The Rise and Fall of a Friend

It's a sad day in Tony's world as one of his favorite short term weather models has bitten the dust.

Good-Bye Old Pal !

Before I get down to business, I wanted to say thanks to Tim Gearhart and the gang from the Flatwoods Kiwanis. We met for lunch at Giovanni’s on Argillite Road for a spirited luncheon at high noon.

To the Kiwanians, I say thanks for your community work (with the Builder Club, Run by the River and other projects that make Greenup County so special). Tonight, at the Golden Corral several Kiwanians are waiting tables as a fund raiser for the Red Cross. If you are in the neighborhood, stop by and have a steak dinner and leave a few bucks tip.

Adios NGM

It’s a sad day in my weather life as I bid farewell to a trusted colleague and mentor. The Nested Grid Model has been my companion for almost 25 years. Thru Blizzards and Floods, Searing Heat Waves and Arctic Cold Blasts, the NGM model earned my respect as the “model of reason”.

While it didn’t nail the weather pattern every time, it rarely went bonkers when other sexier models did.
You see the NGM always had a flair for the uneventful. That is why I called it the “voice of reason”.

To my friends in the weather forecasting industry I have been known to say when my forecast went wrong…”my interpretation of the NGM was poor. The model had it right”.

First some background. A computer model is compilation of mathematical equations that incorporate our best physical and chemical laws of the atmosphere into a future “simulation” of the our climate.

Computer models like the NGM take the current weather (so called initial conditions) and march out in time increments of 6 hours. Forecasts of temperature, pressure, humidity and winds are churned out by all the models out to 48, 60, 72 hours and beyond.

It is a forecaster’s task to interpret the model, apply reason and come up with a prediction that is believable. In this regard, the NGM held its own for years.

I recall when the NGM came on the scene in 1985 how much better it was than the old LFM (Limited Fine Mesh) model. Instantly weather forecasts improved.

In time new models were constructed by the most sophisticated mathematicians in my field. The ETA, NAM and WRF are all in the same family and are considered among our best “short range” (48 hour) models here in the 21st century.

I admit the ETA family is better than the NGM on average. Still, the NGM had its place in modern day forecast as the “model of reason”.

Beyond 48 hours, we rely on longer range models from America (MRF/GFS), Canada (GEM) and Europe (my beloved EURO). All models have their biases (blondes over brunettes, Marshall over WVU etc).

But after a quarter of a century of faithful service, government red tape aside, the plug was pulled on the NGM this morning. The last run of the Nested Grid ran at 7 AM this morning. In tribute to my fallen com-padre, I have used it exclusively to make the forecast for the next 2 days. Bet it will be right on target.

The NGM shined on cold, blustery winter days with snow showers around. While the more sheik NAM/ETA family seemed to turn winds to the west too much after cold frontal passages, the NGM recognized the topography of the mountains better and insisted on a northwest flow more frequently.

Since our mountains run Southwest to Northeast, a west wind strikes the mountain faces at an acute angle, while a northwest wind hits the high country at a perpendicular (90 degree) angle. That may not seem like a bigee, but trust me in winter in makes all the difference in the world for snowfall.

But I know the ETA/NAM's bias so on these cold and brisk winter days I will ask myself, what would the NGM have said and I will adjust the forecast accordingly.

So one final time I say, Au Revoir mes Ami! Let's meet in forecasting heaven someday!!
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