BY YEH SHIUAN RICK LIN
The wicked season has hit. As June approaches, people start pondering on whether a hurricane will hit this year. The hurricane season begins in June 1st and lasts until November 30th. University of Miami is located in South Florida, a region that is particularly prone to being hit by a hurricane. Therefore, several factors should be taken into consideration such as hurricane predictions and hurricane precautions to take. For instance, tracking predictability is a major portion of the research that is being done on hurricanes.
Scientists are constantly researching about hurricanes, particularly on tracking predictability. The tracking predictability is mainly how the public checks whether a hurricane is approaching their area on the National Hurricane center website. Dr. Shuyi Chen, a professor in the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science here at the University of Miami, studies tracking hurricane predictability among other areas. She said, “We are looking at shorter term, for instance, several days.” She uses a very high-resolution model to make these predictions for the next few days. Dr. Chen mentioned that as the time period becomes longer, the predictability becomes less accurate. Despite of this, Dr. Chen said better computer models and expansion of knowledge would help with predictability over a longer term. Another way Dr. Chen performs her research is observing hurricanes from an airplane. The purpose of this method is to observe certain regions of the oceans and understand why particular regions have a higher likelihood of a hurricane intensifying.
Last year, a quiet hurricane season existed. The NOAA predicted that there was going to be a very active season in 2013. However, the season turned out to be one of the quietest. Dr. Chen mentions that this shows the level of difficulty scientists have with predicting longer-term hurricane seasons. Many suspect that the reason for this is that global warming is worsening. The building of warmer and drier air over the Atlantic Ocean causes the atmosphere is become more stable. Therefore, tropical storms are not likely to form in this type of condition.
“The size of the hurricane determines its strength.” That is one of the most common myths about hurricanes. Certainly an abundant of other myths also exists. Has anyone told you that you should open your windows during a hurricane to let the air flow easier? That simply just allows air to come into the house and may “inflate” your home. Dr. Chen also mentions another common myth is that predictability of the long term is better than predicting hurricanes during the short term. However, the truth to that is that there are better models to predict hurricanes for the next several days compared to predicting the hurricane for the next several months. Another common misconception about hurricanes is the comparison between hurricanes and tornados. Which one do you think has a higher wind speed? The answer is that tornados have speeds up to 300 mph, while hurricanes have only up to 190 mph. That is definitely a big gap between the two.
Remember always be prepared to encounter a hurricane and if it is hurricane season keep an eye out on the forecast particularly because forecasts are more accurate for the short term.