Don Day: Wyoming Weather Forecasting Severely Affected by Coronavirus

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The accuracy of long-term weather forecasting is being severely affected by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Wyoming meteorologist Don Day.

Day said the lack of international air travel makes it much more challenging for meteorologists to accurately predict the weather five days out and beyond.

Many airplanes making international flight, Day said, are now equipped with radar equipment called AMDAR that sends vital upper level wind, temperature, and humidity data near jet stream level information to meteorologists. Since airline traffic has decreased significantly in recent weeks, much less weather information is available for computer modeling.

“The oceans have very little weather data as it is,” Day said. “Since we don’t have nearly as many flights across the oceans, we’re not getting this weather data and this is creating a real weakness in the modeling.

“Meteorologists may be able to fill in some of the gaps with some satellite data,” he continued. “But until we get aircraft going across the oceans at the rate they were before, we are going to be looking at weather forecasts out in the five-day-plus period that are going to be very poor.”

Day said he told people frequently before the pandemic to view with skepticism any weather forecasts made for further than five days in the future.

“They should — pandemic or not — not be relied on,” Day said. “But now they should really, really not be relied on.”

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