The pandemic has forecasting under the weather


All those cancelled flights are bad news for more than just the airline industry; it affects weather forecasting, too.

Eric Berger, editor of Space City Weather, says commercial flights have sensors that gather weather data, but with flights down to about a third of normal, we're not getting all the data we usually get.

"The concern we have is that the ability to predict these smaller-scale features, things like thunderstorms, whether they're going to strengthen or die out, as a line of storms approaches the cities -- that's more difficult to forecast without this data from aircraft."

Berger says the general, five and ten day forecasts might not be effected, but the specifics of a storm will be harder to predict and that can be dangerous.

Berger says forecasters are not getting all of the weather data the planes usually collect.

"What you would typically see is about 700,000 of these observations a day from planes around the world and that's now down to about a third, so you're getting less value in these forecast models."

Berger says this won't affect the 'hurricane planes' that fly out over storms in the Atlantic during hurricane season, which begins June first.


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