92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Monday, 23 January 2012: 4:45 PM
Do We Still Need Operational Forecast Meteorologists in the Energy Industry?
Room 345 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Lawrence Heitkemper, MDA Information Systems, Inc (EarthSat Wx), Gaithersburg, MD; and T. Hartman

Numerical weather predication (NWP) has undergone serious technical advancements over the past 10 years. Many sectors have invested various amounts of capital to achieve increased skill in physical/dynamical models as well as statistical models and how they prognosticate the future state of the atmosphere. Whether it is the development and increased scope of Model Output Statistics (MOS) from the government and academic/research sector to the increased use of proprietary weather modeling in the private sector, more and more attention has been devoted to achieving better skill in the short, medium, and extended range periods. With these ever increasing investments questions have been raised on whether the computer (NWP) has achieved the level of replacing the human (the operational forecaster). Through our statistical analysis it is our conclusion that while the models may achieve similar skill to the human in what is described as “low-impact” weather events, the operational forecaster continues to “out forecast” the computer in highly anomalous weather events, also known as the “high-impact” weather events. It is these high-impact weather events that have proven to be the most relevant to the energy industry as these events bring the most financial risk. As a result, with the human achieving a measurably higher level of forecast skill than the NWP, the operational forecaster continues to add value to the economic chain in the energy industry.

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