New Forecasting Tools Save Lives

September 14, 2018
Quick Reads background image

Predicting Hurricanes

Every minute, of every day, forecasters scan for hurricanes.

How new technology works to save American families.

How It Works

How We Forecast Hurricanes

  • Satellites, aircraft use radar to constantly scan the oceans for areas of high wind.
  • Wind causes the sea level to rise, which can lead to a deadly effect of a hurricane: storm surge.
  • Bottom line: The worlds’ oceans are massive. We don’t have the technology to cover the whole surface constantly.

What we CAN do…

New tools of the
National Weather Service:

  • Supercomputer: processes prediction models faster.
  • GOES-16: new satellite helps us see storms develop in real time.
  • GOES-17: new satellite enables us to see storms & lightning that can spark forest fires.
“I can’t stress this enough. Models and observations are the base infrastructure that allows human forecasters to do better forecasts.”



David Novak, Director of the National Weather Service's Prediction Center, speaking in 2017 to CNBC. Technology helps forecasts, he says, but the human analysis remains important.

Once winds hit 74 mph a storm gets a new name: "Hurricane". Anything below 74 mph considered a "tropical storm." After Florence, the next "named" storms in the Atlantic are: Issac, Joyce & Helene.

by Jenna Lee,

ImageImageImageImage