Agency employs new computer forecast model

  • Published
  • By Mr. Miles Brown
  • HQ Air Force Weather Agency Public Affairs
In July, the Air Force Weather Agency, headquartered at Offutt AFB, Neb. took the first steps to utilize the new Weather Research and Forecasting model, known as WRF, for operational forecasts. This WRF model, the first new worldwide fine-scale computer forecasting program in nearly a decade, was created through a collaborative effort involving the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Air Force, and universities from around the world.

The program's implementation follows a year of evaluation and testing, according to Col. Ron Lowther, Director of the Air and Space Science directorate at AFWA.

"This process ensured the new model forecasts would meet our standards for accuracy and reliability - WRF meets the needs of the warfighter and met our expectations."

The transition of the WRF model will be seamless to the warfighters and will provide a more accurate forecast now and in the future.

"The new model outperformed the older MM5 [Mesoscale Model 5] in more than 70 percent of test situations at AFWA," said Maj. Lee Byerle, Branch Chief of the Meteorological Models branch at AFWA. "Not only is the WRF model more accurate and efficient, it is also fully supported by research and operational weather communities. This support will ensure future improvements to the model reach Air Force operators without delay."

In the future, the WRF model will add even finer scale resolution and improved accuracy for mission execution. This will positively impact warfighters by improving products delivered to garrisoned and deployed forces worldwide such as: mission execution products for the Precision Airdrop System, Target Acquisition Weapon Software, and Field Artillery targeting applications, Major Byerle said.

The implementation of WRF demonstrates how AFWA's forecast model efforts continue to focus on warfighter needs. By leveraging the national and international weather communities, AFWA can continue to focus on operational requirements without shouldering all the costs to design and develop state-of-the-art model forecast capabilities.

"WRF will continue to improve and evolve thanks to the research and development pouring into it from our Nation's leading academic and scientific institutions," said Col. Patrick M. Condray, AFWA Commander. "This will directly and positively impact the warfighter by improving forecast accuracy, model resolution, and mission execution products."