The Pulse of Hurricanes
Hurricanes are the most damaging and most massive storms on Earth. They cause huge economic damages, while killing thousands of people every year. While the forecasts of the direction of motion of hurricanes is fairly well predicted, the forecasts of the intensity of the storms in the future is not well predicted. We are working on ways to better improve the forecasts of hurricane intensity in the coming 24-48 hours. In the Atlantic Ocean most of these tropical storms start off as clusters of thunderstorms over Africa. We are looking at the cloud cover and lightning activity over Africa to better understand which clusters will eventually develop into hurricanes.
In addition, we are using lightning data within hurricanes to better understand the development of these monster storms. We have found that the electrical activity within the hurricanes reaches a peak 30 hours BEFORE the maximum sustained winds in the eye of the hurricane. This research has been conducted over the years with graduate students Mustafa Asfur, Naama Reicher and Shay Frenkel.