Tools Used by Meteorologist to Predict Weather

Tools Used by Meteorologist to Predict Weather


Weathermen and women have been trying to predict the weather for years using various tools and instruments at their disposal. Mother nature does not disclose her secrets easily. In some corners of the earth, meteorologist are still relying on weather balloons and pibal theodolites to track their movements but in most of the developed world the tools used are much more advanced. Below are some of the tools employed for the task of weather prediction.

Doppler radar

When it comes to severe storms, meteorologists use a doppler radar. This radar tracking system is able to gather velocity data various kinds of storms, any airborne particles, and even how the thunderstorm clouds rotate, as well as the strength and direction of the wind.


A disdrometer is an example of optical alignment instrument used by meteorologists. This instrument uses light to measure droplet sizes of precipitation from a distance. It measures the size distribution and the velocity of hydrometeors in the meteorological parlance, most commonly known as raindrops.


A meteorological radiosonde helps predict weather by acquiring upper-air data and sending this data to a ground based receiver. Radiosondes are tied to weather balloons and are released twice a day in 92 locations around the United States. Its trip usually lasts about two hours and during that time, it collects data like wind speed, wind direction, air pressure, relative humidity, and temperature. Meteorologists then use this to predict the weather in the coming days with the help of data modelling.

Satellite data

Weather satellites are loaded with custom optical equipment used by scientists to analyze our weather. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service operates about three kinds of weather satellites. This includes deep space satellites, geostationary satellites, and polar orbiting satellites.


The NOAA also uses the Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputer System (WCOSS), which is mainly responsible for modern forecasting. It has a 5.78 petaflop computing capacity, which is enough processing power to conduct quadrillions of calculations every second. NOAA’s supercomputers are so powerful that they can process data six million times more than your average computer at home.

Automated surface-observing systems

Automated surface-observing systems are tasked to monitor the Earth’s surface for varying weather conditions. In the United States alone, there are over 900 locations that are able to record surface visibility, temperature, precipitation, and other sky conditions.

Advanced weather information processing system

Another tool used by the NOAA is the advanced weather information processing system. This is a computer processing system that has the ability to combine the the data from all these different tools and turn them into a graphical interface so that scientists and meteorologists are better able to analyze the data gathered. Because of this, weather forecasts become more and more accurate.

All of these tools are important, and each serves its own purpose. Scientists and meteorologists have stepped way beyond the use of digital theodolites to measure weather balloons and now rely heavily on the gathered data from multiple resources so that they’ll be able to inform and warn the public regarding any need for preparation or even evacuation in instances of hazardous weather. While weather can typically change drastically to the untrained eye, these tools help us create more accurate and faster forecasts than ever before.

Edward Powell