News of the WeekWEATHER

Forecasters Learning to Read a Hurricane's Mind

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Science  23 Apr 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5414, pp. 563-565
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5414.563

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As recently as the 1970s, guesses of a hurricane's position 24 hours ahead of time were off by an average of more than 200 kilometers. Now better observations of the streams of winds that carry hurricanes toward land are feeding new computer models for predicting how those winds will shift. Recent analyses--including one in last month's Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society --show that these new tools are getting results. The new forecasting skill means that crowded coasts will have more time to prepare for storms and that warnings can be limited to smaller sections of coast, saving millions of dollars on unnecessary evacuations.