Introduction: Predicting our multi-dimensional atmosphere is very mathematical, so meteorologists use computer models of the atmosphere to solve the equations that predict what the weather will do next. The equations were discovered around 100 years ago but the computers needed for solving them on a daily basis have only been evolving since the 1940s. They're improving all the time, but can never be perfect unless programmed with measurements of the atmosphere taken on the earth's first day of existence.

The models predict the weather for many points throughout the world and are run at set times each day. Their forecasts include weather for different altitudes as well as ground locations, because what happens aloft affects the weather on the ground. The models also predict weather charictaristics you don't hear about on the news, such as vorticity, vertical velocity, and pressure heights. Knowledge of those charictaristics - and many others - is necessary to understand the models.

Recent improvements in computer graphics have allowed the models to be presented in multi-color animations like the ones you're about to view. Different organizations have different ways of displaying the same information depending on their personal preferences,, and you'll find several to choose from, below.

View the computer-generated weathermaps on...

Unisys Computer Models page

NOAA Computer Models page

NOAA's MOS page

Penn State University E-Wall

The Storm Machine page

European Centre for
Medium range Weather Forecasts
(ECMWF model)

PHOTO: Mount Washington summit and observatory tower, New Hampshire
copyright © Mike Colclough, all rights reserved.