Coronavirus Florida: Grounded flights = dark data for weather models. Why that’s not good for you

Coronavirus Florida: Grounded flights = dark data for weather models. Why that’s not good for you

Kimberly Miller @KMillerWeather Apr 13, 2020 at 4:50 PM Coronavirus has grounded airplanes worldwide and that’s skewing weather forecasts. Some commercial planes are equipped with special air-sampling equipment that measure storm-stoking ingredients. * TO OUR READERS: This content is being provided for free as a public service to our readers during the coronavirus outbreak. Please support local journalism by subscribing to The Palm Beach Post. If you want breaking coronavirus news directly in your inbox, sign up for our Coronavirus Newsletter. * Gurgles and gusts high in the atmosphere have stories to tell about future weather patterns at Earth’s surface, but airplanes grounded by coronavirus are collecting less data and leaving holes in forecasts during one of the most active times of the year. Commercial airplanes equipped with special air-sampling equipment provide an estimated 250 million observations annually that include storm-stoking ingredients such as temperature, wind speed and direction, pressure and humidity. Worldwide, the number of airplane flights has plummeted 77 percent as of April 7 compared to 2019. In the U.S., flights have been cut by 64 percent during the same time period, according to the flight tracking company Flight Aware. At Palm Beach International Airport in West Palm Beach, flights are down about 60 percent. The National Centers for Environmental Prediction, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said it’s too soon to quantify how the loss of aircraft data will affect forecasts, nothing that information is still coming in from cargo and package carriers. “Even though a decrease in this critical data will possibly negatively impact forecast model skill, it does not necessarily translate into a reduction in forecast accuracy since National Weather Service meteorologists use an entire suite of observations and guidance to produce an actual forecast,” said a statement released by […]

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