updated 2/11/2005 1:02:41 PM ET 2005-02-11T18:02:41

The National Weather Service has tripled its computer capacity in an effort to get ahead of the weather by crunching numbers faster than ever.

Millions of weather measurements are fed into computers every day and run through programs called weather models that use complex formulas to calculate the weather and how it is likely to change.

With increased computing speed, those models can be run more quickly and can use more data to improve forecasting.

“Literally, we are going from making 450 billion calculations per second to 1.3 trillion calculations per second,” David L. Johnson, director of the NOAA National Weather Service, said in a statement Thursday.

Louis W. Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction, said the increase in computing power means the agency will be able to run higher resolution models with more sophisticated applied physics and use these models in the prediction of hurricanes, floods, tornadoes and winter storms.

“The advanced computers are critical to advancing NOAA’s ability to make ever-increasingly accurate weather forecasts and climate outlooks,” he said.

The new supercomputers are part of a $180 million, nine-year contract with IBM.

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