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Hurricane Harvey provides lab for US forecast experiments

first_img Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Caution should be taken in interpreting such results, though, says Chris Davis, a meteorologist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado. “I do not believe meaningful conclusions about model performance can be reached for a single storm.” Still, Lin says, “If you count the full history of Harvey … I think FV3 global is likely the top performer.” FV3 may help with hurricane prediction when it starts powering U.S. forecasts, probably next year.Intensity can be even harder to predict than storm paths, and here NASA may be able to help. Many models missed that Harvey would grow to a category-4 storm just prior to landfall, in part because data on wind speeds are spotty and difficult to collect. Last December, NASA launched a constellation of eight identical microsatellites, called the Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS), to fill the gap. CYGNSS works by detecting the surface roughness of the ocean—a proxy for wind speeds—from the reflected radio signals of GPS satellites. These long-wavelength signals can pass through the veil of rain that cloaks hurricanes and blocks the microwaves that traditional weather satellites detect.Harvey was the first test for CYGNSS in severe winds. On 25 August, before Harvey made landfall, Christopher Ruf, an atmospheric scientist and engineer at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, strapped himself into a P-3 turboprop, an NOAA hurricane hunter, bound for the storm’s eye. His seat fell out beneath him again and again as the aircraft repeatedly plunged into the eyewall. Each time the wind grew more severe: The storm was rapidly intensifying.It will take weeks to know whether CYGNSS captured this sharp intensification, Ruf says. The weather service will be following his results closely. The constellation is technically only a 2-year experiment, but it’s possible the satellites could be pressed into operational service for NOAA, Ruf says. “Our simulations have shown that the forecast skill is improved. Now we need to demonstrate it for real.”With additional reporting by Julia Rosen. Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) NOAA’s offering is a brand-new forecasting model. Two years ago, NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) in Princeton, New Jersey, won a competition to provide the computer code for the next-generation weather model of NWS. Current NWS models must wait for results from a time-consuming global simulation before they can zoom in on a smaller area and run a high-resolution model for hurricanes. With GFDL’s new code, the next-generation model will be able to simulate storms at the same time as it runs globally, in theory, improving forecasts for hurricane paths because its fine-scaled predictions feed immediately into the model’s next run, rather than lagging behind.Last week, GFDL anxiously watched the developing storm to see how it compared with a test run of the next-generation model. On Thursday, a day prior to landfall, the experiment agreed with the European model that Harvey would plow inland, stall, then head back out over the Gulf of Mexico before making a second landfall near Houston, Texas. That progression, close to what’s happening, helps explain the sustained, catastrophic rainfall that has battered the Texas coast. Human influence may prolong ocean cycle that gave birth to Harvey NOAA In Colorado, a global flood observatory keeps a close watch on Harvey’s torrents For years, U.S. forecasters have envied their colleagues at the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) in Reading, U.K., whose hurricane prediction models remain the gold standard. Infamously, the National Weather Service (NWS) in 2012 failed to predict Hurricane Sandy’s turn into New Jersey, whereas ECMWF was spot on. But two innovations tested during Hurricane Harvey, one from NASA and another from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), could help level the playing field. By Paul VoosenAug. 28, 2017 , 4:24 PM Hurricane hunters fly in a modified P-3 Orion during Hurricane Harvey. center_img Email Hurricane Harvey provides lab for U.S. forecast experiments The GFDL model, called FV3, also correctly forecasted that Harvey would develop a double eyewall—a second circular band of storms around the band enclosing the eye. The model’s zoomed-in view also predicted the extreme rainfall totals seen by Houston some 5 days in advance, says Shian-Jiann Lin, the GFDL scientist who led the development of the code powering FV3. Update: Life after Harvey—scientists take stock of the damage, and their luck View of the eyewall of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina from a P-3 hurricane hunter.  Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe NOAA Related Harvey storieslast_img

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