They always send weather baloons up at weather stations, where do you think they get the isobars, isotherms and all that other good stuff? The NOGAPS and UKMET are yes trending to the stronger side with the ridge but then you have the GFS/AVN with the weaker side to it. My forecast is a hybird of the UKMET and the GFS because the GFS likes to break down ridges out of no where and cause a whole bunch of problems. The UKMET is has a general rightward bias and sometimes makes ridges stronger then they normally are but it is an overall good model with thermodynamics and everything.
The big differance is that this time, they are taking measurements from special flights, not the 'normal' hurricane hunter flights, but flights dispatched well north of the hurricane in the area where the hight currently affecting the storm and south west into the 'nose' of the high. They are trying to measure the strength and shape of the high way out over the water in addition to the usual baloon soundings from lan. This is being reported on several TV stations so I give his report credibility.
A forecast is NOT a promise!
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