What NOAA's major weather model upgrade means for Fox 5 forecasts

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In 2012 when Hurricane Sandy came barreling up the coast, several weather models were predicting several different outcomes.

But the European model ended up with the most accurate path of what became Superstorm Sandy: it would intensify, shift west, and hit the coast. The storm caused 44 deaths and $19 billion in damage just in New York City.

The American model, called the Global Forecast System, predicted the storm would instead head out to sea.

"So one of the things Sandy instituted was a concerted effort to try and improve numerical weather prediction systems for high-impact events," said Brian Gross, the director of the Environmental Modeling Center in NOAA's National Weather Service.

NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is the government agency that predicts storms.

"It's been nearly 40 years since we've upgraded the engine of the Global Forecast System," Gross said. "So that's why it's such an important upgrade."

A simple way to explain the upgrade that took place this week: it was like installing a new engine into the existing weather system.

"The main thing is it will help us to make our forecast here in the tristate more accurate," Fox 5 Meteorologist Samantha Augeri said. "Both in the short term—when we show you the today, tonight forecast—and also our seven-day forecast."

And the entire weather team depends on the Global Forecast System to provide your weather outlook.

"It will also help us to prepare a better forecast for severe weather in the short term and long term," Augeri said.

Weather officials hope the upgrade will make the Global Forecast System more competitive with the generally more accurate European model.

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