Seeing the eye: Weather model advances hurricane intensity prediction

September 21, 2005

BOULDER--An advanced research weather model run by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is following Hurricane Rita to give scientists a taste of how well forecast models of the future may predict hurricane track, intensity, and important rain and wind features. Tap into the model's daily storm projection at www.ucar.edu.

With its high-resolution grid of data points just four kilometers (about 2.5 miles) apart, the model can project the location of fine-scale rain bands and eyewall structures 48 hours into the future.

It's these storm features that determine where the greatest damage from both rain and wind might occur, says NCAR weather expert Chris Davis. Current operational forecast models use a coarser resolution and must approximate the cloud processes affecting intensity and precipitation.

Known as ARW, the computer model is NCAR's research version of the Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF), a joint effort by university and government scientists.

"ARW intensity predictions are very encouraging," says Davis. "Five years ago, accurate intensity predictions weren't even possible."

The model captured in detail the collapse of Hurricane Katrina's eyewall at landfall and the shift of precipitation to the north side of the storm. Had the eyewall's structure remained coherent, the winds would have been far more devastating. However, an eyewall always weakens at landfall, says Davis.

Teams supporting the Department of Energy and Department of Homeland Security are using real-time ARW data in their damage models. The researchers are testing how computer simulations of a particular hurricane's most destructive features might improve damage model projections and lead to better warnings of floods, power outages, and road blockage. This year's test cases have included hurricanes Katrina, Ophelia, and now Rita.

Meanwhile, a hurricane experiment in Florida is investigating the interactions between Hurricane Rita's rain bands and its eyewall. NCAR's Wen-Chau Lee is flying through the storm aboard a Naval Research Laboratory P-3 aircraft to gather radar data from inside the bands. The observations from the Hurricane Rainband and Intensity Change Experiment (RAINEX) will help scientists better understand the impact of the rain bands on the storm's maximum winds.
-end-


National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

Related Hurricane Articles from Brightsurf:

Hurricane resilience in the Bahamas
A new Stanford-led study provides information on how to invest in natural coastal ecosystems that the Bahamian government, community leaders and development banks are applying in post-disaster recovery and future storm preparation in the Bahamas.

NASA finds a weaker hurricane Juliette
Hurricane Juliette has been weakening and NASA-NOAA's Suomi NPP satellite provided a look at the strength of storms within.

NASA sees Dorian become a hurricane
NASA's Terra satellite passed over the northwestern Atlantic Ocean as Dorian reached hurricane status during the afternoon of August 28, 2019.

Landslides triggered by Hurricane Maria
Hurricane Maria hit the island of Puerto Rico on 20 September 2017 and triggered more than 40,000 landslides in at least three-fourths of Puerto Rico's 78 municipalities.

NASA sees Atlantic's Leslie become a hurricane
NASA's Aqua satellite captured an infrared image of Hurricane Leslie that revealed strong storms circled the center.

NASA sees Walaka becoming a powerful Hurricane
The Global Precipitation Measurement mission or GPM core satellite passed over the Central Pacific Hurricane Center and analyzed Walaka's rainfall and cloud structure as it was strengthening into a hurricane.

NASA finds a weaker Hurricane Olivia
Infrared data from NASA's Terra satellite revealed that the area of coldest cloud topped thunderstorms has dropped from the previous day, indicating weaker uplift and less-strong storms

NASA looks at heavy rainmaker in Hurricane Lane
Cloud top temperatures provide scientists with an understanding of the power of a tropical cyclone.

Hector weakens but remains Category 4 Hurricane
Hurricane Hector has weakened slightly but still remains a robust Category Four storm at present.

UA forecast: Below-average hurricane activity
The UA hurricane forecasting model, which has proved to be extremely accurate over the years, is calling for fewer hurricanes in the Atlantic this year on the heels of a devastating 2017.

Read More: Hurricane News and Hurricane Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.