News / Science & Technology

Atlantic Hurricane Season Predictions Due this Week

Satellite Driven Weather Predictions Getting Betteri
X
Rosanne Skirble
May 19, 2014 10:55 PM
The 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season predictions are due out this week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), although the accuracy of such long-range forecasts is often criticized.
Rosanne Skirble
The 2014 Atlantic Hurricane Season predictions are due out this week from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), although the accuracy of such long-range forecasts is often criticized.

For example, the active Atlantic hurricane season that was predicted last year never materialized.  

Imperfect science

NOAA’s Satellite Operations Facility near Washington houses the the tools meteorologists use to make their forecasts.

Tom Boyd sits before a bank of computers that streams live data from weather satellites.

“As we speak, we’re looking at what is happening on the satellite," he said. "It tells the imager and sounder when to stop and start and when to scan out over the U.S.”
 
Atlantic Hurricane Season Predictions Due Out this Week
Atlantic Hurricane Season Predictions Due Out this Week i
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The imager works like a camera in space, and the sounder measures the temperature radiated from clouds, oceans and air. Boyd is among the dozens of aerospace engineering technicians in the control room who gather that data and make sure the satellites run properly around-the-clock.

NOAA’s fleet includes 16 satellites, some of which remain in a set position over the United States, while others constantly circle the globe. The challenge is to get as accurate a picture of the atmosphere as possible, says Mike Condray, deputy director of NOAA’s Office of Satellite and Product Operations.   

“They give you the temperature, the winds, the humidity, that kind of information," Condray said. "And that as data is put into the computer models that the National Weather Service runs and those computer models are what give people the long-term 3-days, 5-days, 7-day forecasts to prepare.”

And those long-term forecasts can save lives.  
 
Each day NOAA's Satellite Operations Facility processes 16 billion bytes of data from 16 different satellites.Each day NOAA's Satellite Operations Facility processes 16 billion bytes of data from 16 different satellites.
“Every time we see a hurricane, every time we see any kind of severe weather out there, that underscores the importance to the folks out here on the floor of what they do every day,” Condray said.

Better predictions

He expects predictions to improve with the launch of the Joint Polar Satellite System in early 2017.

 “What these will provide is about an order of magnitude, in other words about 10 times more volume of data on the atmospheric state on the winds, the temperature and the humidity in the atmosphere,” Condray said.

That information will improve the day-to-day forecast.

Seasonal forecasts rely on even more data sources. In addition to satellites, they depend on ocean buoys that record sea temperature and observations from ships. NOAA and Colorado State University issue annual hurricane reports to let planners and the public know what to expect.  

Warmer than normal waters in the tropical Pacific generally indicate fewer storms in the Atlantic.

”If the waters are warmer than normal that tends to mean there is more fuel for the developing storms," said CSU research scientist Philip Klotzbach, who mines the tropical Atlantic for similar clues. "If the atmospheric pressures are lower than normal that tends to mean the atmosphere is more unstable and more conducive for storms to form and intensify.”   

But errors do occur.  

“It is certainly very difficult to predict and is very complicated because the atmosphere and the ocean interact in a very complicated manner and you have to take into account a lot of these complicated relationships when you are issuing these seasonal predictions,” Klotzbach said.  

But Klotzbach says mistakes better inform the next forecast, adding, “Prediction remains an inexact science.”

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More