How meteorologists forecast for future storms

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – If you’ve been watching the news, you have probably heard our meteorologists talking about a possible storm next week. But how do meteorologists work on a long-range forecast? The short answer: using loads of weather data.

Weather observations from the ground and up in the atmosphere are pooled and sent to the NOAA super computers outside of Washington, DC. These are some of the fastest and most sophisticated computers in use in our country producing 213 trillion calculations per second. This data is then run through a series of mathematical equations on the computers, which produce a weather forecast.

Today there are numerous computer forecasts produced not only here in the United States, but also from Canada, Great Britain, the European Centre for Weather Forecasts and even our own Navy. Meteorologists look at them all.

Given the immensity of the atmosphere, and even with all this computer forecasting power, to this day it is impossible to forecast for every square mile. There are still limitations, and that results in different forecasts.

Today, the European weather model is placing next week’s storm on a track closer to our area with the potential of 6- to 10-inch accumulations in some areas south of the metro. Accumulations according to that computer model suggest a foot plus in some sections of eastern New York and Pennsylvania.

Our domestic model paints a different picture, moving the storm well to our south across North Carolina. If that were to verify, we might be brushed by some flurries or light snow.

Over the weekend and next week, News 4 meteorologists will be looking for greater agreement between all these computer models. In the meantime, we will keep you updated on the very latest 4 Warn Forecast on the web, on the air and on your mobile devices. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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