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Supercomputing Science

National Weather Service Upgrades Storm-Tracking Supercomputers 34

Posted by Soulskill
from the maybe-the-weatherman-will-stop-lying-to-me-now dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Just in time for hurricane season, the National Weather Service has finished upgrading the supercomputers it uses to track and model super-storms. 'These improvements are just the beginning and build on our previous success. They lay the foundation for further computing enhancements and more accurate forecast models that are within reach,' National Weather Service director Louis W. Uccellini wrote in a statement. The National Weather Service's 'Tide' supercomputer — along with its 'Gyre' backup — are capable of operating at a combined 213 teraflops. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which runs the Service, has asked for funding that would increase that supercomputing power even more, to 1,950 teraflops. The National Weather Service uses that hardware for projects such as the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model, a complex bit of forecasting that allows the organization to more accurately predict storms' intensity and movement. The HWRF can leverage real-time data taken from Doppler radar installed in the NOAA's P3 hurricane hunter aircraft."
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National Weather Service Upgrades Storm-Tracking Supercomputers

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    • Doesn't matter. Their predictions aren't worth what the hardware costs.

      • Well, now we just need to fire some satellites into space to get the input for these computers to do their work on.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I predict there will be another dupe by the end of the week.

  • It'll extend a robotic arm out a window, palm upward and feel for drops of rain.

    Further enhancement will extend a wet digit out the window, digit pointed upward, to detect wind direction and velocity.

    it done be amazin'!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And we'll call it Cloud Computing!

    • by NoKaOi (1415755) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @08:30PM (#44442413)

      Spoken by somebody who has not experienced a severe storm. Just 2 days ago we had tropical storm Flossie hit us. The predictions saved *a lot* of damage and maybe lives. It gave time to inform fisherman of the coming ocean conditions. It gave time for first responders and utilities to prepare. It gave me time to secure my home. It turns out that in my area, it didn't last very long but had intense lightning/thunder that shook my house, followed by intense wind that shook my house, and heavy, horizontal rain. I only lost power for about an hour and half and water was unaffected, thanks to the preparations of our utility providers.

      Now that said, we didn't know exactly when it would hit or what areas would be affected how much. Were we to have had more precision, we could saved a lot of time and effort in the areas that it didn't hit while focusing on the areas that it did hit. So, while supercomputers are expensive, storm prediction saves more money than it costs [citation needed, I know I know]. If it had been a full on hurricane, then the more precise the prediction the more millions of dollars in damage (not to mention grief and potentially lives) it'll save.

      • by Rockoon (1252108)

        Were we to have had more precision...

        No matter how much precision the forecasters have, there is still an element of randomness.

        Do you want a 10% chance of bad things and are well prepared because of it, or 1% of bad things and not at all prepared because of it?

        Also, your first responders should always be prepared, right? Sounds to me like you folks have issues with what the responsibilities of first responders are supposed to be. Hint: Its not "be unprepared most of the time."

        • by NoKaOi (1415755)

          Also, your first responders should always be prepared, right? Sounds to me like you folks have issues with what the responsibilities of first responders are supposed to be. Hint: Its not "be unprepared most of the time."

          Wow. So in your area, 100% of your cops, paramedics, firefighters, and utility workers are on duty and working 100% of the time? No off time, no shift changes? I hope they're getting paid very well considering they aren't allowed sleep, have a family life, hobbies, recreation, etc. Your municipality must have lots and lots of extra money to spend on overtime, your property tax must be astronomical. Wasn't there a movie about personnel like that? I think it was called Universal Soldier, and as a recall

  • by alen (225700) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @05:33PM (#44441093)

    last few months they would be saying at least 80% chance of rain the next day and it would turn out to be sunny. even with major storms coming

    i've been using baseball game rainouts in the midwest for my weather planning

  • I ask because to me, such exensive upgrades are of no consequence if tragedies like Katrina will still take place and get responded to the way we did.

    And we clearly dropped the ball [blogs.com] by exhibiting [our] sheer incompetence to the world.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It did mitigate Katrina.

      People in the path had time to get out of the way.

      Those that remained were trapped, one way or another, and could not leave.

      Without the predictions there would have been a HUGE number of additional fatalities (easily in the 10s of thousands, not just 1,833 ).

      Where the incompetence showed up was government response to an emergency.

      Don't expect any thing better either.

    • Complete bullshit.

      In fact, the response to Hurricane Katrina was by far the largest--and fastest-rescue effort in U.S. history, with nearly 100,000 emergency personnel arriving on the scene within three days of the storm's landfall.

      http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/natural-disasters/2315076 [popularmechanics.com]

      The federal government has almost nothing to do with emergency response. It's idiotic to even suggest they should be involved. Local authorities need to have plans and prepare for such events like Florida does. As a last resort the feds show up when it's an unmitigated disaster. Katrina was a category 1 when it made landfall, New Orleans was completely unprepared. Money for levees, flood walls and other precautio

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Let's shut down supercomputer(s) used for US domestic surveillance and give it (them) to NOAA. Two birds, meet your stone!

  • by Mistakill (965922) on Wednesday July 31, 2013 @06:50PM (#44441763)
    US weather satellites are rapidly dying... these need to be replaced
  • If only clouds had metadata.

  • So does the NSA have Lemon Pledge?
  • From TFA:

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which runs the Service, has asked for funding that would increase that supercomputing power even more...

    In our current political 'climate', I don't see that happening. Things seem to be run by a group of people who disbelieves all science, and another group who thinks that all government spending is bad, and a significant overlap between them.

    As a sibling post has said, we've got enough trouble getting them to pay for replacing dying weath

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