By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A smarter computer is promising better predictions of dangerous weather.

Alex DeMetrick reports that faster information is downloading right here in Maryland.

The old joke about the weather changing every 20 minutes in Maryland is no joke when time is needed to get out of the way of the worst kinds of weather.

NOAA’s Weather and Climate Prediction Center in College Park is working to increase that warning time. A new super computer upgrade is making it the forecasting center for the nation.

“That then can take all of that information and put it all together into essentially a one-stop shop,” said Senator Barbara Mikulski.

Mikulski was a major backer of the $36 million computer upgrade. It ties together data from space to below sea level, creating weather and climate models on a vast scale.

“To drive results down to finer and finer scale so the meaning of a forecast is more directly understandable to people in the affected area,” said NOAA Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan.

This new computer would have been able to accurately predict Hurricane Isabel’s path, as well as the derecho seemingly came out of nowhere and knocked out power to tens of thousands of Marylanders.

The upgrade increases the super computer’s power by four times.

“Faster computation, better models, finer scale—all are really critical,” Sullivan said.

“Those three things will be absolutely critical to helping save lives, save communities and save livelihoods,” Mikulski said.

The boost in computing power is the result of two separate super computers in Virginia and Florida tied into the NOAA center in Maryland.