The importance of weather and climate prediction for saving lives and protecting property has never been greater
Late on the morning of Aug. 30, 2005, I stood with my wife and 5-year-old daughter in the driveway of our property in South Diamondhead, Miss., struggling to accept what we were seeing.
In the place where our nicely furnished, three-story home stood 36 hours earlier, there was only the concrete slab of our foundation.
Fast-forward to 2020, when I served as the deputy administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
Historically, government agencies and departments have taken the lead in protecting the public from extreme weather, but over the past few years, we have seen a “second bold era” in American innovation emerge.
This motivated Congress to establish NOAA’s Commercial Weather Data Program in 2016, with the intent to leverage the growing spaced-based commercial weather data enterprise.
NOAA also recognized the power of the private sector in ocean data collection, leading us to form innovative partnerships with organizations such as Caladan Oceanic, Ocean Infinity, iXblue, Saildrone, Fugro, Viking Cruise Lines and Maersk.
For comparison, let’s go back to my experience with Katrina in 2005. The official three-day track error by the National Hurricane Center for Katrina was 174 nautical miles, at which point the forecast track shifted dramaticallyto the west.
I am exceedingly grateful for the warnings issued by the fine professionals at the Hurricane Center. They did the best they could with the tools they had, and they saved our lives.
What about now?
Nice job, @NHC_Atlantic! 👏👏👏— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) July 7, 2021
This post is for the weather geeks who know how much goes into forecasting a hurricane and how tough it is to predict behavior this many days out. #Elsa pic.twitter.com/HCdBx0wbbd
The biggest challenge with Dorian was intensity prediction.
Even though Atlantic Basin hurricane track errors have decreased from 250 miles three days before landfall 20 years ago to 100 miles today, hurricane intensity forecasts have shown barely any improvement in 30 years.
NOAA’s new partnerships with industry are only just beginning to take hold, and the opportunities for more impactful collaborations are expanding rapidly.
Sofar Ocean is also a rising star in the commercial data world, with plans to add 1,500 of its Spotter metocean buoyst o its global network this year.