Three young weather enthusiasts in Pennsylvania have developed a new computer model that can predict visually striking sunsets.
As a meteorology student at Pennsylvania State University, Jacob DeFlitch did photography work for the school and loved capturing images of sunsets, but was often frustrated by his inability to predict when the sky would look its best. In early October, DeFlitch and two friends, Ben Reppert and Steve Hallett, began discussing the possibility of using scientific methods and data to predict beautiful sunsets. Before long, their conversations led to the creation of a SunsetWX, a computer model that runs forecasting and atmospheric data from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration through an algorithm developed by Hallett.
The algorithm looks for variables such as cloud height and atmospheric moisture, which contribute to the quality of a sunset, and then generates a map that looks a lot like a traditional weather map. Areas that can expect a better-looking sunset are shaded red while areas unlikely to see a good sunset are shaded blue.
DeFlitch notes the algorithm already has been refined several times since its development, and the maps now include sunrise forecasts as well as sunsets.
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