As meteorologists we pride ourselves in getting the forecast right but what if it suddenly became harder to predict the weather? Well, that might be the case as COVID-19 changes almost every facet of life for people around the globe. Meteorologists use weather models that take in millions of weather observations to help give us a window into the future. Many of these observations come from airplanes in the sky, the problem? Well, there are almost no planes nowadays as travel has been restricted or severely reduced across the globe. Here in the US travelers have dropped significantly over the last month to just over 100 thousand passengers a day compared to over 2 million last year.
So with the lack of weather data will this have an effect on your forecast? Well, for now, the answer is no but that could change down the line.
Meteorologists at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts the makers of the European Weather Model say the biggest impacts will be in short term forecasting at high altitudes where errors of 4-5% can be expected for the lack of airplanes. They also talk about a worst-case scenario in which no airplane weather data is collected in which forecasts in the 7-day range could be effected with up to a 3% error rate for surface forecasting.
As for now though, the loss of data shouldn’t cause an issue for forecasts and you can expect Storm Team 15 to still give you an accurate and dependable forecast.
From Lafayette, Meteorologist Cory Smith News15