Improving Weather Prediction Accuracy | StarTalk

You know what we have? We have a video dispatch from an
actual local news meteorologist to help us explain how they
make their predictions happen. Let’s check it out. NICK GREGORY: Hello, Dr. Tyson. Nick Gregory here at
the Fox 5 Weather Center in New York City. Coming up with a weather
forecast with all the raw data we get from NOAA
and other sources, really is a science– huge
amounts of data that get plugged into various
computer models, which then present a solution. We take that solution,
apply our own knowledge of past weather events,
and predict what we think is going to happen. For example, let’s
see how we would predict a potential blizzard. So we would start to look
for those weather trends. What would they be? Let’s say high pressure
ridging in from eastern Canada. We would then look to
the computer models to see what type of jet stream
pattern would be in play, and would this trough
of low pressure be along the East
Coast, potentially with this jet stream riding
up the Eastern Seaboard? Pockets of energy then started
moving across the country, this upper-level energy, that
once it reaches the East Coast, sets the potential
for a storm to develop right in this location. That storm could then intensify
and turn into a nor’easter, and eventually track up
along that jet stream track, leaving a swath of
heavy snow alongside. So there you have it. Perhaps not the most
accurate forecast, but we do work with
science and technology so that forecast will
improve over time. NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON: Cool.
I know this guy. I mean, he’s our
local weather guy. It’s nice you
threw him some work. [laughter] NEIL DEGRASSE TYSON:
So to improve accuracy, it’s not just an
academic exercise. It matters. And what’s the biggest
reason why we need accurate disaster forecasts from you? RADLEY HORTON: Well, for one
thing, it saves lives, right? I mean, if we can
know that a hurricane is going to explosively gain
in strength and advance. We can get people out
of the way in time, for example, if we can
better forecast tornadoes. It’s also big business, right? If we can help inform people on
when they should plant crops, inform investments on
how much money should be spent on heating fuels,
or something like that, for a winter. So there’s real
economic implications and human lives at stake.