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NOAA image of the HWRF 96 hour (4 day) forecast for Hurricane Katrina heading for New Orleans in 2005.June 27, 2007 NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction and its National Hurricane Center forecasters will now use the Hurricane Weather and Research Forecast Model to predict the track and strength of storms this hurricane season.

Developed by scientists at the NOAA Environmental Modeling Center, HWRF is a new cutting-edge computer model that will serve as the operational backbone for current and future hurricane track and intensity forecasts by meteorologists at the National Hurricane Center in Miami. (Click NOAA image for larger view of the HWRF 96 hour (4 day) forecast for Hurricane Katrina heading for New Orleans in 2005. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

HWRF, a coupled ocean-atmosphere model, will utilize highly advanced physics of the atmosphere, ocean and waves in one prediction system, providing unparalleled understanding of the science of tropical cyclone evolution. Its output gives meteorologists an analysis of the hurricane in three-dimensions from real-time airborne Doppler radar. It will make use of a wide variety of observations from satellites, data buoys, and hurricane hunter aircraft. No other hurricane model accesses this wide of a range of meteorological information.

“It is vital that we understand all the factors of hurricane forecasting throughout the life of a storm and HWRF will provide an unprecedented level of detail. Over the next several years, this model promises to improve forecasts for tropical cyclone intensity, wave and storm surge, and hurricane-related inland flooding,” said Mary Glackin, acting director of NOAA’s National Weather Service. “It will be one of the most dynamic tools available for our forecasters.”

HWRF will eventually run at a very high resolution with advanced representation of a hurricane on many different scales of motion, which means it will be able to describe and forecast the smaller scale features of the hurricane circulation along with its interaction with the environment. This will provide forecasters with critical information on the evolution of the wind structure within the storm.

“We must continue to improve our modeling capabilities and, with HWRF, more accurate hurricane forecasts will help protect the lives of those prone to such storms,” added Louis Uccellini, director of NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction. “HWRF will serve as a platform for future enhancements that will incorporate more advanced physics and advanced observations of both the atmosphere and ocean, not only through the large-scale global observations, but of the storm circulation.”

NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction is composed of nine centers; the Aviation Weather Center, Climate Prediction Center, Environmental Modeling Center, Hydrometeorological Prediction Center, NCEP Central Operations, Ocean Prediction Center, Space Environment Center, Storm Prediction Center, and the Tropical Prediction Center that provide the United States with first alerts of weather, climate, ocean and space weather events.

Relevant Web Sites

NOAA’s National Weather Service

NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction

Hurricane Myth vs. Fact

Media Contact:
David Miller, NOAA National Centers for Environmental Prediction, (301) 763-8000, extension 7163 or (202) 329-4030, cellular