Ocean Engineering and Sciences

Tropical Cyclone and Hurricance Research

Hurricance ResearchFlorida Tech tropical cyclone (TC) work involves two distinct areas of applied hurricane research including: 1) high wind/wave forecasting and 2) evaluation of the National Hurricane Center’s wind speed probability forecasts. The hurricane research is geared towards mapping uncertainty in tropical cyclone intensity, wind distribution and track to wave forecasts. Wave model simulations were conducted in a hindcast mode (i.e., after the fact). A computationally efficient method by which to produce tropical cyclone (TC) wind analyses was developed and then tested using 12 Gulf of Mexico hurricanes. Statistics were calculated using a storm-motion relative reference frame and stratified with respect to radial distance from storm center, storm intensity, radius of maximum wind, and storm translation speed. The ultimate goal of this hurricane research is to mitigate significant wave height bias such that the wind forcing can eventually be used to generate ensemble wave simulations.

Collaboration with
the 45th Weather Squadron

Over the last few years, the Florida Institute of Technology has worked in tandem with the 45th Weather Squadron (45th WS) in an area of hurricane research that is key to launch operations here in central Florida (Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Patrick Air Force Base and the Kennedy Space Center). In particular, this hurricane research work directly involves the Tropical Cyclone Wind Speed Probability Forecast Product (WPFP) issued by the National Hurricane Center (NHC). The hurricane research work first began in 2007 in conjunction with a Scitor Corporation internship for former Florida Tech graduate student Jaclyn Shafer. This work was extended and Ms. Shafer earned her Masters Degree in 2008 based on this hurricane research (“A Verification of the National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Cyclone Wind Speed Probability Forecast Product”). Her results were presented at the National Weather Association Conference (2007) in Reno, NV and the Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference (2008) in Charleston, SC. Ms. Shafer also briefed members of the 45th Weather Squadron and the National Hurricane Center in November 2007.

A similar hurricane research project, funded by the 45th WS, supported graduate student Denis Botambekov (2011). His work produced a second Masters thesis (Statistical Evaluation of the National Hurricane Center’s Tropical Cyclone Wind Speed Probability Forecast Product). In his hurricane research, the WPFP data were stratified by storm intensification trends, closest approach, and sub-regions. Our hurricane research work has resulted in a published manuscript in Weather and Forecasting (Splitt et al. 2009) and we are currently in the process of preparing a second manuscript. Our most recent work involves an extension of previous work (i.e., it adds the 2011 TC season as well as a reevaluation using the latest version of the WPFP), an analysis of storm intensity, and a detailed examination of the low probability/long range forecasts. A third graduate student, Sarah Collins, is engaged in this work.


Learn more about the meteorology programs at Florida Tech

BS - Meteorology

MS - Meteorology

Contact Info

Dr. Steven Lazarus
Phone: (321) 394-2160