Researchers improve forecast models of tropical storms

By on March 13, 2013
Tropical Storm Gaston over the open Atlantic (Credit: U.S. Navy)

Scientists at the National Center for Atmospheric Research have discovered critical features necessary for strong tropical storms to form out of clusters of thunderstorms, according to a release. The knowledge could help forecasters spot powerful storms and hurricanes earlier.

The researchers observed eight storm systems over the Atlantic Ocean using a Gulfstream V aircraft. Dropsondes, which take readings as they fall to Earth, collected data on dewpoint, wind speed, humidity and other parameters while passing through the storms.

A high moisture content through the lowest three miles of the atmosphere and the right mix of coordinated wind patterns will most often lead to powerful storms. The conditions are difficult to see through satellite data, but the scientists say it is possible computer models could spot them.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation and is published in the Journal of Atmospheric Sciences.

Image: Tropical Storm Gaston over the open Atlantic (Credit: U.S. Navy, via Wikipedia)

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