The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched the National Water Model last month—a powerful tool that officials are hailing as the biggest improvement to flood forecasting that the nation has ever seen.
The National Water Model uses data gathered from more than 8,000 U.S. Geological Survey gauges, runs it through a powerful Cray ZC40 supercomputer and then simulates streamflow forecasts every hour for 2.7 million locations in the United States. Previously, NOAA had only been able to generate forecasts for 4,000 locations, and those forecasts took several hours to generate.
Officials say, at first, the model will be able to provide forecasts for areas that previously haven’t had access to them, as well as more accurate flash flood forecasts in headwater areas. In time, as the model evolves, it will eventually be able to provide street-level forecasts, as well as improved forecasting during flash floods.
In addition to the obvious benefits for government officials and emergency responders, the model will also give businesses a better opportunity to anticipate and adapt to changing conditions in the event that they need to launch their business continuity plans.
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