Navy meteorologists to collaborate with Weather Channel

Navy meteorologists to collaborate with Weather Channel

By Patricia Daukantas

GCN Staff


JUNE 8—The Navy has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Weather Channel, a commercial provider of meteorological information, to improve weather prediction.

Later this summer, the Atlanta-based Weather Channel will start using results from the service's detailed computer model of coastal regions, said Richard W. Spinrad, technical director of the Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy.

Most meteorologists want access to the results of as many simulations as possible, because comparing the forecasts with the actual weather helps refine their predictions, Spinrad said.

'It's not a duplication of effort—it's complementary capability,' he said.

Both the Navy and the Weather Channel must translate results of complex computer simulations into simple, tactical decision aids, Spinrad said Wednesday at a Silver Spring, Md., forum for federal customers of supercomputer vendor SGI.

Presenting a forecast in a 20-second sound bite isn't much different from helping a base commander make decisions in the face of an oncoming storm, Spinrad said.

The model that the Navy will share with the Weather Channel, called the Coupled Ocean/Atmosphere Mesoscale Prediction System or COAMPS, forecasts atmospheric and sea-surface conditions for user-designated coastal regions. Images generated by the model appear on the Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center's public Web site, at www.fnmoc.navy.mil/PUBLIC/.

Although the Navy has made the COAMPS source code public, Spinrad said the Weather Channel is less interested in the source code than in the results of the service's weather models. In addition to the usual meteorological reports, the Weather Channel plans a broadcast series on weather in wartime, he said.

The Weather Channel operates a cable television channel, the www.weather.com Web site and other enterprises.

The Navy and the National Weather Service, which provides meteorological forecasts to news outlets throughout the nation, take care not to contradict each other when issuing public warnings on major storms, Spinrad said. The Office of the Oceanographer and the National Hurricane Center stay in close contact over a hot line when a tropical storm is brewing.

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