Q:

What tools are used to track hurricanes?

A:

Quick Answer

Some of the tools hurricane centers use to track and forecast storms include satellites, reconnaissance aircraft, ships, buoys and radar systems. Satellites are used in remotely measuring the intensity and track of the hurricane as the tropical cyclone travels over the ocean.

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Full Answer

Forecasters interpret satellite data to calculate the storm’s characteristics, such as the location of its center, its previous movement and its maximum wind speed or intensity. The forecasting procedure typically starts by gathering available observations. Satellites regularly monitor a hurricane from the formation of the storm until its dissipation.

In North America, the National Hurricane Center predicts the size, structure, intensity and track of tropical cyclones, storm surges, rainfall and tornadoes caused by tropical cyclones. Other forecast agencies conduct procedures similar to the process used by the NHC, but they tailor their procedures to their specific areas of responsibility.

The U.S. Air Force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration hurricane aircraft, dropsondes and land stations directly keep track of any Atlantic hurricane that threatens to make landfall. The Chief, Aerial Reconnaissance Coordination, All Hurricanes, or CARCAH, is responsible for organizing tropical cyclone reconnaissance flights, which provide data to CARCAH, the NHC forecasters and the public. Land-based radars are used to obtain data on precipitation and wind velocity as the typhoon draws near the coast.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Why do we have hurricanes?

    A:

    Hurricanes form over warm ocean water when the air is cooler above. Winds must be at the surface of the ocean and spiral air inward for the hurricane to form.

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  • Q:

    What are the characteristics of hurricanes?

    A:

    Hurricanes are extremely powerful storms that form above ocean water and can cause devastating damage in coastal areas as a result of powerful winds, heavy rains, high waves and water levels. In meteorological terms, hurricanes are low-pressure systems that form in tropical areas.

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  • Q:

    How often do hurricanes occur?

    A:

    According to NASA, approximately 85 hurricanes occur worldwide each year. Not all of these hurricanes are devastating; some of them appear to be ordinary storms for the most part and only develop into official hurricanes for a few short hours, whereas others can be considered full-force hurricanes for several weeks. In order to be considered an official hurricane, in addition to having an eye with low atmospheric pressure, the circulating wind speeds should exceed 74 miles per hour.

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  • Q:

    What state has the most hurricanes?

    A:

    Florida has the most hurricane landfalls in the United States, with 110 accumulating from 1851 to 2004. Texas is second with 59 over the same span of time, and Louisiana is third with 49. North Carolina is fourth with 46 landfall strikes.

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