Researchers from NASA and NOAA begin a month-long study Monday on hurricanes. They’re trying to learn why some tropical waves do little harm and others develop into killer storms.
Every hurricane season, about 60 tropical waves develop off the coast of Africa. As they move slowly west, towards the United States, some gain strength and develop into tropical systems but most just fizzle. NOAA and NASA are teaming up to spend more than 4-million dollars on reconnaissance flights off Africa and the Caribbean. Jason Dunion is a Miami-based meteorologist with NOAA’s Hurricane Research Division. He says they’re testing a theory on dust storms.
“When a system interacts with these Saharan dust storms, it tends to get suppressed. They have a lot of dry air, really strong winds and tons of dust. And all those pieces kind of come together to squash the hurricane. So what we’re trying to do is to understand those interactions while they’re taking place.”
Dunion says this is part of the reason why forecasters have such a difficult time predicting a storm’s path and intensity. They hope to have some early results in a few months.
Weather researchers have started a study to try to understand why virtually all tropical waves that develop off Africa fail to intensify into hurricanes. NOAA and NASA have joined up to spend four-million dollars over the next month. They’ll fly a series of reconnaissance flights over the Atlantic. NOAA meteorologist Jason Dunion of the Hurricane Research Division is leading the study. He says they’re not sure why most tropical waves stay weak and others strengthen into hurricanes.
“That really is the million dollar question. We really don’t have a great handle on why is it only one in ten that form into a storm? Why isn’t eight out of ten or nine out of ten? So that part’s really a mystery.”
Monday, 15 August 2005 01:00