Measuring Salt in the Ocean May Be Key to Predicting Hurricane Intensity


NOAA & Saildrone team up to gather unprecedented extreme weather data

Salt has played an outsized role in human history. This element found in the ocean is now at the heart of new NOAA research that will potentially lead to improved forecasts of the most dangerous hurricanes.

While NOAA has made steady progress in forecasting the track of a hurricane, progress has been slow in improving prediction of what’s called rapid intensification of hurricanes. This is when the maximum wind speeds that drive a hurricane rapidly increase by 35 miles per hour or more in 24 hours or less.

A prime example was Hurricane Michael in 2018, a Category 5 hurricane that came ashore on the Florida Panhandle with 160 mph ferocious winds, leading to 16 deaths and $25 billion in damages.

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