UW high resolution weather model comes to KING 5

KING 5 will begin using high resolution weather graphics from the University of Washington to forecast more accurately and better visualize weather patterns in the Pacific Northwest

Over the past two decades, high-resolution weather prediction over the Pacific Northwest has been supported by The Northwest Modeling Consortium, a group of local, state, and federal agencies led by researchers at the UW Atmospheric Sciences Department.

KING 5 has been a member of the consortium for many years and has contributed funding to support the development of this vital tool. It is a huge asset to all the meteorologists who forecast for the Pacific Northwest.

Our support of the consortium has given us exclusive media access to the raw output of this high-resolution forecasting model.

One of the primary benefits of this model is its highly detailed representation of the Northwest and the customization of its physics for our region. This allows it to accurately forecast the small scale differences in the weather that our region is so famous for. 

Over the past year, KING 5 has been working closely with the UW Atmospheric Sciences Department and the Weather Company, which produces our on air graphics, to use this information to better visualize and tell the story of weather in the Northwest.

Starting Thursday, we will begin rolling out new graphics that will better and more accurately show you the weather that is headed towards your neighborhood.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so here's two examples of what this system can show us.

This clip shows the "thermal low" we are always talking about. When it moves through western Washington we get our hottest temperatures.

In this movie, the white arrows represent the direction of wind flow – and it flows into the low – and the colors represent the wind speeds.

In this case, it shows that Olympia is closer to the thermal low and will be much hotter than Seattle. The exact temperatures will be off Thursday as the smoke is keeping highs 3 to 5 degrees cooler than we would expect.

The low disappears overnight as temperatures cool but then reappears as we begin to heat up. It shows that the low weakens but doesn't move much in the next 24 hours, so Friday will be almost as hot as Thursday. However, the coast will see some cooling.

What about the smoke? It's coming down from the interior of British Columbia, so we need to know when the wind direction will change.

Thursday morning at 5 a.m. the large scale winds at about 4,000 to 5,000 feet were still blowing out of the northeast from the Fraser River drainage pushing the smoke into western Washington. We had a lot of smoke around early Thursday morning.

But the model shows that the winds became northwesterly out of the Strait of Georgia Thursday afternoon which should limit the amount of smoke pouring into western Washington. This may help our air quality slightly.

However, overnight we see a return to the winds coming out of the interior of B.C. This is likely to bring us another dose of smoke on Friday for another day of poor air quality. However, on Saturday we see a more substantial shift away from the northeast winds coming out of the Fraser. This should lead to a gradual improvement in western Washington.

We will be adding more graphics and fine tuning these visualizations over the next few months to give you what we hope will be a better understanding of what the weather is going to do in "your neck of the woods." Stay tuned.

© 2017 KING-TV


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