Supercomputer promises an end to inaccurate weather reports

The days of lacklustre weather reports causing individuals to step outside in a pair shorts, only to be confronted by a blizzard, could soon be over.

A supercomputer upgrade developed for the US National Weather Service promises higher-resolution modelling that will give meteorologists a better insight into severe weather.

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The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh (Hrrr) model is the result of the upgrade, initially installed in the summer of 2013, which has been made possible by the introduction of two new IBM supercomputers. The new devices are both 213-teraflop models, running Linux, and replace the 74-teraflop, four-year old systems.

The increased computing power means that forecasters can run more mathematics and magnify the resolution on maps from eight miles to two miles.

Geoff DiMego, chief of the Mesoscale Modeling Branch at the National Centres for Environmental Protection said that new systems provide "so much more detail."

The Hrrr model is also capable of producing output every 15 minutes compared to the previous hourly rate and forecasts up to 15 hours in advance. Ultimately this means meteorologists can produce a much smoother display and detect changes to severe conditions more rapidly.

Eventually, the weather services hope to move towards an ensemble approach that uses multiple model runs, each with their own formulations. Currently, the weather service uses individual model runs, but DiMego said the ensemble method performs "a much better job of capturing all the events and the variables."

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There is currently no word on when, or if, this technology will be making its way to the UK, so in the meantime it's probably best to carry an umbrella at all times, just in case.