Weather Service Gets Faster Computers

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New computers at the National Weather Service in Reno will speed delivery of severe weather alerts and allow more pinpointed forecasts, agency forecasters said.

The weather service is installing new computers at its offices around the country in a move officials said will reduce the time it takes to process complicated applications by up to 400 percent.

"We display a lot of information on these screens," said Jim Fischer, science and operations manager for the National Weather Service in Reno.

"If we call up a map, it comes up almost immediately on the screen. It really cuts down the time.

"It's like going from Internet dial-up to broadband," he said. "It's really a win-win for the National Weather Service."

Officials said the added speed will allow them to relay important weather alerts to the public much quicker.

"They do a lot of numbers crunching," Fischer said of the meteorologists who chart such things as wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and moisture content to revise forecasts every six hours, seven days a week.

"Now, we'll be able to look at more data faster," he said. "And that's really the bottom line here - speed."

The new equipment will also enable forecasters to narrow their forecasts to an area about 3 kilometers in size, down from about 9 kilometers.

That, Fischer said, will improve predictions for such things as snow levels that can vary greatly from one location to another.