World weather news

World weather news, April 2020

The coronavirus pandemic may affect the accuracy of the initial weather forecast model output originating from national and global weather prediction centers because of a cutback in the number of aircraft flights that generate vital weather data, according to the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) and other experts. The aircraft collect temperature and wind data, among other information, that help improve the initial atmospheric conditions that drive global and regional weather forecast models. This data is used routinely to improve the forecasts created by national weather prediction centers across the globe. However, the pandemic has drastically reduced the number of such flights in Europe and increasingly in the U.S. This impact will be a reduction in global forecast performance. For regional models, the impact may be even greater. The announcement from ECMWF notes, "At ECMWF, aircraft reports are second only to satellite data in their impact on forecasts. However, recently added satellite wind observations will help to mitigate the drop in the number of aircraft-based observations." The AMDAR program (Aircraft Meteorological Data Relay) uses existing aircraft onboard sensors, computers and communications systems to collect, process, format and transmit meteorological data to ground stations via satellite or radio links. The global AMDAR system, during typical air traffic, produces more than 700,000 high-quality observations a day of air temperature and wind speed and direction, together with the required positional and temporal information and with an increasing number of humidity and turbulence measurements being made. More than 3,500 commercial aircraft provide more than 250 million observations per year in the U.S., National Weather Service (NWS) spokesperson Susan Buchanan told the Washington Post.
Dozens of people are missing and feared dead after a ferry in the Solomon Islands set sail despite warnings not to embark during a cyclone. The MV Taimareho was travelling on Thursday night from the capital Honiara, on the island of Guadalcanal, to West Are'are, on Malaita island. The vessel hit choppy seas whipped up by Cyclone Harold. Up to 60 people are reported to have been on board. Rescue efforts are under way but have been hampered by the bad weather. Cyclone Harold has brought flooding and run boats aground in the Solomon Islands.

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Last updated 3 April 2020.

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