The next time some nasty storms are heading your way, the National Weather Service says it will have a better forecast of just how close they could come to you. The weather service on Tuesday started using a new high-resolution computer model that officials say will dramatically improve forecasts for storms up to 15 hours in advance. It should better pinpoint where and when tornadoes, thunderstorms and blizzards are expected, giving people more of a chance to take cover.
The High-Resolution Rapid Refresh model has four times more resolution than the old model, and instead of updating every hour, it will update every 15 minutes. Until now, forecasts — not radar — would project storms as green blobs over half a state, said Geoffrey Manikin, a meteorologist at the weather service's Environmental Modeling Center. He said the HRRR forecasts will now look more similar to the radar images that people watch as storms arrive. And it will be that way for the entire Lower 48 of the United States on "an almost neighborhood scale," said Geoffrey DiMego, the center's branch chief.
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