NASA Has Eyes On The Atlantic Hurricane Season

Narration: LK Ward


[00:00:01:000] In 2018, Hurricanes Florence and Michael made catastrophic landfalls over the United States.

[00:00:06:276] They caused extreme flooding, record-breaking winds,

[00:00:10:114] and storm surges that devastated communities.

[00:00:13:183] Understanding how hurricanes behave is critical to saving lives.

[00:00:18:120] How a hurricane forms, develops and dissipates

[00:00:21:108] is a complex problem though;

[00:00:23:120] it involves many different processes that are highly interconnected.

[00:00:27:840] But from space and the air, NASA satellites and aircraft

[00:00:31:159] can break down the underlying physics by monitoring each component of a hurricane.

[00:00:37:114] There are key ingredients for hurricanes to form.

[00:00:40:225] First, we need warm waters that provide fuel for the storms.

[00:00:44:780] Water evaporates from the warm ocean

[00:00:47:105] and creates humid air, which then rises and cools to form clouds and rain.

[00:00:51:258] 3D structures to look for inside storms are long rain bands and a near-circular eyewall.

[00:00:58:540] The warmer the ocean, the stronger the storm can be,

[00:01:01:150] which often means heavy rainfall

[00:01:03:240] and extreme winds.

[00:01:06:000] Understanding each component is just part of the puzzle.

[00:01:09:144] The key is to figure out how they fit together and to do this, scientists step into the digital world.

[00:01:15:186] This is a computer-generated model of a hurricane.

[00:01:18:297] Inside this digital environment, the atmosphere is programmed to behave

[00:01:24:210] as much as possible like the real world, governed by the laws of physics.

[00:01:28:132] What makes this a valuable research tool is that scientists can put satellite observations

[00:01:34:600] into this digital world to see how the entire system evolves.

[00:01:38:120] The impact of a hurricane lasts long after the storm has dissipated.

[00:01:43:660] Satellites and aircraft can also be used to monitor damage and recovery.

[00:01:47:246] In 2017, Hurricane Maria caused the longest electric power blackout

[00:01:54:360] in U.S. history in Puerto Rico.

[00:01:56:270] Over the following year, satellite data helped first responders

[00:01:59:297] monitor where and when power was restored.

[00:02:02:234] And after Hurricane Maria, aircraft were used to map the island's recovering forests.

[00:02:08:900] Satellites, aircraft, and computer models help us understand each stage of a hurricane including the aftermath.

[00:02:16:780] As we learn more, not only will other agencies better forecast weather,

[00:02:21:300] but communities will have more time to prepare and evacuate

[00:02:24:267] from potentially dangerous storms.