Landfall predictions are part of new hurricane prediction model

Posted August 1, 2013 12:16 p.m. EDT
Updated August 1, 2013 6:43 p.m. EDT

— Researchers at Coastal Carolina University on Thursday unveiled a new model for predicting hurricane landfalls that combines the standard method of predicting the number of storms in a season with a guess on where those storms may make landfall. 

Called "Hugo," after the infamous storm that ravaged parts of South Carolina and North Carolina in 1989, Coastal Carolina's Hurricane Genesis and Outlook model uses historical data from as far back as 1950 to predict the number of East Coast and Gulf Coast landfalls.

In 2013, researchers predict that the most likely scenario is one storm will make landfall on both the East Coast and Gulf Coast. They also foresee 13 to 17 named storms, six to nine hurricanes and three to four major hurricanes.

The historical data includes the number of storms per year, the conditions when those storms formed, how strong those storms became and where they eventually made landfall. The model unveiled Thursday will also predict the track and intensity of incoming hurricanes five days before landfall, giving emergency management officials a chance to prepare for probable storm surge and inundation. 

"We believe it will improve tremendously track and intensity forecasting, what the surge will be, where, when and how high," Len Pietrafesa, the program's director, said. 

North Carolina State University researchers in April predicted 13 to 17 named storms, seven to 10 hurricanes and three to six major storms.

NCSU's methodology evaluates data from the last 100 years on Atlantic Ocean hurricane positions and intensity, as well as variables including weather patterns and sea-surface temperatures, to predict how many storms will form and where they might make landfall.

Coastal Carolina University is located in Conway, S.C.