Drones and hi-def models wait next storm
Rapid intensification is one of the big unpredictable threats of landfalling tropical cyclones — so far.
Researchers have a few new tools waiting to gauge the next storm to arrive.
The most dramatic one might be the trendiest: high def computer modeling.
The HWARF forecasting model brings in real-time Doppler radar, satellite and other readings to create what is essentially a rolling three-dimensional image of the moving storm.
The rich imaging gives forecasters a better read on what’s going on with temperatures, winds and convection in the heart of the storm, the place where sensors previously couldn’t go and the breeding ground for storm intensification.
No other hurricane model accesses this wide of a range of meteorological information, said meteorologist Jeff Masters, of Weather Underground.
The other two tools are robots: unmanned, or drone, propeller planes and boats capable of slinging into the heart of the storm to provide the data for the modeling.
With the equipment in place, forecasters are now running a test forecasting model alongside the operational model and hope to increase the current three-to-five day forecast of track and intensity to six to seven days.
There’s just been one little problem this year, so far: None of the four named storms has lasted six days.