WELDON SPRING, MO (KTVI)- When it comes to getting the warnings out during severe weather, seconds really do matter. That is why forecasters at the National Weather Service regularly look back at the past to better prepare for the future.
To do that, forecasters use what is called the Weather Event Simulator (WES). The WES allows forecasters to replay weather data from satellite, radar and other sources just as if they were happening today. They take cases from all across the country where severe weather was known to happen and then run forecasters through the case – issuing warnings as they see necessary. Afterwards, they check their performance against what happened in reality.
Jim Sieveking is the Science Operations Officer with the National Weather Service. It is his job to make sure the forecasters bring their A-game. The process of issuing a warning is not simple. There are many steps along the way where mistakes can be made which is why running forecasters through the WES is so important.
“If you’re an Olympic swimmer, you don’t just jump in the pool 1 or 2 times a year and expect to get a gold medal. So we do it all throughout the year. We practice as much as possible on the simulator to make sure we can issue the warnings in real time,” says Sieveking.