FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: David Miller
Even though Tropical Storm Barry's winds were a few miles an hour shy of hurricane strength, the storm gave hurricane researchers at the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration several opportunities to test new technology that may tell them more about wind speed changes and landfall characteristics of tropical cyclones.
Hurricane researchers at NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, supporting the U. S. Weather Research Program, are working closely with NOAA's National Hurricane Center to develop new techniques that will provide a better understanding of wind structure and storm intensity changes, plus valuable information on storm track guidance.
Dr. Hugh Willoughby, director of AOML's Hurricane Research Division said, "The real accomplishment this summer is the closer connection between ground-breaking research and practical forecasting that benefits every coastal resident in harm's way."
Knowing wind speed at ground level when a hurricane makes landfall is of paramount importance to local emergency management personnel. To provide that information, meteorologists at AOML have created H*Wind, a program that visually depicts the wind speeds and denotes in easy-to-read color bands the regions of hurricane and gale force winds around a storm. Hurricane specialists at the hurricane center tried their hand at running H*Wind for the first time during Tropical Storm Barry, focusing on timely analysis and quality control of real-time wind observations. H*Wind is also being used in a post-storm analysis to determine Barry's actual wind speed at landfall.
Being able to accurately predict where a tropical cyclone will make landfall is another key factor to forecasters. For the best measurements, hurricane researchers have developed a technique that identifies the "sweet spots" in a storm that will yield the most accurate data. Scientists on board NOAA's hurricane surveillance Gulfstream-IV jet used the technique to take measurements of Tropical Storm Barry. Those measurements were incorporated in the models that the National Hurricane Center specialists used to issue landfall forecasts. It is anticipated this technique will provide nearly 15 percent improvement in the landfall forecast when fully operational.
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