As Hurricane Ophelia is set to make landfall on the North Carolinacoast on Wednesday or Thursday (Sept. 14 or 15), analysis techniquesdeveloped by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-MadisonTropical Cyclones group in the Cooperative Institute for MeteorologicalSatellite Studies are helping to predict the anticipated path of thestorm.
Since 1982, the Tropical Cyclones group has been developingspecialized tools used by forecasters with weather satellite data usingits Man computer Interactive Data Access System (McIDAS). The groupforges techniques of use to forecasters, and for any major tropicalstorm its Web site transfers large amounts of data to researchers,forecasters and the general public. (During Hurricane Katrina, the siteexperienced 1.8 million hits.)
Most of its work is done far ahead of an actual hurricane,according to team leader Chris Velden, providing online analyses andimagery to forecasters long before storms reach land using theresources of the Data Center of the UW-Madison Space Science andEngineering Center. After using Tropical Cyclone group products duringHurricane Katrina, National Hurricane Center Director Max Mayfieldnoted that CIMSS imagery and products would see much future use.
As they did with Katrina, forecasters at the hurricane centerand in the National Weather Service will depend on those techniques anddata for Tropical Storm Ophelia. According to Velden, Ophelia is"meandering between tropical storm and hurricane," and because it ishugging the coast, satellite-based data is less critical than othertypes of information, although still helpful. Velden expects the stormto continue up the coast and eventually move out to sea.
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