🔎 European vs the American Model.


➡️ A wee insight into weather models and our job as professional analysts.


Talk to any passionate weather enthusiast or professional analyst/meteorologist and often the debate comes up – what’s best? What model do we look at?


The American Global Forecast System (GFS) model and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecast (ECMWF) model (often referred to as the “Euro”) are global forecast models often used by professional analysts and meteorologists. There are a range of other models we use too to help guide and provide extra insight especially during weather extremes.


When it comes to covering weather on a weekly basis however, the Euro and GFS model are the two main ‘players’ and will receive the headlines for most weather events 1 to 10 days out.


At Canterbury Weather Updates we use all the models though in recent years at a professional level we have found more consistency in longer-range computer-generated numbers and analysis with the European model. An interesting opinion not shared by all our friends in the US – as you can imagine.


This doesn’t mean we don’t take into account what GFS is forecasting it’s purely we’ve become very strong at predicting the strengths and weakness of the European model.


Some interesting points.


-A number of GFS models have fantastic illustrations and graphics; perhaps more so than Euro models.


-Like any analysis in any field the best advice is to use all available data and maps and and become highly efficient at picking out strengths and weakness of each model.


-Both models have their distinct weakness and strengths. It might be around ‘timing’, moisture levels, wind strength even nor-west spill over rain. No model is perfect.


-Some models predict weather with more accuracy in some countries. It might be that the US model for example provides a very accurate guide in the US, but perhaps not so much in New Zealand.


-Both models will have occasional nightmares and get it wrong. It’s our job as professional analysts to see it coming – see those model ‘flops’. A major advantage we have in Canterbury is extensive knowledge of the region; often providing a distinct advantage of computer generated ‘numbers’ and of course providing you with the ‘words’ to make it all very clear & personalised.


-Consistency is what we’re after and occasionally both models are on the same ‘wave’. Usually 2-3 days out GFS have made the switch to Euro analysis. GFS with superior graphics within 64 hours may provide an edge of European models – a personal preference for many professional forecasters.


Our advice for an weather enthusiast – it’s not really about what model is best. Both will have there good and bad days. The key is to get use to picking out the strengths and weaknesses of each model, each model ‘run’ and you’ll find you have higher accuracy and success.


We hope you find that little insight interesting.


CWU Team