Weather forecast models help develop flu forecasts

December 7th, 2012 at 8:23 am by under Weather

The FluView Map depicts the geographic spread of the flu.  Image Credit: Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

The FluView Map, pictured here, isn’t the typical weather map you see on our Weather Blog.  Instead, it depicts the geographic spread of the flu.

I’m incorporating this in my post today because researchers are currently working on ways to take data like this  and create “flu forecasts” to help warn the public about peaks in the flu season and provide enough notice to get people vaccinated and protected before the flu hits their area hard.

The researchers have created these new flu forecast models using some of the same concepts on which our weather forecast models are based.  The models take current year flu data and meld it together with data from past flu seasons to help determine how the flu will affect different portions of the country.

The initial run using this technique, which was focused on New York City, yielded impressive results…correctly predicting a peak in the flu 7 weeks in advance.

The next step will be to try this technique with data for other cities to see if it can show the same skill at flu prediction.

To learn more, you can view the complete article on the topic here.

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