New NASA Research Tool Could Predict Hurricane Storm Surge

NASA says a new research tool that flies high above big storms could eventually help forecasters make more accurate predictions on hurricane intensity and where dangerous storm surge could wash inland. As Jack Williams reports, “HIRAD” got its first real test a week and a half ago.

Dr. Timothy Miller
NASA’s Dr. Timothy Miller

“The three boxes you see have various functions. This is a GPS-INS box.”

Dr. Timothy Miller stands next to a rectangular pallet full of wires and electrical boxes on the floor of a NASA hanger at Ellington Field.

The WB-57 is one of three aircraft that are part of the GRIP program. A DC-8 actually flies into the storms and an  unmanned drone collects data over longer periods. Shelly Baccus is a project manager for NASA’s high altitude research program.

“I think people often forget that the Johnson Space Center, the focus is usually on space flight and people don’t realize that we have aircraft operations flying out of Houston and we’re doing scientific work as well. And so I think it’s a good reminder that we’re doing a lot of different things at NASA and with NASA’s aircraft.”

HIRAD is still in its infancy and researchers haven’t been able to access data from Hurricane Earl yet. But they hope within a few years, it will be an important part of making hurricane forecasting even more accurate.   

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