Groundhogs and Superstorms


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extreme weather patterns in late January and early February. We observed the GWO at a strong magnitude and it was rapidly increasing, which are often a tell-tale-signs that extreme weather is on the horizon. The GWO didn’t give us a specific forecast that a historic blizzard would clobber New England, but it did signal that the atmosphere was primed for something extreme.

Here’s an analogy: you can’t look at a “juiced” baseball player and be sure he’s going to hit a home run on any specific pitch. You do, however, know that the “performance enhancing” substances in his system give him an advantage in speed and strength—and over time he will hit more home runs than he would without the juice.

GWO helps us diagnose the “juice” in the atmosphere within a given period. at any point in time. Over time we can correlate the “juiced” conditions that resulted in extreme weather, and that will help us better understand the relative risk for extreme events.

The GWO already is an important tool in long-term forecasting. EarthRisk’s GWO forecast is still in research mode, but we are excited to be working with Dr. Weickmann, Ed Berry, and Nick Shiraldi on this new input. This work will further improve our ability to forecast extreme weather with more advance notice.

The good news is, the groundhog might have gotten one thing right. Using GWO as an input alongside the hundreds of other patterns that go into TempRisk indicate that the odds are skewed toward warmer-than-normal weather in a few weeks. So get ready for a big melt.

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Stephen Bennett, J.D., is a founding partner and the chief science and products officer for San Diego-based EarthRisk Technologies. Prior to founding EarthRisk, Steve spent three years at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, forging ties between earth systems research and energy, insurance, and financial firms. He has been a meteorologist since 1995. Follow @

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