolina coast, yet the coldest it’s been at 1300′ is 36F.
    Personally I don’t care for weather forecasts generated by computers. I like current satellite and radar imagery during a storm or for when I watch the Pacific for the next barrage of storms.

  3. paulbeugene says:

    Looks like sort of a dead weather pattern for next two weeks while upper Midwest and Great Lakes get early start to winter, not to mention 21″ of snow in Maine.

    Too early to say that it won’t snow here come Thanksgiving…

    During dead weather patterns high resolution and low resolution models show essentially the same thing, except stubborn inversions may be better forecast.

  4. Jake-(Gresham) says:

    The dome in and around Portland will still exist winter weather wise. Now we get to know how much so in greater detail. >_<

  5. gidrons says:

    I’ve heard the Euro uses satellite proxies for middle of the ocean temps, unlike the GFS. Anyway, at least all the GFS maps are free to us weather geeks. When I quit seeing ridiculous swings on the GFS from run to run, I’ll have more confidence.

  6. gidrons says:

    haha “Assuming the government doesn’t have some sort of issue implementing this”

  7. W7ENK says:

    I wonder if this will solve the chronic “Epic winter blast, just wait 10 days!!” issue? Or at least push it out a few more days…

  8. Russ in Tigard says:

    As Cliff Mass has been saying for awhile now, we are still lagging far behind the Europeans (and places like South Korea) in forecasting technology []. For those who are interested in such things, there’s a White House petition going around:

  9. MasterNate says:

    Great! We will expect more accurate forecasts from you then.. JK. You do a great job. You are my go to weatherman.

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