Report Makes Case for Funding Longer-Range Weather Forecasting

Feb 10, 2021 at 8:00pm


Sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasts could someday give western water managers as much as a two-year head start in planning for either a wet or dry winter.

The scientific methodology already exists for what is known as S2S precipitation forecasting, but putting it to work requires improving weather and climate models and buying enough super-computer time to run the models to test them.

Now, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) report could spur Congress to approve the $15 million annual investment necessary to translate S2S forecasting from concept to implementation through pilot projects in the West.

An advocacy effort is underway to fund the NOAA report to Congress and includes the Atmospheric River Coalition, of which ACWA is a member, as well as ACWA member agencies Sonoma Water, Yuba Water Agency and Orange County Water District. The Western States Water Council is also supporting the call for funding. The idea is to make S2S as much a priority as improvements in hurricane forecasting on the East Coast.

The Western States Water Council and supporting agencies will work together on a support letter that will be distributed during February, when Congress will start considering funding requests, said Brad Sherwood, ACWA Region 1 Chair and Sonoma Water’s Division Manager for Community and Government Affairs.

“It’s a water management tool that will benefit every ACWA member,” Sherwood said, explaining that it will dovetail with the ability to apply Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations, or FIRO, which allows for flexibility in reservoir storage in coordination with weather forecasts.

“FIRO is micro water management where as S2S is macro water management,” Sherwood said.

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