NASA Podcasts

Ask The Weatherman With WUSA 9 Meteorologist Topper Shutt
03.26.10
 
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Music intro

Sound of rain.

Topper Shutt/WUSA 9 Chief Meteorologist: Rain and showers develop probably late in the day on Thursday…

…tomorrow in the morning snow, heavy at times, 48 inches during the morning…

…winds picking up Northeasterly, 15 to 30 and gusty, becoming North-Northwesterly at 20 to 40…

… and then upper 60s and sunshine Thursday, Friday.

Nicole Paschoal: My name is Nicole Paschoal and I want to know how Topper Shutt gets the weather as far as the data; where that comes from and how far in advance does he know when something like a storm is coming.

Topper Shutt/WUSA 9 Chief Meteorologist: We get all of our data pretty much from NOAA. Whether it’s current data or model data. In other words here is GOES satellite, this is what’s happening now over the past 12 hours, so that’s invaluable to use.

I think generally speaking, weather forecasting as a whole has gotten very good from 48 hours inside.

Nicole Paschoal: When he gets the weather wrong, I mean, how quickly he knows that things have shifted so that he can get the right information out?

Topper Shutt/WUSA 9 Chief Meteorologist: We can react almost immediately. I mean, if I see new data that doesn’t support the forecast, we can change it.

Mike Regan: My name is Mike Regan. I would like to know from Topper Shutt how far in advance he has to start doing his research to come up with one day’s forecast.

Topper Shutt/WUSA 9 Chief Meteorologist: Well, Mike, it depends on the situation. The blizzard; that storm itself was on our 7 day (radar) for 7 days. That’s in winter time; you get big, large, organized systems. In the summer time, it’s not as easy so it depends on the time of the year. Usually fall an winter it’s a little easier because the systems are larger.

Mike Regan: What types of technological advancements are currently being made to try to improve the percentage of accuracy with weather forecasts?

Topper Shutt/WUSA 9 Chief Meteorologist: Well now we get pictures more often. We were getting pictures with the spinner back in the 70s and 80s and that was, I think, a picture a half an hour or an hour and now we can get them every 15 minutes.

Jennifer Rivers: My name is Jen Rivers and I’d like to ask Topper Shutt how is accurate weather data computed?

Topper Shutt/WUSA 9 Chief Meteorologist: Jennifer we use a lot of things; a lot of different things go into a forecast. We use GOES data. We want to know the starting point. See what’s happening now both the satellite GOES data, radar imagery, current conditions, and then look at model data. There is so much model data now. You have to know which models perform best under which situations. So, it’s often times a blend of current conditions, different model data, climatology and local knowledge.

Doug Pierce: I am Doug Pierce and I’d like to ask Topper Shutt how do you use satellite data to predict the weather?

Topper Shutt/WUSA 9 Chief Meteorologist: Doug, when the data comes from GOES, you’ve got infrared satellite and you’ve got visible. Ok, so infrared measures temperature. But the visible is kind of cool also for the same reason that as if you were in space and looking down and you see exactly what’s there. And in the winter time it’s kind of cool to put a visible on a clear day and say “Hey, see all the white…that’s not clouds, that’s snow cover”.

These satellites go a long way to protect life and property. They help keep you safe, I mean, they help us, you know, forecast the weather and so we can tell people what to do to stay safe.

If you came to me and said I am going to take one thing away from you, I would probably keep my GOES satellite.

Satellite meteorology is invaluable for determining dry lines; where the next line of thunderstorms will develop….so…yeah…don’t take my satellite away…

Launch countdown voice over: 1, 0…and lift off of the Delta IV rocket with GOES-P, completing a new weather satellite constellation, growing reliability for the forecaster.

Launching rocket sound.

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