Here we are, the last Friday in June, which means two things: we're almost one month into hurricane season and it's time for the NEQ Friday Review. Today I'll review a new insight into hurricanes that may help forecasters predict the extent of damaging winds and waves as a result of the fiercest of tropical cyclones.
Two of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) researchers, Kenneth Oslund and Philip Callahan, have developed a technique using wave height measurements from satellite altimeters to study Atlantic v.s Pacific hurricanes. They did so by combining data from multiple satellite passes over a variety of category 3 or higher storms to create composite views, or templates, of 'typical' hurricanes.
The results of their efforts support that, although equally as strong, Atlantic hurricanes are generally smaller in size than their Pacific counterparts – a likely result of higher oceanic heat content in the Pacific. In fact, storm-generated waves from Pacific hurricanes extend, on average, a distance of over 120 miles further from the storm center than those of Atlantic storms.
Interesting, the study also proved that a hurricane's strongest winds, those that create the highest waves, occur in the right front quarter of the storm – this, my friends, is also considered The Northeast Quadrant – and is one of the roots of this blog's namesake!
Check out a more in-depth look into the satellite wave data project here.
Enjoy your weekend, and remember, the 2005 hurricane season, the most active in history, didn't spin up its first hurricane until July 4 weekend. Be ready!