BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - It's not often that all the elements come together to produce a mega-storm. Potentially, that is what some of the east will be dealing with next week.
On Thursday, western New York has record warmth, but well over a thousand miles away, Hurricane Sandy just plowed through Cuba. That's where the problem lies.
The daily weather balloon launch that takes place in Buffalo will play a big role in forecasting this storm. We're one of about one hundred sites nationally. It's the meat and potatoes of the forecast process.
Because of the severity of this threat, the National Weather Service has beefed up the schedule from two to four launches daily in order to increase computer forecast accuracy.
According to Aaron Reynolds from the Buffalo National Weather Service Office, "Once we hit the top of the hour here, we're going to launch the balloon and let it go and it's going to basically head up to hit 100,000 feet in the atmosphere."
On its way up, the instrument package attached the balloon transmits valuable data back down to the ground.
"We'll collect all the variables that we need, temperature, pressure, and it also triangulates wind, so we'll get the wind variables," Reynolds explained.
From there it's sent to the IBM supercomputers outside of Washington, DC. These computers perform almost 70 trillion calculations per second.
"All the weather data that we have available goes into what are called computer models, so the beauty of having a weather balloon is it gives us, rather than data at the surface, gives us a three dimensional depiction of what's going on," added Dave Zaff, Science Operations Officer at the Buffalo National Weather Service.
As the storm moves toward the northeast, there is a great deal of uncertainty. Of course the 4 Warn weather team will be closely tracking its progress for you.
Depending on the track of the storm and how cold air is drawn into it, there exists a possibility of some snow, at least on the highest hills, but that's not all.
"We're also concerned about the possibility of heavy rain producing some possible flooding on the area rivers," Zaff said.
There will be an extra 586 weather balloon soundings for this weather event. In order to put this storm in perspective, the high seas forecast off the New England coast is for average waves of 20 to 30 feet. This storm could turn into quite a doozy.
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