Why do some clusters of Atlantic thunderstorms organize themselves into hurricanes and others do not? Researchers can tell you, in general, the conditions that encourage hurricane formation — such as warm seas and vertically stable winds — but that is not the same thing as knowing which clouds are going to work themselves into a troublesome tropical monster.
Three aircraft are taking to the skies over the tropical Atlantic next month in an ambitious field project designed to directly attack this question — what principal investor Christopher Davis of the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, describes as “one of the long-standing mysteries about hurricanes.”
In the video below, Davis delivers a great explanation of science and logistics of PREDICT — the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics, which begins in August and runs through the middle of September, the height of the hurricane season. In addition to NCAR’s Gulfstream V research plane, based on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands, the project will deploy aircraft from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.
IMAGE AND VIDEO: National Center for Atmospheric Research