How do scientists predict hurricanes?


Quick Answer

Scientists predict hurricanes by gathering statistics to predict them on a seasonal basis, and by tracking it three to five days in advance once its path begins. It is possible to predict hurricanes up to a week in advance but, because of technical limitations, these predictions are sometimes incorrect.

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Full Answer

To make seasonal predictions, scientists measure the Poisson equation against the hurricanes that occurred in the previous season. While such calculations are basic, they do offer an accurate view of seasonal activity. These predictions are rough. For example, they may indicate that a hurricane is due around the last week of June, but they cannot explicitly state the date.

More accurate predictions arise up to a week before the hurricane begins, but they more often occur between three and five days before its onset. The U.S. uses two models to predict hurricane intensity; the United States Navy Operational Global Atmospheric Predictions System, or NOGAPS, and the United Kingdom Meteorological Office's global model. Satellites featuring advanced weather tracking technology help them achieve this. For example, the Dvoak satellite grabs images of upcoming storms as the hurricane begins to form, and the NOGAPS model compares them with previous storms for an accurate view of the intensity. This, alongside inputting data into specialist computer programs, results in predictions. To ensure they are more accurate, aircraft fly above storms to measure them. This allows for better 24- to 48-hour forecasts.

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