CONWAY, S.C. (WMBF) - Forecasting storms and hurricanes months in advance remains incredibly difficult. However, after the destruction of Hurricane Matthew, the focus is now on when the next hurricane will strike our shores.
For years, the National Hurricane Center has put out an outlook highlighting the number of tropical storms and hurricanes that will form.
Going even more in depth with the data, CCU Scientists Dr. Shaowu Bao, Dr. Len Pietrafesa and their colleagues have been working on an outlook that also includes how many of those tropical systems will make landfall.
And they've had some success, with Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew verifying their hurricane landfall forecast for 2016.
Dr. Shaowu Bao explained how their forecast is different than other outlooks.
"In total, we include 22 global climate factors in this regression model," Dr. Bao said.
Their research isn't only to nail the number of storms correctly, but to also have an idea of what a storm will do, after it forms.
Dr. Bao, an atmospheric scientist with CCU, said, "The goal is to provide an end to end forecasting system. So from the seasonal outlook to the deterministic modeling Forecast of individual storms including its track, its wind speeds, landfall locations, rainfall, inundation, and inland flooding."
Dr. Bao hopes that forecast will provide emergency managers and decision makers better confidence as to the track and impacts of tropical storms.
CCU'S current forecast for 2017 is now slightly below average tropical activity. Researchers say there will be eleven named storms, five becoming hurricanes, two reaching major hurricane strength. As for landfalling storms, they predict one on the east coast and one landfall in the Gulf of Mexico.
Remember to download the WMBF First Alert Weather App with that tropical tracker feature to help you stay ahead of any storm.
As for the difference between a seasonal climate outlook and a daily weather forecast, there are two different time frames of forecasting
From rainy car rides to work to sunny days at the beach, weather affects us every day.
Climate, on the other hand, takes into account our overall atmospheric pattern over a long period of time.
We use climate patterns to try to gauge how cold a winter or wet a spring may be, but for our area, the Atlantic hurricane outlook is the most concerning.
Scientists at CCU describe how their hurricane model is making strides in the climate forecasting community, by adding in data on how the land, sea, and air all communicate.
Len Pietrafesa, a CCU Burroughs and Chapin Scholar, explained: "It is an outcome of the fact that the ocean, atmosphere and land do not function independently. They are coupled systems. And so as Shaowu described, this coupled system allows us to couple, in the best way that we've been able to figure out, how the physics and the thermodynamics actually work."
One of those elements Dr Pietrafesa described, how much snow cover North America gets, plays a role in hurricane season. His team's work and data determined that the more snow across the continent in winter, the less likely hurricanes would be.
There are many other climate factors in play, each influencing our weather to a varying degree.