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The National Weather Service (NWS) makes the results from its Global Forecast System model (GFS) available for download as GRIB2 files.

While accessing current (or recent) forecasts is straight-forward, I am looking for the archived forecasts over at least the last year, better multiple years back for the purpose of statistical analysis of predominant weather patterns in certain areas.

Does anybody know how to access this information?

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It all depends on the region you are interested on. For the North America region, you could use the North American Regional Reanalysis (NARR). NARR footprint

NARR is a "high resolution combined model and assimilated dataset. It covers 1979 to near present and is provided 8-times daily, daily and monthly". The best and easiest way to access the data is through NOMADS. There you will find data in several different formats (netCDF, GRIB...) and it has a resolution of around 32km.

If your interest is in global data, then you could try the NCEP/NCAR Reanalysis. It is a global reanalysis of the atmosphere from 1948 to the present with a resolution of 2.5 degrees. There is also the NCEP/DOE reanalysis with a similar footprint. I think you can get both of them from NOMADS.

All these products are reanalysis (therefore not forecast) products. If your interest is in forecast products, then you can use the North American Mesoscale (NAM) product. It has a resolution of 12km and it is available through NOMADS. The model they are currently running is a version of the Weather Research & Forecasting - Nonhydrostatic Mesoscale Model (WRF-NMM).

There is a complete list of NOAA model products available and a brief description of each in the NOAA NOMADS page.

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NCDC provides archived GFS data starting from 2004 at NOMADS. They break up the data into "Historical" (2004-2005), "Historical and near real-time" (2005-2015) and analysis-only (2004-latest full month). There are various data access methods provided on the linked web page.

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    $\begingroup$ -is this only for North America ? $\endgroup$ – gansub Dec 29 '15 at 1:05
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    $\begingroup$ @gansub The GFS is Global. $\endgroup$ – casey Dec 29 '15 at 1:48

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