Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lightning a tip-off for hurricane intensity?

Scientists have discovered a link between increased lightning and the strongest winds in hurricanes, a study reports online this week in the British journal Nature Geoscience. Lead author Colin Price of Tel Aviv University in Israel and colleagues found a significant increase in lightning about a day before the most intense winds in the hurricanes they studied. The authors say this bit of advance warning could lead to better intensity forecasts.

(Paul: NHC hurricane forecasters in Miami do a pretty good job predicting WHERE a hurricane will come ashore, certainly within 36-48 hours of landfall. What is more problematic and often not caught in advance is sudden weakening or intensification of a hurricane before it hits land. Why is this a potential nightmare? Many residents living along the coast may feel a false sense of security if a Category 1 hurricane threatens. But if, overnight - unexpectedly - the hurricane explodes in intensity to a Category 3 or 4, that could leave little or no time for last-minute evacuations, increasing the potential for loss of life).

Click onto the complete USA Today article.

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