How Supercomputers Are Making Hurricane Forecasting Much Easier

Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, tells Inverse increased analysis is only the beginning.

Dorian Upgraded


By Thor Benson on 
With Hurricane Dorian having devastated the Bahamas and beginning to do some damage in Florida, we’re again facing the unfortunate fact that climate change is going to make these kinds of storms more frequent and more deadly. Not only that, climate change researchers believe we’re starting to enter a period where the hurricane season will be significantly longer — meaning Americans in the Southeast and in Puerto Rico will have less time to recover between these potentially catastrophic hurricane seasons.

Don’t curl into a ball and start sucking your thumb, though, because there is some good news: We are getting a lot better at tracking these monsters.

After Hurricane Sandy tore through the East Coast in 2012, Congress approved more than $80 million in supplemental funding for the National Weather Service (NWS) to spend on improving its storm forecasting and tracking capabilities. That money went to investing in supercomputers for the agency and research and development. This investment in supercomputing means the agency can more quickly process information it receives from its storm tracking satellite, the GOES-16 (originally called the GOES-R, and data it receives from buoys, aircrafts, and other sources.

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