How the coronavirus is affecting weather forecasts

Radar and clouds background

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Dozens of tornadoes ripped through portions of Mississippi and Alabama and that was just the beginning of the United States’ severe weather season.

Forecasters rely on several tools to keep people safe from storms, the Coronavirus could make accurate weather forecasting harder.

- Advertisement -

The Coronavirus has shutdown businesses, halted the way we live our lives, and created problems for meteorologists around the world. Your local meteorologist and National Weather Service rely on temperature and wind data gathered by thousands of planes flying overhead. The problem, many of those flights have been cancelled, people aren’t traveling as much to help stop the virus’ spread.

Jonathan Guseman is a Warning Coordination Meteorologist at the National Weather Service in Jackson Kentucky and explains why airplanes are so important in the data collection process,  “as they ascend and descend throughout the sky and the atmosphere we get upper air data from those so it’s really nice to be able to get that in terms of what’s not only happening surface of the atmosphere but what’s happening aloft.”

Meteorologist use computer models to assist them forecasting, you may have heard of the GFS, or NAM from your local broadcaster. One popular computer model used for forecasting is the European model or the EURO; this particular model showed an 81% decrease in data collection from airplanes due to the Coronavirus.

That all important data from the airplanes goes into models, Guseman explains, “so that data really goes into a lot are models that go into we use to predict the weather and also as we are looking at severe weather as we gauge the atmosphere get look at what’s going on aloft and off the ground.”

So while the Coronavirus is changing the way meteorologist forecast, National Weather Service’s Jackson, Kentucky office says he hasn’t noticed any major problems yet, “fortunately, we haven’t seen a huge drop-off in that data in the upper atmosphere a lot of that is being supplemented by satellites.”

The National Weather Service is considered an essential service to the government and will continue to operate so that the public can receive daily forecasts. Guseman adds they will stay focused during the pandemic, adding reports from storm spotters help keep people safe from storms.

Previous articleRoad work, lane closures set for two Jessamine County roads
Next articleWATCH: For these high schoolers, the ‘prom’ must go on
Meteorologist Justin Roth weather forecasts can be seen weekend evenings on ABC 36 at 6:30 PM at 11 PM. Justin will also forecast the weather at 10 PM (MyKY 36.2) three days a week. Justin comes to WTVQ from the NBC affiliate in Casper, WY and interned in Knoxville, TN all where he gained the understandings of forecasting mountainous terrains and rapidly changing environments. His forecasts are for YOUR day and making YOUR life just a bit easier. Justin was born and raised in Saint Louis, Missouri, and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Meteorology from Western Illinois University with Minors in Broadcasting and Mathematics. His interest in weather began at a young age when his parents gave him a book, ‘First Field Guide To Weather’ for his Birthday, ever since then weather has been a passion of his from forecasting to chasing tornadoes. When not forecasting the weather, Justin enjoys exploring new places and anything outdoors. He’s a self-proclaimed history buff and loves rooting for favorite sport teams, The St. Louis Cardinals and Blues. Please feel free to share any outdoor picture you’d like to share with him send them his way at And be sure to follow him: Twitter - @JustinRothWx Instagram - @JustinRothWx