Posted: 5:15 pm Tuesday, July 27th, 2010

Project to study why some tropical waves become storms and others don’t 

By Eliot Kleinberg

Year after year, meteorologists’ ability to predict where and when a storm will be improves nearly exponentially. But they still are woefully lacking in discerning and forecasting changes in storms’ strength.

A new study will specifically target why some thunderstorms grow into tropical storms while others dissipate.

From Aug. 15 to Sept. 30, the height of hurricane season, the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics, based at St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, will send a Gulfstream V research jet into the tops of storms.

The project is designed to help hurricane researchers take the next step toward a coveted 7-day forecast.

It involves the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) at Colorado State University; University of Miami; Naval Postgraduate School; State University of New York at Albany; University of Illinois; NorthWest Research Associates in Redmond, Wash.; New Mexico Tech, Purdue University, and University of Wisconsin.

It’s mostly financed by the National Science Foundation.

The PREDICT flights will be coordinated each day with flights for two other hurricane studies taking place this summer. NASA is leading a project known as GRIP (Genesis and Rapid Intensification Processes), while the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is leading IFEX (Intensity Forecasting Experiment).