Slashdot is powered by your submissions, so send in your scoop

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Power Hardware Science Technology

Supercomputers Are Driving a Revolution In Hurricane Forecasting (arstechnica.com) 66

Ars Technica's Eric Berger reports of how dramatic increases in computer power have helped improve the accuracy of hurricane forecasts: Based upon new data from the National Hurricane Center for hurricanes based in the Atlantic basin, the average track error for a five-day forecast fell to 155 nautical miles in 2017. That is, the location predicted by the hurricane center for a given storm was just 155 nautical miles away from the actual position of the storm five days later. What is incredible about this is that, back in 1998, this was the average error for a two-day track forecast. In fact, the annual "verification" report released Wednesday shows that for the hyperactive 2017 Atlantic hurricane season -- which included the devastating hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria -- the National Hurricane Center set records for track forecasts at all time periods: 12-hour, 24-hour, and two-, three-, four- and five-day forecasts.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Supercomputers Are Driving a Revolution In Hurricane Forecasting

Comments Filter:
  • by mentil ( 1748130 ) on Thursday May 10, 2018 @07:33AM (#56587026)

    The 'error' is due to real hurricanes failing to comply with the NHC's demands. Young, budding hurricanes will be imaged and scrutinized in extreme graphic detail to force the fully-grown hurricanes to step into line. Don't even ASK about the NHC's usage of things like 'spinning', 'blowing' and 'torrential showers' to bend poor hurricanes to their will. What, you thought they did those things of their own free will?! The freedom fighters end up on Youtube, but the revolution will not be televised on The Weather Channel.

  • So we have 3 extra days to save our stuff before our house gets destroyed.

  • by roccomaglio ( 520780 ) on Thursday May 10, 2018 @09:52AM (#56587552)

    Irma was forecast to go up off the east coast of Florida. Then the track moved westward until it was in the Gulf of Mexico. Then Irma's path moved back east before the storm finally came up the west coast of Florida. This caused many people from the east coast of Florida to evacuate to the west coast of Florida which was directly in the hurricane's path.

    The forecasting is still not accurate enough for you to safely evacuate and stay in Florida. The majority of hotel rooms in Florida are on the coast. You can evacuate and find yourself in the direct path of the storm in a hotel on the beach.

    • The forecasting is still not accurate enough for you to safely evacuate and stay in Florida.

      You're not familiar with hurricanes, are you? At it's widest, Florida is about 130 miles wide. Since you're seemingly unaware of how big hurricanes are, here's a (shitty) graphic for you [crunchyroll.com]. The deadliest part of the hurricane, the eye, is usually 20-40 miles in diameter. And yes, you do not want to go through the eye. But the rest of the hurricane isn't a fucking joke. Hurricane force winds generally extend 100 miles from the eye, and you'll note that a mid-range eye plus 100 miles is about the diameter of Florida.

      If the eye of the hurricane looks like it's going to come near any part of Florida, it's not safe to "evacuate" to another part of Florida. Florida is smaller than a small hurricane, and tiny compared to a big one.

      Hurricane forecasting is plenty good enough to stay safe right now. You just need to see the hurricane coming and get like 400 miles away from it. "Evacuating and staying in Florida" is like seeing a bull charging you from across a field and walking 10' to the left. Sure, if you're fast and you do it at the last minute, that might work. Your timing needs to be damn good, and you need to be able to do it quickly, but when a 50 other people are trying to do the same thing, you're likely fucked. A better choice is to just get the hell out of the field well in advance.

  • by unixcorn ( 120825 ) on Thursday May 10, 2018 @09:54AM (#56587572)

    While I applaud the efforts of all those involved in improving forecasts, when it comes to evacuations, this still isn't enough. Remember the last hurricane that hit Florida? If you do, you will also remember the gridlock on the highways heading north. The problem was the hurricane was predicted to hit south Florida but it veered north, and rolled over all the people that evacuated or were trying to evacuate. Luckily the storm had weakened.
    My point is that 155 miles could mean the difference between some living and some dying because the potential affected area is so large our infrastructure can't handle the millions that are trying to get away from the storm. Additionally, if folks in a major metropolitan area like Miami or Jacksonville are motivated to leave, but the hurricane hits north or south, the folks that really need to leave can't.
    I'm not sure what the solution is but we can't kid ourselves into thinking "yay, we are masters of the weather" because we aren't. Not even close.

    • Evacuations are a joke!

      Back when Hurricane Rita hit Texas in 2005, about a 100 people died as a result from the gridlock [wikipedia.org] of everyone jumping on the interstates all at once. By contrast, Harvey was a far more horrific storm with trillions of gallons of rainwater leading to massive flooding; official death toll is 88.

    • My point is that 155 miles could mean the difference between some living and some dying...

      As I pointed out to a poster above, that's about half the diameter of a hurricane.

      +/- 155 miles is still hurricane. People need to stop thinking that a hurricane is like a tornado, and it's going to swing by and "narrowly miss them". About the only thing big enough for a hurricane to narrowly miss is a continent.

      Remember the last hurricane that hit Florida? If you do, you will also remember the gridlock on the highways heading north. The problem was the hurricane was predicted to hit south Florida but it veered north, and rolled over all the people that evacuated or were trying to evacuate.

      I just don't get the mentality of people. If you're going to evacuate, you have to understand you're evacuating a storm with hurricane force winds 200+ miles in diameter. If you're not double that d

      • As someone who lived in Florida and rode out Hurricane Andrew in West Palm Beach, I can tell you with 100% certainty that the 170 miles between Homestead and West Palm was the difference between just wind and rain versus winds powerful enough to break slash pine trees like toothpicks. I had the privilege/horror to drive to South Miami the following week to estimate work and the damage was unfathomable. So while the clouds, wind and rain may appear to cover the state, there is a huge difference in destructiv

        • Thank you for supporting my point.

          Had Andrew been half its width further north, the eye would have crossed West Palm Beach.

          I'm not sure how realistic it is to insist that we be able to predict the path of a 400 mile wide monster storm to within better than half it's diameter. We can't take measurements in most parts of it, and thus we can only really guess at the dynamics of it. Sure, better models help, but without data to feed those models, we're nearing the limits of what we can do for forecasting.

          Even i

  • A self-referential AI feedback loop.
  • by darkain ( 749283 ) on Thursday May 10, 2018 @11:52AM (#56588494) Homepage

    Let us take a moment to remember the Earth Simulator, at its time it was the fastest super computer in the world and built specifically for global weather pattern simulations. Super computers obviously have come a long way since then, but this one specifically marked a major milestone in large computing power.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser

Working...