What is a weather model?

A weather model, also known as numerical weather prediction, is a complex algorithm run by supercomputers to try to predict future weather.

Here is a good write up of ** Numerical Weather Prediction**. Pasted below are a few key points:

We can construct a three-dimensional grid of the atmosphere and use these equations to create a mathematical model. If we plug data that we've gathered on its current state into our grid, we can then solve the equations to predict a future state -- numerical weather prediction.

The actual mathematics involved are beyond the scope of this FAQ. However, assuming you've already developed the mathematics for your model, the process goes something like this:

  1. First, settle on the area to be looked at and define a three-dimensional grid with an appropriate resolution (20 to 200 kilometers on a side, say, and going maybe 10 kilometers up).
  2. Then, gather weather readings (temperature, humidity, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, precipitation, etc.) for each grid point.
  3. Run your assimilation scheme so the data you've gathered actually fits the model you've designed.
  4. Now, run your model by stepping it forward in time -- a few minutes, say.
  5. Go back and repeat step 2 through step 4 again.
  6. When you've finally stepped the model forward as far as your forecast outlook (from a day to maybe a week), publish your prediction to the world.
  7. And finally, analyze and verify how accurately your model predicted the actual weather. Revise it accordingly.

All that produces a numerical prediction.

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