How a weather balloon in Alaska can impact Midwest forecasting!

Your forecast is started by meteorologists analyzing data that consists of temperatures, dew-points, pressure, and winds collected by weather balloons twice a day over the North American Continent. This weather snapshot of the constantly moving atmosphere is critical to creating model guidance that displays various weather outcomes for your daily life and business operations.

Recently, the National Weather Service has halted the launching of around 24 balloons a week in the state of Alaska. They are saying this is due to staff shortages. Regardless of the reason, the result will affect everyone in the lower 48. Holes where data used to be will result in a larger error in track, strength, and timing for future weather systems especially past day 3. Systems moving in from Canada will not be as accurately measured until they move into northern portions of the contiguous United States (where a better coverage of data is available).

So how does this affect you and your business? Well, missing data will lower the level of confidence after day 3 in model guidance. For example, dry and favorable weather could be expected due to one model run, but in another, because we have the normal amount of data input, it was able to pick up a slight disturbance that could bring damp or slick conditions. This could potentially impact construction projects, outdoor activities, or daily procedures at an airport. If looking at model data alone lead times could be 24 hours or less. Again this would impact any business plans that may have been in place a week out, but now quickly have to change. Here at Weather or Not our meteorologists use their experience along with some guidance to relay the uncertainties in the data, and inform when confidence in a situation increases. Businesses then can take the best and safest action to obtain the best profit possible.

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