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How Are Hurricanes Tracked? Tools and Tips for Superior Coverage

Weather Conditions & Terminology | Weather forecasting | Weather Radar |

How Are Hurricanes Tracked? Tools and Tips for Superior Coverage

As we move into the Hurricane Season that began on June 1st, it’s crucial to understand how hurricanes are tracked. Accurate hurricane tracking is vital for safety, preparedness, and mitigating damage. Hurricanes can cause extensive destruction, from powerful winds and heavy rainfall to devastating storm surges. The ability to track and predict these storms is essential for minimizing their impact on communities and infrastructure. Weather technology companies play a pivotal role in enhancing our capabilities to monitor and predict these powerful storms, utilizing a combination of traditional and advanced tools.

The Basics of Hurricane Formation and Movement

Hurricanes, also known as tropical cyclones, form over warm ocean waters when conditions such as low wind shear, high humidity, and a pre-existing weather disturbance come together. These storms are fueled by the heat from the ocean, which evaporates and rises, creating powerful winds and heavy rain. The process begins with the formation of a tropical depression, which can then escalate to a tropical storm and eventually a hurricane if conditions remain favorable. Tracking a storm’s formation and movement is essential because early detection allows for timely warnings and preparations. Understanding the key factors influencing hurricane paths, such as atmospheric pressure patterns, ocean temperatures, and wind currents, helps meteorologists predict the trajectory and potential impact of these storms more accurately.


Traditional Tools for Hurricane Tracking


Weather satellites, both geostationary and polar orbiting, are fundamental in monitoring tropical activity. Geostationary satellites remain fixed over a particular spot on the Earth, providing continuous observation of hurricane development and movement. These satellites capture images and data in real-time, allowing meteorologists to monitor changes in the storm’s structure and intensity. Polar-orbiting satellites, on the other hand, offer detailed images from different angles as they orbit the Earth. They provide high-resolution data on atmospheric conditions. The data collected by these satellites include cloud patterns, sea surface temperatures, and moisture levels, all crucial for predicting hurricane behavior.


Doppler radar technology is crucial for detecting the intensity and precipitation of hurricanes near and upon landfall. Doppler radars can measure the velocity of precipitation particles, which helps in determining wind speeds and storm structure. These radars send out pulses of radio waves and analyze the waves that bounce back from precipitation particles. This information is used to create detailed images of the storm’s internal structure, showing areas of heavy rainfall, wind speeds, and potential rotation.

Climavision fills observation gaps in existing radar coverage with our advanced high-resolution weather radar systems. The Climavision network is a first of its kind, supplemental radar network that provides access to real-time streaming radar data to deliver more complete coverage at the critical lower levels of the atmosphere. We also combine our radar network with the NWS radar network to deliver more seamless coverage with products such as Quantitative Precipitation Estimation (QPE). The additional coverage our supplemental network provides will be critical for tracking hurricanes as they approach land, providing real-time data on storm intensity and helping to predict potential impacts on affected areas.

Aircraft Reconnaissance

Hurricane Hunter planes fly directly into tropical systems to collect real-time data. These aircraft are equipped with sophisticated instruments that measure wind speed, pressure, temperature, and humidity. The data collected from these missions is invaluable for improving the accuracy of hurricane forecasts. Hurricane Hunter crews brave turbulent conditions to gather critical information that satellites and radars cannot provide, such as the exact pressure, temperature and dew point, particularly in the eye of the storm, which is essential for accurate tracking and prediction. This real-time data enhances our understanding of the storm’s dynamics and helps refine predictive models.


Advanced Technologies in Hurricane Tracking

Drones and Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS)

Drones are becoming increasingly important in hurricane tracking. They can fly closer to the storm than manned aircraft, collecting high-resolution data on wind speeds, temperature, and pressure. Drones can be deployed in areas that are too dangerous for manned missions, providing valuable data from within the storm. Successful drone missions have demonstrated their potential to enhance our understanding of hurricanes by capturing detailed measurements of atmospheric conditions, which are critical for improving predictive models. The use of drones in hurricane tracking is an evolving field, with ongoing research aimed at expanding their capabilities and applications.

Remote Sensing Technologies

Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) is used in hurricane tracking to measure wind speeds and atmospheric conditions. This technology uses laser pulses to detect and measure particles in the atmosphere, providing high-resolution data on wind speed and direction. Remote sensing provides detailed data on hurricane dynamics, helping meteorologists predict the storm’s path and intensity more accurately. Lidar technology is particularly useful for studying the vertical structure of hurricanes, offering insights into how different layers of the atmosphere interact during a storm. This information is crucial for refining models and improving the accuracy of forecasts.

High-Resolution Computer Models

Predictive modeling is a cornerstone of modern hurricane tracking. Major models like GFS (Global Forecast System) and ECMWF (European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts) are well-known for their reliability. However, Climavision’s Horizon AI Global Model represents a significant advancement in hurricane forecasting. This model utilizes advanced mathematical equations that AI alone cannot replicate, integrating 1.5 billion global observational datasets daily. The efficient assimilation of satellite data in this model enhances forecast precision, improves understanding of atmospheric processes, and supports informed decision-making.

As you can see in the above diagram, the Climavision Horizon AI Global model most accurately predicted the track that Hurricane Ian took.

Climavision’s Horizon AI Global Model elevates usable observational data to over 20%, a stark contrast to the 3% provided by government sources. Targeted AI techniques significantly improve observation assimilation and quality control, refining the prediction of hurricane tracks, winds, and temperatures. By leveraging advanced AI technology, this model helps organizations reduce costs associated with weather-related disruptions. The Horizon AI Global Model represents a new approach to Numerical Weather Prediction, offering highly accurate and high-resolution forecast that can better anticipate and mitigate the risks associated with extreme weather events.


Real-Time Data Collection and Analysis

Internet of Things (IoT) in Weather Monitoring

IoT sensors play a crucial role in real-time data collection for weather monitoring. These devices, such as IoT weather stations, provide continuous data on various meteorological parameters, enhancing the accuracy of hurricane tracking. IoT weather stations are equipped with sensors that measure temperature, humidity, pressure, and wind speed, transmitting this data in real-time to centralized systems. This network of devices creates a comprehensive picture of current weather conditions, allowing for more precise and timely predictions.

Big Data and AI in Hurricane Prediction

Big data analytics are revolutionizing hurricane prediction by improving tracking accuracy. AI and machine learning are used for pattern recognition and forecasting. These technologies analyze vast amounts of data from various sources, identifying patterns and trends that can improve predictive models. While AI cannot replace Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) models due to its inability to understand the underlying physics of atmospheric processes, it significantly supports forecasting advancements by enhancing data assimilation and model accuracy. The integration of AI with traditional NWP models, like the Horizon AI Global model, offers a powerful tool for more accurate and reliable hurricane forecasts.


Tips for Superior Hurricane Coverage

Utilizing Multiple Data Sources

Cross-referencing data from various tools is crucial for superior hurricane coverage. A multi-faceted approach to data analysis ensures more accurate and reliable forecasts. By integrating data from satellites, radars, aircraft, drones, and IoT devices, meteorologists can create a comprehensive and detailed picture of a hurricane’s current state and projected path. This holistic approach reduces the margin of error and enhances the reliability of forecasts, enabling better preparedness and response strategies.

Staying Updated with the Latest Technologies

Keeping abreast of emerging technologies in hurricane tracking is vital. Investing in advanced forecasting technology and models, such as Climavision’s Horizon AI Global Model, ensures that we stay ahead in hurricane tracking capabilities. Weather technology companies must continuously research and develop new tools and techniques to improve the accuracy and timeliness of hurricane predictions. Staying informed about the latest advancements and incorporating them into tracking strategies is essential for maintaining superior coverage and minimizing the impact of hurricanes on communities.

Improve Hurricane Prediction and Monitoring

Advanced hurricane tracking technologies are essential for enhancing safety and preparedness. Weather technology companies like Climavision play a crucial role in this domain, offering innovative solutions and tools to improve our ability to monitor and predict hurricanes. Accurate tracking and forecasting enable timely warnings, better preparedness, and more effective response strategies, ultimately reducing the impact of these powerful storms on lives and property. To learn more about Climavision’s Horizon AI Global Model for hurricane forecasting and tracking, contact us.