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What is a Weather Model?

Updated: Tuesday, November 26 2013, 10:33 PM EST
CINCINNATI (Scott Dimmich) -- When you hear Local 12 Meteorologists talk about weather, occasionally they mention "computer forecast models" or "models" for short.

Local 12 Meteorologist Scott Dimmich shows what a model is, what it does and how it works.

Simply put, a model is a computer or more than one computer that takes current weather conditions and attempts to project them into the future.
An atmospheric reaction is a lot like a chemistry reaction. Thats why Scott Dimmich was at Sycamore Junior High School with his 8th grade science teacher, Mr. Jones.

Computer forecast models are designed to figure out what ingredients are available and how much of each ingredient there is. Its really a lot like chemistry.

Here we have hydrogen peroxide and here we have manganese dioxide. When you mix the two together, you get a reaction. But sometimes, like in chemistry, atmospheric reactions aren't always easy to predict because we don't know how much of each ingredient we have.

For example, in these bottles we have chemicals. Well call one instability and one moisture. A forecast model may look at these ingredients and predict a certain reaction, like a thunderstorm.  When they are mixed together there is no reaction.  

Sometimes models get it right and sometimes they get it wrong.  Add another variable and you can get a completely different reaction.

Computer models try to simulate these reactions so that meteorologists can forecast weather.

Lets complicate things even more.  It's often difficult to predict an atmospheric reaction the farther you go out in time.

What do you think will happen when Mr. Jones mixes two chemicals together? You may be wondering what's in the beakers? Whats the concentration of the ingredients in the beakers? These uncertainties make this a difficult reaction to predict.  Just like uncertainties over time make long-range forecasting quite tricky.

Theres a lot we know about science but meteorology is not a perfect science.  Thats where knowledge and expertise come in handy so that ultimately we can come up with the right solution.

Video HEREWhat is a Weather Model?

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