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Government shutdown impacting American weather forecast models

Don't believe everything you read on weekend snow potential

ROANOKE, Va – With winter returning to the region Wednesday in the form of cold and wind, forecasts are even more important. With the government shutdown, there is less reliable data for meteorologists to comb over, but that doesn’t mean your forecast will be inaccurate.

Computer forecasts are not gospel, they are guidance. They are extremely helpful in forecasting the weather, but they aren’t everything. A human forecaster understanding the science and meteorology is key to an accurate forecast.

The American government controls the Global Forecast System or GFS model. The National Weather Service, twice a day, launches weather balloons from select cities across the country to gather data from the surface to miles above the atmosphere. That data is then thrust into computers and then projects a possible solution.

A computer model, however, is only as good as the data that is put into it. During the government shutdown, data is going into the American models, but the data is less reliable. Garbage is being put in, so garbage is being put out and there’s no one to quality control it.

There are other models, however such as the European ECMWF or Euro and the Canadian model that are not affected by the American government shutdown. These currently have much more reliable data in them.

What does this mean for you?

Be vigilant to what you are reading online. There are maps being shared by sources through Southwest Virginia that show more than a foot of snow falling this weekend locally. The computer forecast showing that is the American GFS, which is compromised by the government shutdown.

Storm Team 10 takes into account all weather data from multiple sources so your accurate forecast will not be impacted by the government shutdown.


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