CCU unveils new hurricane prediction method

CONWAY, SC (WMBF) - On Thursday, a team at Coastal Carolina University unveiled their new model for predicting hurricane landfall.

The model, which is unique in the field of hurricane climatology, was explained at a news conference at CCU's Burroughs & Chapin Center for Marine and Wetlands Studies.

The team explained the new methodology and its relevance to hurricane prediction and preparedness, university representatives stated.

Coastal Carolina scientists hope to one day pinpoint what coastlines are most likely to be hit by a hurricane, months in advanced.

A team of Coastal Carolina University researchers say if they can further develop their technique, they could drastically change the time people have to plan for a tropical event.

Every year groups like NOAA make predictions about the upcoming hurricane season.

"There's a number of groups that are using different techniques to come to the same kind of idea, same kind of product," explained Dr. Paul Gayes with the CCU Marine Science Department. CCU's School of Coastal and Marine Systems Science found an opportunity to take a new approach.

"They really didn't have a focus on how many were going to make landfall," said Dr. Len Pietrafesa.

Dr. Pietrafesa says the research team has been using historical hurricane data and what he calls a mathematical tool kit.

They developed a way to predict the probability a hurricane will touch land to test the technique CCU researchers used their method on previous hurricane seasons and then checked those results with actual data.

"Our statistics we feel are so robust, that we were able to do that and only miss by one hurricane per year."

CCU hopes to produce more specific outlooks that show the locations with the highest likelihood of being hit with a hurricane.

"Obviously if we have that kind of information and the more reliable it becomes, then a whole range of interests can make better planning," said Dr. Gayes.

Annual reports are in CCU's plans, and the team hopes their information will help organizations plan and prepare for the threat of a hurricane.

"This helps the state of South Carolina, this helps society. This helps emergency managers," said Dr. Pietrafesa.

"To think a little more about how they marshal resources," added Dr. Gayes.

CCU team of researchers say there is still a lot of work to be done before they can develop the right method for more specific hurricane season outlooks, however, feel confident it could happen within the next two years. For a look at CCU's 2013 outlook visit:

Stay tuned to WMBF News all next week for Hurricane Week - we'll have reports on all aspects of hurricane season, from detection and preparedness to evacuation and recovery.

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