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System to raise weather forecast accuracy in the works

SINGAPORE — The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) is developing a modelling system that will provide more accurate predictions on where and when heavy rainfall will hit areas in Singapore, eventually providing a longer lead time for various parties to react.

System to raise weather forecast accuracy in the works

The Meteorological Service Singapore hopes the new model can better predict small-scale localised thunderstorms that are common in Singapore all year round. Photo: Don Wong

SINGAPORE — The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) is developing a modelling system that will provide more accurate predictions on where and when heavy rainfall will hit areas in Singapore, eventually providing a longer lead time for various parties to react.

The Singv Model, adapted from the Met Office’s unified modelling system in the United Kingdom, plans to narrow the scope of weather data supplied by global met services and incorporate local weather data to provide a more accurate forecast.

Speaking to reporters yesterday on the sidelines of a media tour of facilities at Changi Airport that are used to observe, monitor and forecast the weather, MSS director-general Wong Chin Ling noted that, while the model is not entirely new, it is one that had not really been tried in the tropics.

“We hope the model is actually able to better predict convective-scale — (or) small-scale — localised thunderstorms that are common in Singapore all year round. These are the kind of weather systems we encounter,” she said.

With more accurate forecasts, Dr Chris Gordon, Director for the Centre for Climate Research Singapore, noted that it would also help in contingency planning for floods here, for instance.

Ms Wong added that national water agency PUB would benefit from the longer lead times the forecasts could provide.

The current lead time is between 20 and 30 minutes, and the MSS hopes to eventually improve it to a few hours with the model.

At present, global forecasts can be produced at 12-hour intervals and at coarser spatial resolutions of about 25km — that is, providing weather data, such as temperature, humidity and wind conditions, for every 25km.

The model aims to provide weather data for every 1.5km on the island.

This could mean that, instead of forecasting rainfall over central parts of Singapore, the model could further pin-point it to an area such as Toa Payoh, said Ms Wong.

Likewise, Dr Gordon noted that a 12-hour forecast might miss out thunderstorms that come and go in a few hours.

Thus, to produce more regular forecasts, local weather data — from weather radar and automatic weather stations, for instance — will be included in the model.

Dr Gordon added that the model is expected to produce useful forecasts in the next one to two years, as the team continues to build on its ability to assimilate data.

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