Meteorologists get key upgrade just in time for 2022 hurricane season
New technology from the University of Wisconsin will help with preparation of more detailed forecasts and provide more reliable information to meteorologists and emergency planners, which should ultimately result in better, safer outcomes for public safety.
Developed by researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS), the ADT provides an indication of how a storm might strengthen, especially one approaching populated coastal areas.
How will it be used?
The release also noted because landfall preparations and evacuations are costly and disruptive, “accurate forecasts aided by the ADT can have huge implications for emergency planners who must decide whether to issue an order, and for residents who must follow it.”
One of the upgrades to the ADT plans to tackle the issue head-on by providing better identification of the location of the center of circulation (often called the eye of the storm).
“Pinning down the center of circulation with the greatest degree of accuracy is very important to the National Hurricane Center, as it helps us begin the forecast process with the best initial conditions, which will likely make the track forecasts more accurate,” said John Cangialosi, Senior Hurricane Specialist at the NHC. “In addition, the ADT itself works better when the center position used in the technique is more accurate, which in turn will provide better intensity estimates to NHC.”
With more data, forecasters can reduce errors in the future path of the storm’s track, what is called the forecast cone of uncertainty. Being able to narrow it down, even a little bit, can help city planners, emergency managers, and local residents know when to evacuate.
“When NHC is flying hurricane hunter aircraft into storms, they primarily rely on that ‘ground truth’ for current intensity estimation,” explained Phil Klotzbach, research scientist at Colorado State University (CSU). “However, when there are no planes, NOAA relies on a variety of satellite-based estimation tools to assess a storm’s current intensity.”
One of those tools includes the subjectively-analyzed Dvorak estimates from the Tropical Analysis and Forecast Branch as well as the Satellite Analysis Branch. The analysis from those tools and others goes directly into the forecasts.
The new software to improve the ADT storm center positions is called Automated Rotational Center Hurricane Eye Retrieval (ARCHER).
Olander pointed out previous versions of the ADT used infrared (IR) imagery, which unlike visible imagery, is available at all times of the day. But the new version has additional imagery to assist with forecasting.
“The technique uses multispectral satellite data to provide a much improved storm center determination over just using IR imagery alone,” Olander emphasized.
In addition to Atlantic basin hurricanes, the system works well for tropical storms in other oceans, where direct measurements can be more difficult to come by.
“It is important to be able to estimate a storm’s intensity to help emergency planners prepare for any storm that may interact with coastal regions and population centers as well as nautical interests such as shipping and military,” Olander added.
“Places like Canada, United Kingdom, and Europe are very interested in these types of storms and how it may affect them since they can cause a lot of damage,” Olander outlined. “Extending the ADT to provide intensity estimates when the storm is in these regions can be a tremendous aid to forecasters in those areas.”
Another busy season?
“It’s important to understand that it doesn’t matter if there’s 20 storms or one; if it impacts you, it’s a busy season,” said Haley Brink, CNN Meteorologist.
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