Thursday, July 16, 2009

Florida State scientists unveil new seasonal hurricane forecasting model

Florida State University News: Scientists at The Florida State University's Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) have developed a new computer model that they hope will predict with unprecedented accuracy how many hurricanes will occur in a given season.

After about five years developing and assessing the model, Associate Scholar Scientist Tim LaRow and his COAPS colleagues are putting the system to the test this year with their first-ever hurricane forecast. The COAPS model is one of only a handful of so-called "dynamical models" in the world being used to study seasonal hurricane activity.

The COAPS model has predicted a below-average season in the Atlantic Ocean, with a mean of eight named storms and four hurricanes based partially on emerging El Nino conditions. During an El Nino, the warmer ocean temperatures in the tropical eastern Pacific tend to suppress hurricane activity in the Atlantic. The historical seasonal average is 11 tropical storms and six hurricanes. "Making a real-time forecast for the first time is always very interesting and a very good test of the model," LaRow said. "The hard part is in the waiting to see how the model verifies."….

This map shows the tracks of all Atlantic hurricanes which formed in November between 1950 and 2005. Created by Nilfanion, who has generously released the image into the public domain

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