Besides a redesign, the most interesting part of the updated Weather experience for Pixel is “Google Nowcast” for real-time 12-hour precipitation forecasts. Google today detailed the MetNet-3 deep learning model behind it, which is also powering weather features in Google Search.
Created by Google Research and Google DeepMind, MetNet-3 – which follows MetNet (from 2020) and MetNet-2 (2021) – can provide “high resolution predictions up to 24 hours ahead for a larger set of core variables, including precipitation, surface temperature, wind speed and direction, and dew point.”
However, as implemented today, Google is only forecasting 12 hours ahead. On Pixel phones, it appears as a “starting soon” card that you can scroll through underneath the Froggy animation. After debuting on the Pixel Tablet, Fold, and 8, it’s now available for older Google phones. It will presumably come to all other Android devices in the future.
In mobile Search, it appears as a suggestion like “Light to moderate rain from 9:30 AM continuing beyond 3:00 PM.”
Google takes in radar, satellite, numerical weather prediction assimilations, and other data sources to “constantly create full forecasts” every few minutes.
Some data sources, such as weather observations and radar, have characteristics similar to a continuous stream of data, while others, such as NWP assimilations, are similar to batches of data. The system is able to align all of these data sources spatially and temporally, allowing the model to create an updated understanding of the next 12 hours of precipitation at a very high cadence.
Nowcast is available in the contiguous United States and 27 countries in Europe, with the latter coming online following the initial launch in June.
Google says MetNet-3 “has the potential to create new possibilities for weather…
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