Using Sound To Measure Hurricane Intensity

I’ve been continuing to read articles off the Internet with regard to hurricanes and tropical storms. I’ve reviewed links to articles dating back to November, and the end of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season, and I’ve found quite a bit of interesting information. The latest little jewel that I found, and promptly shared with those on the Hurricaneville Mailing List was this article that appeared this week in Science Daily about how researchers are trying to use sound as a way to measure a hurricane’s intensity. For those of you, who may have not been aware, the Long Island Express Hurricane of 1938 was so powerful, and moved so rapidly up the East Coast that it actually registered on the Richter Scale as far away as Alaska when it roared ashore over Long Island on September 21st of that year.

One of the big problems with hurricanes is being able to record the exact intensity of these powerful storms, especially when they are far out at sea over the tropical waters of the Eastern Atlantic, or far out in the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic. However, with a new tool that is being developed by a group of researchers at MIT, there may be finally a way to record a hurricane’s intensity far out at sea by using sound. According to the article, which was posted on Thursday, April 10th, researchers have come up with the idea of placing underwater microphones far below the surface in the path of a hurricane to measure the storm’s wind power as a function of the sound it produces. The combination of the winds, wind driven waves, and the foam and spray produced by a hurricane can create a rushing sound that can determine the power of such a storm.

Up and until now, the National Hurricane Center has only been able to fly Hurricane Hunter and Air Force Reconnaissance aircraft into these storm systems to record all the up to date information. However, this can prove dangerous, and although there haven’t been any storm related plane crashes in recent years, the act of flying into such storms has proven deadly in the past. There has been news stories in recent years that have indicated the NHC is moving toward having unmanned aircraft such as Predator Drones that are used by the military in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq to be able to record data from these storms, but this can be a promising tool especially in very hard to reach places such as the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or the Far Eastern Atlantic between the Cape Verde Islands and the Lesser Antilles, where aircraft do not have enough fuel to fly out to meet developing storms.

This could also be very helpful to those in the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic where there is a vast expanse of land between the East Coast of the United States, Greenland, Bermuda, and the Azores. More importantly, it could prove more cost effective than drone aircraft while still providing the remote sensing information that will reduce the need for manned flights.