How a lack of air travel could impact weather forecasting

Does the accuracy of weather models go down if the number of flights is lower?

How a lack of air travel could impact weather forecasting
There has been a sharp decline the past few weeks... (Source: WSFA 12 News)

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - We are all well aware that the Coronavirus is impacting our lives in many ways - some are noticeable and others you might not think about.

Every time a plane leaves the ground, they gather important data information from the sky. According to NOAA we see more than 3,500 commercial air crafts every year in the United States provide more than 250 million weather observations.

For every flight that is taken, weather data is collected to help forecast!
For every flight that is taken, weather data is collected to help forecast! (Source: WSFA 12 News)

Data like temperature, humidity, winds, etc. all get collected during flights and help computer models create forecasts. So if the number of daily flights has dropped dramatically both domestically and internationally, does that mean the accuracy for model data has decreased as well?

Some may say yes, some say no, some say it’s just a theory. Logically, you would think with less data going into our forecast models that the accuracy could if it hasn’t already start to decline; so far, there has been a 50% drop in flights across the United States and an even bigger drop Europe, roughly 80%.

There has been a sharp decline the past few weeks...
There has been a sharp decline the past few weeks... (Source: WSFA 12 News)

That is something that could continue to play a role in our forecasts here; definitely something we’ll have to watch going forward as long as more planes are grounded.

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