(WSVN) – With hurricane season upon us, it probably won’t be long before we pay attention to worrying cones and spaghetti patterns. It turns out that one of the most accurate models comes from the other side of the world. Kevin Ozebek of 7 has tonight’s special mission report, “Making a Model.”
When the weather conditions that have the power to kill and destroy homes overturn off our shores, forecasting becomes crucial.
Vivian Gonzalez 7Meteorological meteorologist: “Now I want to show you the forecast models.”
Of all the designs in this spaghetti table, one is produced thousands of miles away but has gained a lot of respect here at home.
Phil Ferro, Chief Meteorologist of 7Weather: “The European model has been one of the most consistent with this system.”
What we call the Euro model comes from the ECMWF. It is the abbreviation for European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts.
Kevin Ozebek: “Why are you tracking systems that could affect us, like hurricanes?”
ECMWF meteorologist Rebecca Emerton: “What was once a tropical cyclone in the Atlantic can really have an impact on our climate in Europe.”
Rebecca Emerton, of British origin, and Linus Magnusson, of Sweden, are part of a team that brings together the best minds in meteorology from 34 European countries.
They care a lot about our time.
Linus Magnusson, ECMWF meteorologist: “The weather conditions over Florida today will affect the forecast for Europe in four to five days.”
Phil Ferro: “So here is the European model.”
What we see of their model comes to us in the form of easy-to-read weather charts and maps.
But the forecast that ends in Phil’s weather starts on supercomputers at ECMWF headquarters in Reading.
Rebecca Emerton: “Only the amount of data and computations needed is absolutely huge, so you need huge supercomputers to run this type of process.”
Rows of servers take weather data. Then the supercomputers put that data into the model.
What is such a long set of equations, it’s made up of two million lines of code.
Linus Magnusson: “Even though they seem simple on paper, they are impossible to solve without the computer.”
Linus and Rebecca may be on the other side of the pond, but it was the bad weather in our country that sparked their interest in tracking tropical weather.
Rebecca Emerton: “I was in Florida with my family in 2004 when Hurricane Charley hit.”
Belkys Nerey, 7News anchor: “Charley’s obliterating part on the west coast.”
Rebecca remembers looking at the storm blanket as she squatted in Orlando.
Rebecca Emerton: “I remember listening to the tornado warnings and seeing the tornadoes start to form and hide in the laundry room with quilts over our heads. It was scary, but it brought out that fascination with understanding and knowing more about these predictions.
For Linus, his fascination comes from Superstorm Sandy.
Linus Magnusson: “From a scientific point of view, it was fascinating to see how the models were able to predict the cyclone heading towards New York.”
As Sandy brewed along the Atlantic, the ECMWF model predicted its turn to the northeast coast days before the US National Weather Service model predicted the same.
Watch how the two models stack up against how the storm actually followed.
Linus Magnusson: “Even though there is an element of competition, we both want to be good.”
This is because neither European nor American meteorologists can predict every movement of Mother Nature with 100% certainty.
So the more models the better, especially as we move into another hurricane season.
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