Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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Roger writes: I never would have expected to hear you admit to forsaking diagnostics for prognostics, but at least I have to give you credit for the courage to do so.

What brought this about? Was it bedazzlement by the increasing precision (and accuracy) of the progs in most situations? Distraction? A cost/benefit argument in terms of time spent? Some other factor?

I'm trying to grasp how attaining the most thorough possible grasp of the current state of the atmosphere (i.e., via all available forms of analysis, manual and digital) can become so unimportant to predicting future conditions. [If nothing else, it's a troubling phenomenon I might need to explain to Al Moller--a world-renowned chart analyst in his own right--when I see him in a couple of days...and understanding this trend better sure would help.] The name Snellman keeps coming to mind, for reasons that you, more than most, would understand.

This is a battle I'm fighting but losing at my unnamed workplace also, where upper-air analysis (and even high-quality surface analysis at times) seems to be losing ground fast to the tantalizing glimmer (or is it addictive drug?) of ever-more variegated and precise forecast progs. Will I be the last forecaster on earth doing hand analysis by the time I retire?

Am I a Luddite already in my early 40s, or does diagnostic understanding still mean anything? Please help me sort this through...
Roger - I think that you let your concerns with the current situation at "where you work" influence the way that you interpreted my tip-o-the-hat to the large-scale models. I certainly didn't forsake the importance of diagnostics - I never will. However, I do feel that the model analyses have become so good that they can help one diagnose the current situation. This is especially true at large scales - you'll note that during past couple of years during the winter I've been looking far afield at features, especially over the Pacific, that I would be hard-pressed to evaluate with just the observations. Time and space scales always play into the issue of how important diagnostics are - where you work they are critical and probably always will be; here in Arizona in the summer they are critical. In the winter, they become critical at short time scales - especially if we want to focus on the small scale details that impact people. To help clarify my post I added a bit to it - especially emphasis to key portions. Thanks for the comment and I'll add more to this initial response! Bob

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