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

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    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:

    How are hurricanes, tornadoes and typhoons different?

    A:

    Hurricanes are massive storms made out of an organized series of thunderstorms that form over the ocean. Typhoons are the same as hurricanes, except they occur in a different part of the world. Tornadoes are smaller storms that usually form over land as a result of individual thunderstorms.

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  • Q:

    Where do hurricanes come from?

    A:

    Hurricanes form in the open ocean, with the majority coming together in the western Pacific Ocean or the eastern Atlantic, off the coast of Africa. A smaller number form in the Gulf of Mexico or the Indian Ocean each year. Hurricanes require calm, warm ocean waters to set up the convective current that gives the storm its rotational power and allows it to build into a powerful cyclone.

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  • Q:

    When and where do hurricanes occur?

    A:

    Hurricanes most often occur in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. Hurricane season in the Atlantic Ocean lasts from the beginning of June to the end of November, while in the north Indian Ocean, it lasts from April to December. In the eastern North Pacific Ocean, hurricane season lasts from May 15 to the end of November. In the south Pacific, the season runs from November to April.

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