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Mean streak: hurricane season roars along.

Robert W. Burpee, the new director of the National Hurricane Center in Miami, has endured a trial by storm. With a month still to go in his first season on the job, the Atlantic Ocean had produced seven hurricanes and six named tropical storms, making this year, as of Sept. 26, the third most active hurricane season in 125 years of records.

Burpee and other weather officials gathered in Washington, D.C., last week to review the storms thus far and to tout several major advances in hurricane forecasting. "This storm prediction season has been very, very good," said Joe Friday, director of the National Weather Service in Silver Spring, Md. "We're seeing the benefits of new observing tools, new computer models, and new procedures that we're using at the hurricane center."

One of the new tools, the GOES-8 weather satellite, gives the weather service more detailed images of the tropical Atlantic, the breeding ground for hurricanes. The hurricane center also started using an improved computer forecasting model this year, boosting the accuracy of its forecasts by 20 percent in some cases.

The weather service this summer flew its two P-3 aircraft on simultaneous crisscrossing flights into several hurricanes, giving them more information than routine hurricane research flights usually produce. "These are the most complete pictures of hurricanes that we have ever obtained," said Hugh E. Willoughby, acting director of the Hurricane Research Division in Miami.

Hurricane reconnaissance will improve next year, when the weather service acquires a Gulfstream jet. The jet can fly at 45,000 feet, much higher than the turbo-propeller P-3s. The lofty vantage point will enable scientists to survey the tops of hurricanes, where upper-level winds help steer storms.
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Title Annotation:Science News of the Week; 1995 hurricane season is the third most active season in 125 years
Author:Monastersky, Richard
Publication:Science News
Date:Sep 30, 1995
Previous Article:Can't take the heat; don't enter the nest.
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