Forecasters use new hurricane model

New model will help predict the start of eyewall replacement cycles

MIAMI | June 1, 2012

U.S. forecasters say a new statistical model will help determine a hurricane's strength and size as the official 2012 Atlantic hurricane season gets under way.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the new model will help predict the start of eyewall replacement cycles that can cause sudden dramatic changes in a hurricane.

NOAA scientist Jim Kossin, who led the effort to create the model, said skillful forecasting of the natural cycles is crucial to protecting life and property.

"As it was approaching New Orleans, Hurricane Katrina weakened but grew in size because of an eyewall replacement cycle and the huge wind field led to an enormous storm surge that devastated the Gulf Coast," Kossin said Thursday in a statement.

The model uses data from NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites to identify hurricane structure patterns related to eyewall replacement cycles. Microwave images from NOAA polar orbiting satellites were incorporated extensively to create the model using past data, the agency said.

Hurricane season in the Atlantic officially begins June 1 and runs through Nov. 30.

Forecasters last week said conditions in the atmosphere and the ocean favor a near-normal hurricane season in the Atlantic Basin

The Climate Prediction Center said there's a 70 percent chance of nine to 15 named storms, of which four to eight will strengthen to a hurricane and of those, three will become major hurricanes with top winds of 111 mph or higher.

Between 1981 and 2010, an average season produces 12 named storms with six hurricanes.

2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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