Improved predictions for 2009 hurricanes: Vaisala

Tucson, AZ, (Aug. 17, 2009) – With impending storms Bill, Ana, and Claudette, the National Hurricane Center (NHC) team is utilizing technology from Vaisala and is prepared to meet their important mission: to save lives, mitigate property loss, and improve economic efficiency by issuing the best watches, warnings, forecasts and analyses of hazardous tropical weather, and by increasing understanding. A primary weather measurement tool for NHC’s hurricane prediction is Vaisala’s dropsonde. The dropsonde is a critical meteorological instrument released by “Hurricane Hunters” from an aircraft flying above a hurricane, which then descends through the hurricane by a special parachute and transmits meteorological data.

The NHC also receives long range lightning data through the National Weather Service (NWS) contract with Vaisala. NHC tropical cyclone and marine forecasters have found that enhanced lightning activity in tropical cyclones appears to occur at certain times within their life cycle, such as when strong tropical storms are on the verge of reaching hurricane status, and when strong hurricanes undergo significant changes in their internal structure. It has also become apparent that tropical cyclones are more prolific lightning producers than previously thought, and that periods of enhanced lightning do not occur randomly.

Vaisala has now expanded sensor technology into the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico areas to increase detection for coastal and tropical storms. With the increased area of lightning measurement over of the Atlantic, combined with dropsonde transmissions, NHC forecasters will have more data for monitoring tropical cyclones during the 2009 hurricane season. These data will also allow further investigation of the relationship between lightning trends and tropical cyclone intensity changes, with the hope of improving future intensity forecasts.

About Vaisala Group

Vaisala is a global leader in environmental and industrial measurement. Building on more than 70 years of experience, Vaisala contributes to a better quality of life by providing a comprehensive range of innovative observation and measurement products and services for meteorology, weather critical operations and controlled environments. Headquartered in Finland, Vaisala employs over 1200 professionals worldwide and is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Helsinki.

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