ECMWF Upgrade Today

The best numerical weather prediction model on the planet just got a bit better this morning.  As of this morning’s run the ECMWF global model has been upgraded to an ~9 kilometer resolution.  That’s a higher resolution than the GFS (I think 12 or 13km?).  Resolution refers to grid point spacing in the model.  Generally the closer together the grid points the more features the model can see.  Of course that’s assuming the initialization is correct…a big assumption at times.  You can see how ECMWF regularly beats the American model (GFS) in skill scores; I found this on Ryan Maue’s Twitter page:


Note the comparison is for 500mb height in the mid-latitudes.  A score of “1” would be perfect, so the higher the better.  See the parallel (new) model run for the past few months has been slightly better than the operational (regular ECMWF) run.  Today the parallel run IS the operational run with the slightly higher resolution.

But what does it mean????  Well, it’s not quite as remarkable as that famous double rainbow video and I don’t want to spend 3 minutes on it, but…

The model will just tend to do slightly better as it catches a few more details.  Also, with slightly better terrain you may see a bit more detail.  Here is an example with two images:

  1. Last night’s ECMWF run for peak wind gusts with Wednesday night storm
  2. This morning’s higher-res ECMWF run for the same time


You can see a little more detail in the 2nd image in the Coast Range and maybe in the Cascades.  It’s going to be a crazy windstorm at the Coast tomorrow evening!  Could see gusts in the 65-80 mph range!  Both runs show that.

Check out estimated snowdepth for next Monday; same timing with last night’s run and then this morning’s upgraded run…


Notice less “overspill” of contours into the valleys east and west of the Cascades?  Similar totals in the mountains but you don’t see as much down below.  Especially obvious in Jefferson and Wasco counties in north-central Oregon.

This is all minor stuff, but the point is that global models keep improving at a slow pace.  Compare this to 10-15 years ago and it’s a huge improvement!

By the way, I don’t generally show these images on the blog because they are not supposed to be redistributed.  They are available through a paid service…WeatherBELL.  About $185/year.  I think a one-time showing for the purposes of the model upgrade is alright though.  You can always give WeatherBELL a try…I think they have a free 7 day trial.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen

15 Responses to ECMWF Upgrade Today

  1. Sortinghat says:

    Weather bell is catered towards mid to large businesses not individuals hence the high price. Not even small businesses could afford it as they (Weather Bell) are part of the mindset who only see multi billion corporations as capitalism falls apart on itself.

    • Mark Nelsen says:

      I don’t think $180/year is a high price in 2016. That’s a few coffee’s worth of money a month. Or a meal for one at a typical restaurant once a month.

  2. Paul D says:

    Why would I use WeatherBell when I have this blog! 🙂

  3. Today’s expected weather maker was largely a no-show: I woke up this morning to the sound of pounding rain, and was told it was just a band of “rogue showers’ in advance of the system that was forecasted to arrive in the afternoon. Well, the afternoon came and went with nothing more than a cloudy sky. It’s still dry here this evening as well.

  4. High Desert Mat says:

    Mark, dont make me arrest you.

  5. wk says:

    Interesting, I had always presumed that ECMWF was a department of NOAA so it seemed strange that there would be a redistribution limitation. The Wikipedia entry for ECMWF says it is the European Centre for Medium Range Weather Forecasts, so it seems (slightly more) reasonable that there might be limitations.

  6. Let’s teach WeatherBell a lesson in redistributionism!!!! 😛

  7. WeatherBELL is great. Love all it has to offer.

  8. WEATHERDAN says:

    First yea.

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