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Feb. 10, 2005 - NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, successfully put into operations this week the newest generation of weather and climate supercomputers. Now, for the first time, NOAA’s National Weather Service has three systems working together for the protection of life, property and the national economy in the United States and its territories. NOAA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The three systems consist of a primary system (Blue), a research and development system (Red), and backup system (White). The primary and backup operating systems ensure a reliable delivery of operational weather and climate forecasts with no interruption in services. The research and development system accelerates the transition of new research results into the operational models and provides for a more rapid improvement of all forecast products delivered to the public and private sectors.

“Together, Red, White and Blue serve as a major component of the Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS),” said retired Navy Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher, Ph.D., under secretary of commerce of oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The new system allows NOAA to keep pace with model development and current scientific breakthroughs to protect our communities and serve society’s needs for weather, climate and water information.”

“Implementing improvements to numerical weather prediction capability and extending the lead time for extreme weather events requires increasing levels of computational power. Literally, we are going from making 450 billion calculations per second to 1.3 trillion calculations per second,” said Brig. Gen. David L. Johnson, U.S. Air Force (Ret.), director of NOAA’s National Weather Service.

The increase in computing power gives NOAA the ability to run higher resolution models with more sophisticated applied physics and use these models in the prediction of potential severe and extreme weather events such as hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, and winter storms. “The advanced computers are critical to advancing NOAA’s ability to make ever-increasingly accurate weather forecasts and climate outlooks,” said Dr. Louis W. Uccellini, director, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction.

The new supercomputers were delivered as part of the $180 million, nine-year contract with IBM. Red and Blue are housed at the IBM facility located in Gaithersburg, Md.; White is housed at a NASA facility located in Fairmont, W.Va.

The NOAA National Weather Service is the primary source of weather data, forecasts and warnings for the United States and its territories. The NOAA National Weather Service operates the most advanced weather and flood warning and forecast system in the world, helping to protect lives and property and enhance the national economy.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources.

Media contact:

Carmeyia Gillis, National Centers for Environmental Prediction: (301) 763-8000, ext. 7163

Related Web sites:

NOAA’s National Weather Service:
NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction:


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  Page last modified: 11-Mar-2010 9:35 AM