Monthly Discussion Banner

What technological or systemic improvements are needed to aid in hurricane and disaster-related homeland defense?

Discussion Leader: 
Posted Date: 06/06/2016

June 1 marked the official beginning of the Atlantic Hurricane season. What technological or systemic improvements are needed to aid in hurricane and disaster-related homeland defense?

Hurricanes Karl, Igor and Julia were part of the onslaught of Atlantic storms. Image courtesy of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration


The appearance of external hyperlinks in this publication does not constitute endorsement by the HDIAC or the United States Department of Defense (DoD) of the linked sites, nor the information, products, or services contained therein. The HDIAC is a DOD sponsored Information Analysis Center (IAC), with policy oversight provided by the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering (ASD(R&E)), and administratively managed by the Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC). Reference herein to any specific commercial products, process, or services by trade name, trademark, manufacturer, or otherwise, does not necessarily constitute or imply its endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by the United States Government or the HDIAC. Any views or opinions expressed in the Question of the Week do not represent those of HDIAC, DTIC or the DoD.



Hurricane forecasting has made significant advancements in the last decade specifically from the time of impact out to 3 days. Better resolutions beyond 72 hours to landfall could go a long way to aid in hurricane and disaster-related homeland defense. National funding to federal atmospheric science organizations like NOAA/NWS and NASA must continue.

NOAA has established the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Program (HFIP) in 2013 with the overall goal of the project is to achieve a 50% improvement in hurricane numerical forecast guidance provided by the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) to the National Hurricane Center (NHC). This improvement in guidance is for both track and intensity. HFIP also includes goals for predicting rapid intensification and for extending forecast guidance out to seven days.

In 2014, NASA redoubled its efforts since 2012 to probe the inner workings of hurricanes and tropical storms with two unmanned Global Hawk aircraft flying over storms and two new space-based missions. NASA's airborne Hurricane and Severe Storm Sentinel (HS3) mission has supplied critical data to the global weather community for upgrades to hurricane forecasting algorithms. Observational weather data including winds, pressure, temperature, and humidity at various altitudes are important contributions to computer models that then try to predict movements and intensity changes of the seemingly tempermental tropical systems. 

Initiatives by federal organizations like NOAA/NWS and NASA along with computer processing advancements will lead to hurricane forecasting accuracy increases. More lead-time given to impacted areas will aid in hurricane and disaster-related homeland defense. 

Natural disasters are difficult to deal with and luckily with advancements in storm tracking and meteorology, it has become easier to predict impending natural disasters. The United States and major metropolitan cities need to be prepared when an evacuation is necessary. One of the challenges that should be accounted for are the large number of people that will be evacuating at one time. There should be designated evacuation routes for different areas set up so major arteries are not blocked in the city, and people are employing all routes to evacuate. This will prevent major delays and traffic jams. Another consideration to keep in mind is to help individuals who are unable to move and do not have the means such as people in hospitals or other care facilities. A plan to help those individuals before natural disasters strike will reduce the need for emergency rescue teams in dangerous conditions. Nothing can prevent a natural disaster, but we as a nation can be prepared to minimize the damage and disruption to our daily lives. 

Mark Diglio Computer advancements continue to raise the bar in very complex prediction modeling. The last several years, the European models have bested the US models. Similar investments are due for US models. More accuracy in predicted storm track and strength is a left-of-boom way to save lives. These same models can improve winter storm tracks/impacts/predictions too.

Often it is not the hurricane, but the storm surge and tide combination that does the most damage via flooding and folks swept out to sea that takes the most lives. Satellite imagery and aircraft meteorologist reconnaissance in the eye only go so far. In my layman’s opinion, I think more investment in further model prediction improvements and rapid reporting-information flow available to warn the public and authorities have the most room to aid in this effort. 

Disaster relief wise improvements in getting perishable supplies (water/food), shelter and power restored as soon as possible should be a high priority.

Hi Mark,

Thank you for your reply. For HDIAC group members that aren't familiar, what are the major differences between US and European models? 

Also, are you aware of any specific work being done in the areas in which you see the most need?

Thank you.