This summer the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is making several improvements and upgrades to its operational supercomputing system, and implementing the new Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS), in order to provide emergency managers and communities with more time to prepare for storms. HAFS has shown 10-15% improvement in track forecasts compared to existing operational models through retrospective analysis of tropical storms and hurricanes from the 2020-2022 seasons.
In addition to HAFS, NOAA has upgraded the Probabilistic Storm Surge model, which provides forecasters with the likelihood or probability of various flooding scenarios including a near worst-case scenario. This allows communities to better prepare for storm surges that may occur. The National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Weather Outlook graphic, which shows tropical cyclone formation potential, has also been extended from five days to seven days.
NOAA also extends the Excessive Rainfall Outlook an additional two days out, now providing forecasts up to five days in advance; this is intended to give communities more time to prepare for any potential flash flooding due to excessive rainfall. To further aid in preparations for flooding events, The National Weather Service will launch a new generation of forecast flood inundation mapping for portions of Texas and portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast in September 2023; eventually these maps will extend across the US by 2026.
To advance our understanding of hurricanes, fill critical data gaps, and improve hurricane forecast accuracy, NOAA is utilizing new technologies such as small aircraft drones systems, Saildrones and underwater gliders as well as WindBorne global sounding balloons. Furthermore, NOAA is modernizing and upgrading its Tropical Atmosphere Ocean buoy array by providing additional capabilities such as updated instruments and higher frequency observations. This upgrade will help with forecasting El Nino/La Nina conditions which can influence hurricane activity.
As part of their commitment towards helping emergency managers better prepare for storms that may come their way during hurricane season this year or any other year - regardless of the number of storms predicted - FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell urges everyone understand their risk and heed warnings from state/local officials; resources are available on ready.gov or listo.gov while real time alerts can be accessed via downloading FEMA's App.
NOAA is committed to helping communities prepare for hurricane season by providing extended forecasts and modernized tools. From the upgrade of their operational supercomputing system, the launch of HAFS, and the improved Probabilistic Storm Surge model - all the way to the new generation of forecast flood inundation maps and improvements to their Tropical Atmosphere Ocean buoy array - they are doing everything in their power to give emergency managers more time to evacuate any areas that may be in danger due to a storm. It is critical for everyone understand their risk and take necessary precautions when needed!