Learning from Irene to Better Predict Storms

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By WXedge Staff on November 4, 2011, 12:00am

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It's clear how Irene has impacted our lives in so many ways. But for our Storm Team 8 meteorologists its aftermath takes on a different meaning. It serves as a learning curve to help predict what may happen the next time around.

The next time could be a decade from now or just around the corner. It's just the nature of the beast because as we know predicting the weather isn't easy. But with the right tools and strong knowledge base it can be done.

"I don't think we exaggerated what had happened and I don't think we missed the forecast either," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Steve MacLaughlin said. "I think here in Connecticut we were really, really well prepared days in advance."

But there are ways to learn from past storms to better determine what the future will hold, and Tropical Storm Irene is no exception.

"I think getting to see first hand the way the winds combining with the water - that storm surge - that can really impact those coastal communities - I think it is something we will remember for the rest of our careers," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Erica Grow said.

That first-hand experience is invaluable for these men and women who dedicate themselves to forecasting the weather. Meteorologists use these nuggets of information to help fine-tune their skills and pass the knowledge on to viewers.

"Hopefully over the years as the computer models improve we can get a more precise forecast so that way property can be protected and lives can be protected," Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Steve Villanueva said.

But lessons learned from Irene go well beyond the scope of storms like this. It provides a window into other phenomena as well. Case in point is our recent October snow; an important reminder as winter fast approaches.

"We've had storms about that strong during the winter," said Storm Team 8 Meteorologist Gil Simmons said. "When we get a Nor'easter -- that northeast wind right down the sound -- you can get huge waves. Combine that with high tides and a new moon phase and you can get tremendous damage."

Potentially an important lesson to live by.

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WXedge Staff

Town: New Haven, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since February 2012.

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