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Long-Term Federal Investments Improve Severe Weather Prediction

showing a tornado simulation

Tornado simulation. Ming Xue of the University of Oklahoma used the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center's (PSC) terascale computer system to run one of the largest tornado simulations ever created. Together with PSC's Greg Foss, who used Xue's numeric simulations to create a 3-D visualization, Xue successfully simulated a 1977 supercell thunderstorm and the high-intensity tornado that it spawned. The results captured the tornado's vortex structure with wind speeds of 260 miles per hour, classified as an F5 on the Fujita tornado intensity scale.

Xue is a team member with the $40 million NSF ERC for Collaborative Adaptive Sensing of the Atmosphere (CASA). A complete summary of the simulation project is available at The research was supported by NSF grants ATM 01-29892 and EEC 03-13747. (Date of Image: May 2004)

Credit: Numerical simulation performed by Dr. Ming Xue, Center for Analysis and Prediction of Storms and School of Meteorology, University of Oklahoma; 3-D visualization created by Greg Foss, Pittsburg Supercomputing Center, with assistance from Ming Xu

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Computer scientists and weather experts are working together to develop tornado forecast models based on supercomputer simulations that analyze how constantly changing storm components interact. This unique collaboration between computer science and meteorology is producing game-changing results that could one day lead to improved tornado forecasts.

Credit: NSF


CASA, a new generation of weather radar currently being tested, fills in the gaps missed by current radar systems. It could greatly improve the accuracy of tornado and other severe weather warnings.

Credit: NSF