IBM’s Using Their Weather-Predicting Supercomputer To Power An iPad App


Thanks to IBM's supercomputer and an iPad app, you'll never be surprised by the weather again.

In Phoenix, Arizona, rain is a commodity scarcer than a purple elephant slowly lumbering down Main Street. Consequently, people go straight up loco when their iPhone’s weather app predicts rain. Most of the time the hours sadly glide past and the clouds and precipitation never show up. A collective mourning rumbles across the city, and meteorologists cower under their desks, ashamed at their disastrous predictions. They never can quite seem to predict the rain.

It’s sad that we can put a man on the moon but still suck at predicting the weather. IBM’s mind-blowing “Deep Thunder” iPad Weather app is seeking to change all that though, by becoming the most insanely accurate weather predicting tool ever.

How accurate? We’re talking about accurate to within a single square mile and much more detailed than any other current weather forecast can provide. The Deep Thunder iPad app takes advantage of IBM’s parallel processing supercomputing system. This is the same system that beat chess world champion Garry Kasparov in 1997. IBM’s system achieves it’s incredibly detailed forecast by using a combination of public weather data from organization like NASA, the U.S. Geological Survey, Weatherbug, and some of IBM’s own weather sensors on the ground.

Weather forecasting doesn’t sound exciting, but what we’ve found is that our system allows for an unprecedented granular look at incoming weather over an 84-hour period in a specific location, down to within a square mile. Imagine you’re part of a crew going around fixing utility lines, you can take this app with you as you’re doing repairs and see: ‘Do I really want to be up in a bucket at this time if there’s going to be strong winds?’ It allows for improved scheduling and planning of important work.”

Or in my case, I can look at the app and say, “Do I really want to lay by the pool in 2 hours when it’s 115°F? No thanks. Let’s go get some ice cream instead.”

IBM has been using the Deep Thunder app in conjunction with governments for a couple of years now. Rio De Janerio entered into a partnership with IBM in December 2010 to use Deep Thunder to create a weather prediction center to prepare people for flash floods and also hope to use it heavily during the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. As of right now there’s no word on when  IBM will be bringing Deep Thunder to consumers, but hopefully it’s soon. I know some local news meteorologists who could use it.

[via Talking Points Memo]