Scientists across the US Tracking and Monitoring Hurricane Irene

Over the past few days Hurricane Irene has been making landfall off the Eastern Coast of America, in North Carolina and Virginia, New Jersey, and New York. The whole time, scientists from various institutions across the country have been monitoring, tracking, and investigating the hurricane.

Penn State Real-Time Hurricane Tracker

Fuqing Zhang, professor of meteorology and statistics and E. Willard & Ruby S. Miller Faculty Fellow at Pennsylvania State University, has developed a computer model that can predict the path and strength of a hurricane in real-time.

This tracker can be viewed here, and includes what some experts consider the most accurate real-time predictions of hurricanes available.

Currently there are two hurricanes to choose from – Irene and Jose – and there are several images to view. The bottom right image shows the current location of the hurricane, while the top left image indicates a variety of computer and human predictions for the hurricanes path. The upper right and lower left images refer to predicted wind speeds.

Source: Pennsylvania State University

Notre Dame Researcher Observing Storm Surge

Andrew Kennedy, a researcher in the University of Notre Dame’s Department of Civil Engineering and Geological Sciences, rushed to the outer banks of North Carolina on August 25 on a helicopter to deploy wave and surge gauges in preparation to collect data of Hurricane Irene’s storm surge.

“Irene looks likely to have large impacts in North Carolina and I am at the outer banks to deploy wave/surge gauges with some local North Carolina researchers with whom I have worked before,” Kennedy said.

“Depending on landfall location and strength, there is potential for a new inlet to be created as a barrier island is cut, and strong to severe building damage. Irene is large and strong and the best hope for North Carolina is that it goes offshore. If it does, though, it will just push the problem north to New York or New England, so someone is going to get hit badly.”

Source: University of Notre Dame

Stevens Institute of Technology Watching the Storm

Ocean researchers at the Stevens Institute of Technology Center for Maritime Systems (CMS), who manage a large number of submerged sensors throughout the New York Harbour region from the South Jersey shore to the eastern end of Long Island and north up the Hudson River, have been in their laboratory helping to predict the impact of Hurricane Irene.

Calculating wind speed, size, and location of a storm are only part of the equation, according to Stevens researchers.

“We’re also looking at lunar activity and erosion as important elements when factoring what we can expect from a storm like Irene,” says Dr. Alan Blumberg, Director of CMS.

According to Stevens researchers, lunar activity will have played a large part in the intensity of Hurricane Irene.

Irene’s arrival comes at the same time as perigee, when the Moon’s elliptical orbit brings it closest to the Earth, as well as the new moon. Both these positions will have intensified the gravitational effects on the tide, causing greater tidal ranges.

Source: Stevens Institute of Technology

Image Source: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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