The National Weather Service’s Predictive Tools and How They Protect Lives

The National Weather Service’s Predictive Tools and How They Protect Lives

The National Weather Service (NWS) is an agency within the United States government that is responsible for providing weather forecasts, warnings, and other meteorological information to the public. The NWS uses a variety of tools and technologies to predict and determine weather events, including:

Doppler Radar

One of the most important tools used by the NWS is Doppler radar. This type of radar allows meteorologists to detect precipitation and measure its velocity. Doppler radar is particularly useful for tracking severe weather events, such as thunderstorms and tornadoes. By analyzing the movement of the precipitation, meteorologists can determine if a storm is intensifying or weakening, and issue appropriate warnings to the public.

Satellite Imagery

Satellite imagery is another important tool used by the NWS to predict weather. By analyzing images of the earth’s surface, meteorologists can track weather patterns, such as the movement of storms and changes in cloud cover. This information is used to create forecasts of precipitation and other weather variables. Satellite imagery can be used to detect environmental factors that may influence weather patterns, such as changes in ocean temperatures or the presence of dust and pollution in the atmosphere. By incorporating satellite imagery into their forecasting models, the NWS is able to provide more accurate and detailed weather forecasts to the public.

Numerical Weather Prediction Models

The NWS also uses numerical weather prediction models to forecast weather conditions. These models are complex computer programs that use mathematical equations to simulate the behavior of the atmosphere. By inputting data from weather observations and other sources, meteorologists can create detailed forecasts of temperature, precipitation, and other weather variables.

Weather Balloons

Weather balloons are another important tool used by the NWS. These balloons are launched into the atmosphere and carry instruments that measure temperature, humidity, pressure, and other weather variables. By tracking the movement of the balloons and collecting data from the instruments, meteorologists can create a detailed vertical profile of the atmosphere.

Automated Surface Observing Systems

Automated surface observing systems (ASOS) are computerized weather stations that are used to collect data on temperature, wind speed, and other weather variables at the surface. ASOS stations are located at airports and other locations throughout the country, and provide real-time data that is used to create weather forecasts and issue warnings.


The National Weather Service plays a critical role in protecting lives and property by providing accurate and timely weather forecasts and warnings. The tools and technologies used by the NWS to predict and determine weather events are constantly evolving, allowing meteorologists to provide more detailed and accurate forecasts than ever before. By staying informed about the latest weather information and taking appropriate precautions, individuals and communities can stay safe during severe weather events.