Super Computer Offers Better Forecasts
We can look forward to more accurate, longer-range weather forecasting if the National Weather Service's new computer system lives up to its billing. IBM has clustered 44 servers together to create a byte-crunching monster that can do 7.3 trillion calculations per second. Its ultimate capacity is expected to be 100 trillion calculations per second by 2009. All that math adds up to a system that can take weather measurements from all over the world and project them forward to forecast conditions hours and days ahead. And, whether you get your weather from DUATS or over your cellphone in the cockpit, it should mean a better, more accurate picture. Of course, weather forecasting isn't just for aviation. One of the big pluses of the new system is its theoretical ability to provide five-day hurricane forecasts that will allow for better preparation by the communities that might be hit by the storms. Currently, a three-day forecast is available and that's not always enough to get people and property out of harm's way. The new computer is housed in a special IBM facility in Gaithersburg, Md., and data is transferred to the weather service over high-speed lines.