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New hurricane forecast model set to launch this hurricane season

'It's like a high-resolution TV; the better the resolution, you get better structures,' Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan says
Posted at 4:40 PM, Jun 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-06-22 19:58:05-04

With hurricane season already underway in Florida, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has developed a new model that they say provides more accurate forecast information.

It’s called the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System.

"We are sowing the seeds for the next generation of hurricane baselines," shared the lead developer on the project.

Sundararaman Gopalakrishnan, known as "Gopal," is the senior meteorologist who leads the team. He said the product has taken three years to develop, and this model provides a more high-resolution picture above land and water.

It not only is able to track a storm and predict intensity and winds but also provides more accurate information when it comes to what happens after a storm—think storm surges, tornado threats and rainfall.

"People want details more than ever basically, so it's not just track intensity now," Gopal said. "No, now it’s what’s after landfall."

How it works is the model uses "telescopic nests." Those nests allow researchers to zoom in on hurricanes more closely and see them more clearly.

"It's like a high-resolution TV; the better the resolution, you get better structures," Gopal said. "When you look at a global model, which is 27 kilometers, you might miss some of those details. And these details and those interactions are more critical for mission intensity or improving the intensity predictions in the model."

The model uses satellites and data from NOAA's Hurricane Hunters and the U.S. Air Force Reserve. Gopal said the new model has already shown a 10% to 15% improvement compared to previous models, but there are still gaps in the model.

That gap is in the area where the ocean and atmosphere meet, the place where hurricanes either lose or gain strength.

But Gopal assured the work to create newer and better models does not stop here.

His lab, along with others that are part of the "Unified Forecast System," hope in the near future, they will be able to study multiple storms at once as each tropical cyclone, even miles apart, affects the progress of others.

But for now, they hope to put this new model to use next week as they work to bring us the most accurate data when storms begin to roll through our waters.

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