In this satellite handout from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Hurricane Rina churns October 26, 2011 in the Caribbean Sea.

A new study has concluded serious weather events cost the U.S. of $485 billion annually.

That conclusion from a 2011 study by the National Center for Atmospheric Research has led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to employ supercomputers to deliver faster and more accurate daily and long-range weather predictions.

Under a new agreement, which continues a 10-year contractual relationship, IBM Corp. will provide new high-performance computing technology and services to NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). IBM will also furnish a primary and a backup data center, application support, systems administration and program management for NOAA, the primary source of weather warnings and forecasts in the U.S.

NCEP will use the system for weather and climate modeling, which includes managing, analyzing and visualizing huge amounts of data.

The accuracy of NOAA’s weather forecasts and the ability to monitor severe weather such as tornadoes and hurricanes depend on computing system performance, officials said.

IBM’s high-performance supercomputing system — which will be appreciably faster, more reliable and scalable — is “needed for improved decision support services in building a weather-ready nation,” said Louis Uccellini, director of NCEP.

NOAA and IBM will implement the system, called the Weather and Climate Operational Supercomputing System, in two phases. The first will be deployed in the third quarter of this year, said Jay Pecce, federal client executive for Commerce, Energy and NASA at IBM.

“This new system is going to increase the capacity and capability by a factor of 1.5 in the first phase,” Pecce said. “In the second phase it’s going to increase by factor of about 5. That’s very significant when it comes to putting out on-time products of higher fidelity.”

The supercomputing architecture will incorporate IBM’s newest iDataPlex servers augmented by IBM’s high-capacity disk storage system, officials said. In addition, IBM’s General Parallel File System will supply high-speed access to data-intensive applications. To ensure maximum uptime, the system will be configured with “hot spares” that can be switched into operation in the event a key component fails.

Ultimately, the new supercomputing technology will help NOAA make better weather predictions, which translates into better preparedness for adverse conditions, said Todd Ramsey, general manager of IBM’s U.S. Federal division.