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Rita and Beyond: Research Model Advances Hurricane Intensity Prediction

Date:
September 22, 2005
Source:
National Center for Atmospheric Research
Summary:
An advanced research weather model run by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is following Hurricane Rita to give scientists a taste of how forecast models of the future may predict hurricane track, intensity, and important rain and wind features.
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NCAR's Advanced Research WRF projects an outlook for the development of hurricanes approaching the southeastern United States once or twice daily. This image displays a prediction of Hurricane Rita's status by 2:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Savings Time on Wednesday, September 21, based on observed conditions reported at 8:00 p.m. EDT on Tuesday, September 20. The high resolution (4 kilometers, or 2.5 miles) provides a detailed look at rainbands, intensity, and other important features.
Credit: Image courtesy NCAR ARW

BOULDER -- An advanced research weather model run by the NationalCenter for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) is following Hurricane Rita togive scientists a taste of how well forecast models of the future maypredict hurricane track, intensity, and important rain and windfeatures. Tap into the model's daily storm projection at www.ucar.edu.

With its high-resolution grid of data points just four kilometers(about 2.5 miles) apart, the model can project the location offine-scale rain bands and eyewall structures 48 hours into the future.

It's these storm features that determine where the greatestdamage from both rain and wind might occur, says NCAR weather expertChris Davis. Current operational forecast models use a coarserresolution and must approximate the cloud processes affecting intensityand precipitation.

Known as ARW, the computer model is NCAR's research version ofthe Weather Research and Forecasting model (WRF), a joint effort byuniversity and government scientists.

"ARW intensity predictions are very encouraging," says Davis."Five years ago, accurate intensity predictions weren't even possible."

The model captured in detail the collapse of HurricaneKatrina's eyewall at landfall and the shift of precipitation to thenorth side of the storm. Had the eyewall's structure remained coherent,the winds would have been far more devastating. However, an eyewallalways weakens at landfall, says Davis.

Teams supporting the Department of Energy and Department ofHomeland Security are using real-time ARW data in their damage models.The researchers are testing how computer simulations of a particularhurricane's most destructive features might improve damage modelprojections and lead to better warnings of floods, power outages, androad blockage. This year's test cases have included hurricanes Katrina,Ophelia, and now Rita.

Meanwhile, a hurricane experiment in Florida is investigatingthe interactions between Hurricane Rita's rain bands and its eyewall.NCAR's Wen-Chau Lee is flying through the storm aboard a Naval ResearchLaboratory P-3 aircraft to gather radar data from inside the bands. Theobservations from the Hurricane Rainband and Intensity ChangeExperiment (RAINEX) will help scientists better understand the impactof the rain bands on the storm's maximum winds.


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The above story is based on materials provided by National Center for Atmospheric Research. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Center for Atmospheric Research. "Rita and Beyond: Research Model Advances Hurricane Intensity Prediction." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 September 2005. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050922013931.htm>.
National Center for Atmospheric Research. (2005, September 22). Rita and Beyond: Research Model Advances Hurricane Intensity Prediction. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 25, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050922013931.htm
National Center for Atmospheric Research. "Rita and Beyond: Research Model Advances Hurricane Intensity Prediction." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/09/050922013931.htm (accessed May 25, 2015).

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