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The accuracy of weather reports has been a standing joke ever since the first meteorologist delivered his initial prognostication. However, comedians may soon need to update their routines. An armada of satellites and floating sensors has joined land-based weather stations in streaming terabytes of daily atmospheric readings.
A new generation of supercomputers is making sense of this flood of data, including the world's fastest, Japan's 35 TeraFLOP Earth Simulator, and the eighth fastest, the 3.34 TeraFLOP Linux cluster at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Forecast Systems Laboratory.
But just as important as improving forecasting accuracy is placing this information in the hands of the organizations and individuals who need it to guide their planning, whether it involve coordinating disaster relief or simply deciding whether to go to the beach that day.
Leading the field is The Weather Channel (TWC), a part of Norfolk, Va.-based Landmark Communications, Inc. To improve its ability to rapidly adjust services to meet customer needs that change with the weather, TWC consolidated its mix of storage devices into a Storage Area Network with equipment from Hitachi Data Systems.
"We have achieved significant 'soft' savings, including not only scalability and reliability, but also in effective utilization of personnel in the areas of storage management and reduced churn in the organization," says Vicki Hamilton, vice president of Shared Services and IT Operations.