What kind of technology do meteorologists use to help predict the weather?

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Satellites and radar are remote sensing tools that are vital because it allows meteorologists to see what the atmosphere is doing from a distance. They also need to know what the atmosphere is doing at all levels, which is why they send up weather balloons that track different meteorological variables as they rise, including temperature, wind, and moisture. Finally, they use computer models to input all these data and simulate future weather.

Also, ground based weather stations are used to monitor local and remote locations. In the oceans, buoys are often equipped with weather monitoring devices that transmit their data frequently to on shore weather services, usually government controlled agencies like the National Weather Service in the USA. With the buoy system in US waters, for example, storms approaching can be tracked in their North to South progression on the West Coast and South to North or Nor-Easters on the East Coast. Measurements like rain rate, barometric pressure, wind speed and direction, temperature and humidity from approaching storms can be graphed and charted from the buoys and paint of picture of intensifying or diminishing effects as the storms approach. This is only an example and certainly ground based systems can be used in the same manner.

Ground based units range wildly in cost, accuracy and reliability. Starting at under $100.00, a home temperature station or home forecast station can be fun for beginners and non-serious hobbyists. For the more serious observers, an accurate and reliable yet affordable station is an American made unit by Davis Instruments with 2 models in the $395-$595USD price range. More expensive stations are available that offer higher resolutions and sometimes greater accuracy, but these are generally used by industrial, government, or safety applications. They range in price from about $1,000-$8,000USD. For airports and helipads, weather stations with cloud ceiling, visibility, and wind shear warnings can easily exceed $100,000USD, complete with redundant back up systems.
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