New Weather Technology Improves Forecasting

11:51 PM, Aug 28, 2013   |    comments
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Buffalo, NY -- There is plenty of weather information to sift through when putting together a forecast and the more accurate the initial weather data is the more accurate the forecast can be. And that data just got more accurate.

The National Weather Service offices across the nation and in Buffalo launch a weather gathering instrument called a radiosonde also known as a weather balloon, twice a day. Once in the morning and in the evening. The weather balloon carries the radiosonde into the air up to about 19 miles. It reads and records data along the way and transmits that data to computers which are used for forecasting.

The radiosondes measure temperature, dew point, wind speed and direction, and humidity.

This is the first week the National Weather Service is using a new upgraded radiosonde which more accurately reads humidity. "A channel that the air flowed through in order to measure the relative humidity data... now the humidity sensor sticks out and so it's in more direct contact with the air," meteorologist Dan Kelly, with the National Weather Service in Buffalo, said.

When meteorologists start with more accurate data then forecasts can be more accurate. "With the better relative humidity data, we are getting a better sampling of the moisture," Kelly said. "How much potential water there is so if it were to rain, how much water we could potentially get."

The improved radiosondes are also reducing the cost for each launch since they are now lighter. "They were able to redesign the circuit board, make that a little bit smaller... the battery is lighter... that means we put less gas into {the weather balloon}," Kelly said. "The cost of helium is sky rocketing so this will save taxpayers money."

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