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Major technology upgrade gives PredictWind faster forecast updates

by Zoe Hawkins on 17 Sep 2012
Jon Bilger (right) product testing Predictwind aboard then Volvo Ocean Race leader Telefonica, with skipper Iker Martinez, during the VOR Practice Day on the Waitemata. © Richard Gladwell www.photosport.co.nz

Popular wind forecast site PredictWind has achieved dramatic speed efficiencies by adopting Amazon Web Services’ Cloud computing to deliver high-resolution wind forecasts for almost any part of the globe.

Wherever you are right now, look out the window because chances are that somewhere within a kilometre of your location, there is a corresponding arrow on PredictWind's map, that will give you a very accurate prediction of wind direction and wind speed, for that location, for every hour over the next 24 hours.

And now, thanks to a move to advanced Cloud computing, that data will be even more accurate and timely. In fact, the breeze you feel on your face right now, will be combined with data from Satellite, Land, Air and Sea observations, to produce a detailed forecast that is available on your smartphone or computer, in one to twelve hours’
time.

From sailing and fishing, to camping or motorcycling, the increased speed with which this data is now delivered will help you to plan your race, expedition, event or industrial activity with even greater precision and safety, says PredictWind founder Jon Bilger of the company that commercialized America's Cup wind forecast technology and made it available at the highest possible resolution.

By co-opting Amazon Web Services for its Cloud computing power, PredictWind has access to almost six times more computing power with which to process its Volvo Ocean Race-proven weather models.

'Ultimately, that means that our customers get forecasts up to nine hours sooner because instead of splitting the globe into four segments, we can process the forecast for the entire planet at once,' says Jon Bilger.

Jon Bilger says that the investment in computing power is absorbed by the company’s ever-expanding customer base, and it also means that because of Amazon Web Service’s back up systems, the service is virtually failure-proof.

'PredictWind led the way when we launched the highest resolution weather model on the Web, and this is another step ahead. Things can change quickly in a maritime environment and getting the highest resolution forecast in the shortest time possible is what makes the difference between a good and a bad forecast.'

PredictWind’s forecasts are updated every twelve hours and at a one square kilometre resolution, they are the most detailed available.

Also as a result of the move to Cloud computing, PredictWind’s global forecast at 100km resolution has been extended from nine days to twelve days, and increased from 100km resolution to 50km resolution. www.predictwind.com

PredictWind can be accessed via the popular website or an iPhone/Android App. The technology was originally developed for the America's Cup and re-proven in the Volvo Ocean Race. It takes weather observations sourced from tens of thousands of locations around the world via land stations, aircraft, shipping and satellites that are submitted to the World Meterological Organisation and compiled by various agencies into snapshots of the earth's atmosphere, called Initial Conditions Files.

Starting with a 60km resolution model forecasts (imagine dividing up the atmosphere into many 60kmx60km square regions), the model centers on a local area, commencing with these initial condition files and stepping forward in time to create a five day forecast. For each 60kmx60km region, the model uses many complex equations to calculate all meteorological fields, such as wind, temperature, humidity, pressure, rain and their interaction. This process is then repeated for the 8km model run, though it is 'nudged' by the 60km model run.

Finally the 1km resolution model is completed, which is 'nudged' by the 8km model run. This process is repeated automatically every 12 hours for both initial sources (i.e. four forecasts every day). There is no historical data involved, so each 12 hour forecast is independent from the previous.

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