NOAA 2004-R214
Contact: Marilu Trainor
NOAA News Releases 2004
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This year the meteorological community celebrates the 50th anniversary of operational numerical weather prediction, commonly known as computer weather models. These models are the basis for all weather and climate forecasts issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS). NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Operational numerical weather prediction began on July 1, 1954 with the establishment of the federal government’s Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit (JNWPU), which was staffed by members of the U.S. Weather Bureau (precursor to NWS), the U.S. Air Force, and the U.S. Navy. The JNWPU was a landmark collaborative approach between civilian and military services organized to pool resources for the best new computer technology for operational weather forecasting. The origins of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), and the U.S. Navy’s Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center (FNMOC) can all be traced to the JNWPU.

“Whether you are fighting a war or sending humanitarian efforts half way around the globe, navigating transatlantic cargo ships or dressing your child for a field trip at school, you are relying on weather forecasts based on sophisticated atmospheric and oceanic numerical models, the work pioneered at the JNWPU,” said John Jones, deputy director of NOAA National Weather Service.

During the American Meteorological Society’s (AMS) annual conference in Seattle, Wash., NOAA National Weather Service will commemorate this historic occasion on Monday, Jan. 12, 2004 at 6:00 p.m. in booth number 601 at the Seattle Convention Center. “This is an ideal venue to celebrate the pioneering developments in numerical weather prediction and the remarkable improvements in forecast skill that has supported the nation's economy and national defense over the last 50 years,” added Jones.

On June 14-17, 2004 the AFWA, AMS, FNMOC, NOAA and the National Weather Association will team up to host a Symposium on the 50th Anniversary of Operational Numerical Weather Prediction. The program will be held at the University of Maryland Inn and Conference Center located in College Park, Md. The symposium will feature an historical overview describing the early days of numerical weather prediction in the U.S., and the steps leading up to the formation of the unit. Other speakers will discuss how model data assimilation methods and computing have evolved, and examine the changes in how models are used in the forecast process. Sessions will include invited papers, poster and oral presentations, and panel discussions.

NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

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