NOAA Rolls Out New Hurricane Forecasting System

Published on May 26th, 2016

Picture the possibility: a weather warning system so accurate it pinpoints the reach and intensity of a storm surge from an impending hurricane days before the flooding hits.

After years of planning and testing, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is rolling out such a system for the upcoming hurricane season that officially begins June 1st for the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. A more detailed version is expected to come online next year that could predict storm surges even before a system forms.

The technology is one of two milestone projects being deployed on a wide scale this year. Government forecasters hope it not only will save lives but give the public more confidence that an evacuation order should be taken seriously.

“The goal is to increase the chances that when people are instructed by their emergency managers to evacuate, they go,” Richard Knabb, director of the National Hurricane Center, told a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation subcommittee on May 25.

The other project is a disposable drone known as the Coyote. It was first dropped into the eye of Hurricane Edouard off the Atlantic Coast in 2014, providing scientists an unprecedented trove of data on the movement and intensity of the storm.

That experiment was so successful that NOAA plans to use a small fleet of the Raytheon-made aircraft (weighing 13 pounds and sporting a 58-inch wingspan) for the 2016 hurricane season that officially kicks off next week.

NOAA is scheduled to release its hurricane forecast Friday, May 27. But one private firm, the Weather Company, is projecting the busiest hurricane season since 2012, including three major hurricanes. – USA Today, full report

MORE: An area of showers and thunderstorms near the Bahamas has the potential to develop into a tropical storm and impact part of the East Coast of the United States during Memorial Day weekend. The next name on the list of Atlantic tropical systems for 2016 is Bonnie, following Hurricane Alex from January. Full report.

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