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KMA to upgrade weather forecast system

The Korea Meteorological Administration will upgrade the weather radar network to enhance its forecast accuracy by 70 percent, the state weather agency announced Thursday.

In a press conference to mark a two-year-anniversary of the inauguration of Ken Crawford, vice administrator of KMA, the No. 2 of the agency said futuristic services will be implemented to provide accurate and comprehensive information for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

“A dual polarized radar will be adopted to raise the accuracy of forecasting the precipitation ― we will be able to reduce 70 percent of the errors in predicting the amount of rainfall. A village-scale forecasting model will be developed using the supercomputer center in Ochang, North Chungcheong Province, for ‘warnings on forecast.’

“Foundations will be in place to develop an urban weather information, forecast and warning system critical to public safety and quality of life in the mega cities of Korea during a period of rapid climate change,” said Crawford.

The KMA will also launch a National Climate Data Center to jump-start the meteorological industry and make the data “understandable, usable and accessible. Crawford has also pushed to adopt “science and operations officers,” who will bridge the meteorologists and administrators.

“The advancement will bring up the KMA to a new level,” a KMA official said.

Crawford flatly denied that the agency has been incompetent in providing accurate information about the massive downpour which pounded the country for the past couple of months. While the agency has been praised for correctly predicting rain-or-shine days, its forecast on the amount of rainfall has been poor. When the nation reeled from more than 500 milliliters of downpour, the agency was criticized for its management.

“According to a report, on a 0-1 scale, weather agencies around the world were marked 0.2 with their progress in forecasting rainfall of more than 400 milliliters. In case of precipitation of more than 500 milliliters, the chances are less than 10 percent,” he said. “The forecast of heavy rain is one big problem among meteorologists,” he said.

Crawford admitted that reading and analyzing Korean climate was tougher than expected.

“Forecasting in Korea is much harder than forecasting in Oklahoma,” the U.S.-native said. “There are three oceans, seashores, hills at every ear and a demanding public. But the weather has too many dividends. With a slight shift of wind, which heavily affects rain, it could change so much. It is an impossible problem,” he said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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