Hurricane and tropical meteorology summit comes to Ponte Vedra

Renowned scientist gather to talk hurricanes

By Rebecca Barry - Meteorologist, Mark Collins - Meteorologist
NOAA-NASA GOES Project via Getty Images

The 400-mile-wide Hurricane Irma pummels Florida from the Keys and up the Atlantic coast with winds up to 130 mph.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The third week in April will be a big one for the meteorological world as renowned scientists from all disciplines of weather descend on Ponte Vedra for the 33rd annual Conference on Hurricanes and Tropical Meteorology organized by the American Meteorological Society. 

Monday kicks off with a focus on the seasonal long range forecasts that we see predicting how active a season will be. The forecasts were pioneered by the late Dr William Gray of Colorado State University. Dr Philip Klotzbach inherited the program and is presenting two sessions on Monday. Topics range from the relationship between ENSO phases (El Nino and La Nina) and tropical cyclone interactions with Saharan dust storms to improving seasonal forecasting using redundancy analysis.

One highlight of Monday's afternoon session is a presentation on climate factors contributing to extreme activity in the 2017 hurricane season. This is part of a larger session with the theme focused on improving hurricane forecasting. 

Tuesday has a recurring theme throughout the day's session with multiple meetings focused on the structure of tropical cyclones and the high impact of the 2017 hurricane season. Within the latter, several presenters and papers will show research about Hurricane Irma, from a study on evacuation decisions and social connectedness to reconciling the intensity estimates vs the observed wind speeds. One session our local meteorologists are especially interested in is the study of severe weather impacts produced by landfalling hurricanes in the 2017 season, which would concern the flooding of the St. Johns River during Irma. 

Wednesday has interesting sessions planned about numerical modeling, which would evaluate factors of the different prediction models meteorologists rely on. Several sessions on Wednesday also relate to the intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes, with sessions focused on external factor influences like upper-tropospheric troughs and cooler air near the top of the Saharan Air Layer, rapid intensification, and boundary layer occurrences. 

Thursday continues with a session relating to the intensity of tropical storms and hurricanes ranging from the impacts of vertical shear to three-dimensional dynamics. There are also a few sessions focusing on rain bands and precipitation within hurricanes, including one exciting session covering how best to utilize the new weather satellite, GOES-16, to analyze and verify rainfall within a tropical cyclone when it is not near a radar site. 

Friday is the final day of the conference and focuses on air-sea interaction in several sessions.The morning session kicks off with a presentation on sea spray transport and also includes an analysis of the ocean spray effects on hurricane dynamics. 

Meteorologist Mark Collins and Chief Meteorologist John Gaughan will be at this conference and they will bring us updates throughout the week on what they learned and what we can expect out of the upcoming hurricane season.

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