Weather Matters with Matthews (10/10/21): The Global Forecasting System (GFS)

Weather Wisdom

Hello everyone! Welcome to another episode of “Weather Matters with Matthews.” Today, I will give a brief discussion on the Global Forecast System, or GFS for short. The GFS is a weather forecast model that forecasters like myself use when making their weather shows. The model generates data for weather variables such as temperature, winds and precipitation.

Forecast models can be interpreted with grid points, which is true for the GFS. There is a 0.5 degree and a 0.25 degree scale used for the GFS. The 0.25 degree scale interprets forecasts at grid point areas that are about 18 by 18 miles.

To put it in perspective, 18 miles is roughly a straight line’s length between Corning and Wellsburg. This is a fair chunk of the Twin Tiers, so even though the GFS is not the most accurate tool to use for small-scale weather, like fog and drizzle, it can still be useful for covering large-scale weather phenomena, such as hurricanes and blizzards.

The GFS is analyzed every 6 hours, or 4 times a day, and forecasts weather up to 16 days at the 0.25 degree scale, which makes it a useful model for long-term forecasting. The GFS is constantly evolving. Newer versions are being made and released, and with every new version released, the model improves in performance and accuracy.

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