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We have been hearing quite a bit the past few summers about how we are entering a new 20 to 40 year period of increased hurricane activity, and we have been warned that a big storm will hit and cause several times more damage than even Hurricane Andrew did to South Florida and Louisiana in August, 1992.

Forecasters have been hard at work along with researchers in trying to prevent such a disaster from happening anywhere along the East Coast of the United States from Maine to Texas. The latest work includes a newly developed Hurricane Powder, and a new joint project between NASA and NOAA that studies Hurricane Intensity. Let's take a closer look.



Background On The Latest Hurricane Research

Over the past seven years or so, hurricane activity has dramatically increased in the Atlantic Basin. Since 1995, we have seen a total of 79 named storms, 43 hurricanes, and 25 major hurricanes. That is supposedly just a sign of things to come as many forecasters and hurricane experts predict that we have just begun to enter a period of increased hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

Couple that with the fact that we are seeing exploding populations along our coastlines, and forecasters and researchers are becoming very concerned. In response to that, a great deal has been done this summer to improve our understanding of hurricanes so that we can prevent a major disaster. The first development has been the creation of a powdery substance called Dyn-O-Gel, which is a product created by a South Florida company called, Dyn-O-Mat.


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Progress With Dyn-O-Gel

Back in July, 2001, Dyn-O-Mat took its product to the skies, and the result was their first success as they placed Dyn-O-Gel powder into a thunderstorm near Jupiter, Florida. There were approximately 9,000 granules of the substance used on the thunderstorm, which caused the thunderstorm cloud to lose its moisture content and that was confirmed by local radar in the region.

Many of the executives at the company were very happy with the success and took the opportunity to push their company to obtain government funding for their next experiment on a tropical depression. However, there are still some nay sayers to this product.

Some feel that a powder cannot be strong enough to reduce a major hurricane wind's such as those felt in Belize from Hurricane Iris. Meanwhile, others believe that substances such as Dyn-O-Gel are not likely to have any effect on powerful hurricanes, but perhaps help in alleviating severe thunderstorms.


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Researching Hurricane Intensity

Another significant development, or effort, we should say, began this summer when NASA and NOAA joined forces to begin investigating hurricanes and how they intensify. This coordinated effort, combined satellite data from NASA as well as upper air reconnaissance flights near these fierce storms.

There will also be unmanned low flying aircraft heading into these storms. The hopes of these efforts will be to reveal information about hurricanes that will give forecasters a better understanding of why these storms intensify. This research will ultimately assist forecasters at the National Hurricane Center and the National Weather Service to be able to produce better and more accurate forecasts, particularly in the area of hurricane intensity several days in advance.

Forecasting has improved a great deal in terms of actually predicting the future location of such storms, but have had difficulty forecasting the intensity of such storms. In addition, the National Hurricane Center has begun experimenting with the idea of using a five day hurricane forecast rather than a 72 hour forecast.

Now, this is only being implemented within the NHC, and the forecasts are not going to be made public for the time being. All in all, things are getting interesting in the area of hurricane research. Hopefully, these efforts will prove fruitful in future years and save many lives as well as protect valuable property.


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