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New Supercomputers Aid Weather Forecasts



From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

Many Americans start to closely follow weather reports in the early fall during the Atlantic hurricane season. Predicting the strength and movement of these huge storm systems is of crucial importance. Thanks to new supercomputers, meteorologists for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, are getting better at predicting the weather as far as six days out.

Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast last October and caused deaths and widespread damage. It was one of the costliest storms in United States history. At the time, some people blamed meteorologists for not correctly predicting the path of the storm. But weather forecasting is extremely difficult, says Ben Kyger. He is the director of central operations at NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Prediction in College Park, Maryland.

Ben Kyger says oceans are another issue because they closely interact with the atmosphere and have a huge effect on storms. NOAA has spent about $20 million on two new supercomputers in an effort to improve the dependability of its forecasts. It takes a huge amount of computational power to examine data from weather satellites, ground stations and other sources. It then takes a lot of power to predict temperature, air pressure, humidity and wind speed. But human brains and experience are still very important to the process. Meteorologists at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction scan the same data that the supercomputers get before issuing a weather report. NOAA issues worldwide forecasts every six hours, every day of the year. For VOA Learning English,

I'm Alex Villarreal.

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