Friday, June 19, 2009

Scientists look to cloud-tops for faster severe storm predictions

Severe thunderstorms can be nasty beasts. Intense lightning, hail, high winds, torrential rain, and at worst, tornadoes top the list of severe storms’ more, er, stimulating features.

Now, two scientists at the University of Wisconsin’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies say they have figured out a way to dramatically improve forecasters’ ability to predict which seemingly run-of-the-mill storm cells are likely to go postal.

Essentially, they use infrared images from weather satellites to give forecasters as much as 45 minutes earlier notice that a severe thunderstorm is brewing than the forecasters currently can get if they only used radar or reports from storm spotters.

Tools like this would be valuable enough today as a way to help improve severe-weather warnings. Their value likely would increase as the country copes with global warming.

Click here for the full article in Christian Science Monitor.

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