NC State researcher says new science will help predict hurricane season 18 months in advance

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RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The start of hurricane season is one month away and past storms haunt North Carolina communities years after they happen.

The earliest forecast of the upcoming season is released about a month and a half in advance.

But new science looks to expand that forecast to a year and a half in advance.

“The important thing is to get right number, one, secondly give the information soon enough, early enough to people who need it,” said Lian Xie.

Xie is a professor of Marine, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at North Carolina State University and a corresponding author of a new publication describing the work.

RELATED: NC State researchers predict above-average Atlantic hurricane season, 15 to 18 named storms

The model incorporates historical data like sea surface temperatures anomalies, El Niño, La Niña and past hurricanes.

This all helps predict what they call “accumulated cyclone energy,” or ACE.

Xie said ACE should predict the hurricane season 18 months in advance.

“The new model looks at data taken from many specific locations, and for each location, it utilizes two data points per month, adding an important spatial component to the forecasting.

The longer lead time you have, the more time you would give people to prepare for what’s going to happen,” said Xie.

Researchers used semi-monthly data from 1951 to 2010 to train the model. Researchers validated their new model in time windows of three, six, nine, 12, and 18 months against seven years of hurricane data.

The 18-month lead time will help government agencies, the tourism industry, corporations, insurance companies, and citizens be better prepared.

The goal is to narrow it down by region and even by state.

“When we can get more specific then it can be more useful for specific states. We really would like to be able to pinpoint more precise locations where we need to pay more attention to,” said Xie.

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