Predicting the intensity of tropical cyclones

Review written by Jaydeep Singh (MAT)

Forecasting the trajectory of tropical cyclones (TC), which are known as hurricanes when they appear in the Atlantic, remains an urgent meteorological challenge. The difficulties in TC prediction were laid bare during 2019’s Hurricane Dorian, a devastating Category 5 storm that swept through the Bahamas and the Southeastern United States. Like many Atlantic storms before it, Dorian underwent the process of rapid intensification (RI), catching scientists off guard with consecutive daily wind strength increases of over 30mph. The effect? Dorian transformed from a Category 2 to Category 5 storm in only two days. The staggering intensification of Atlantic storms raises the following question: what is the science behind these RI events, and how predictable are they?

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