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SE Regional Climate Center
2221 Devine St., Suite 222
Columbia, SC 29205
Toll Free:
1-866-845-1553
Phone:
803-734-9560
          
803-734-9559
Fax:
803-734-9573
sercc@dnr.state.sc.us

 

 

Southern AER

A Quarterly Activity Bulletin of The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources-Southeast Regional Climate Center
Summer 1999
Volume 6, No. 2

Hurricane Tracking

Information about Hurricanes

Hurricanes are extremely powerful storms that threaten the Southeast coast of the United States. Hurricane season is June 1 - November 30. During this time each year, these powerful storms that originate off the coast of Africa, in the Gulf of Mexico and the Carribean follow warm ocean currents and sometimes make landfall. The Gulf Stream, a warm current that flows northward parallel to the Southeast coast of the US, often leads the storms onto the coast. The states in the Southern US that border the Atlantic ocean and Gulf of Mexico are most often effected by these hurricanes. These states include: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. Since coastal regions are densely populated, especially during summer vacation when hurricanes are the greatest threat, it is very important that the paths of these powerful storms are tracked and forecast. This ensures that when landfall becomes a possibility, people know to evacuate the coast and travel inland to safety. The tracking and forecasting of these storms is an extremely important job performed by meteorologists. For more information about hurricanes, click here.

Hurricane Tracking Tools

There are many tools used by meteorologists to track hurricanes. Radar, Satellite Imagery, reports from weather buoys, and observations taken by airplane are all useful tools used in determining the size, location, and magnitude of hurricanes.

Radar stands for Radio Detection And Ranging. It works by sending out a radio wave in a circular path. Part of the signal bounces back to the radar when it hits raindrops. By knowing where on the circular path the raindrops are being hit and how fast the signal is traveling, the location of the rain can be determined.

Satellites are man made devices that are launched into space and used to monitor the earth. Weather satellites are used to take pictures of the atmosphere from above. These satellite images are useful for determining the location and size of storms.

Weather observations are taken from many different locations in the ocean by buoys. These floats are placed in the ocean to make measurements of atmospheric pressure, air and sea temperature, wind speed, and wind direction as they drift along in ocean currents. The measurements listed on buoy reports are important in accessing the strength and location of hurricanes.

Airplane observations are also used when gathering information about hurricanes. The airplanes actually fly directly into the eye of hurricanes. Once inside the hurricane, weather reconnaissance aircraft report several types of observations such as the exact location of the hurricane, and sea level pressure.

Using Map Skills to Track Hurricanes

In addition to the tools used above, hurricanes can also be tracked by simply using a map and map reading skills. The position of the hurricane is made available to the public and can be found in newspapers, on the Internet, and on television. With this information available, the hurricane track can be plotted on a map by the latitude and longitude coordinates.

Latitude and Longitude

Latitude and Longitude lines are imaginary lines on the earth that are used to measure locations on the globe. These lines are measured in degrees, minutes, and seconds. Lines of Latitude, also called parallels, run horizontally on the globe, north and south of the Equator. The Equator is latitude zero, and the North and South Poles lie at 90 degrees North and 90 degrees South. Lines of Longitude, also called meridians, run vertically on the globe, east and west of the Prime Meridian. The Prime Meridian is longitude zero, and the longitude of other locations are referenced by whether they are east or west of the Prime Meridian. Often, rather than spelling out North, South, East and West, coordinates for locations north of the equator and east of the prime meridian are shown as positive, and coordinates for locations south of the equator and west of the prime meridian are shown as negative. When coordinates are given as a pair, the first number is the latitude, and the second number is the longitude. For example, 14.6, - 46.2 is 14.6 degrees north latitude, and 46.2 degrees west longitude.

Activity

Below is a table of coordinates from Hurricane Floyd (September 7-17, 1999) that made landfall in North Carolina. Track the coordinates on the hurricane tracking chart provided by NOAA.

Hurricane FLOYD Tracking Information

LATITUDE

LONGITUDE

Date/Time

WIND (Knots)

Pressure

Storm Status

14.6

-46.2

09/07/21Z

25

1008

TROPICAL DEPRESSION

15.8

-50

09/08/15Z

40

1003

TROPICAL STORM

17.3

-54.6

09/09/09Z

50

1003

TROPICAL STORM

18.2

-57.2

09/10/00Z

60

995

TROPICAL STORM

18.9

-58.7

09/10/09Z

60

985

TROPICAL STORM

19.9

-59.7

09/10/18Z

70

989

HURRICANE-1

21.1

-60.8

09/11/03Z

80

971

HURRICANE-1

22.7

-63.5

09/11/21Z

95

966

HURRICANE-2

23

-66.6

09/12/15Z

105

955

HURRICANE-3

23.5

-68.7

09/13/00Z

125

932

HURRICANE-4

23.7

-70.6

09/13/09Z

135

922

HURRICANE-4

24.2

-73

09/13/18Z

135

926

HURRICANE-4

24.5

-74.7

09/14/03Z

135

924

HURRICANE-4

25.4

-76.2

09/14/12Z

130

929

HURRICANE-4

26.5

-77.4

09/14/21Z

120

929

HURRICANE-4

28.2

-78.5

09/15/06Z

120

935

HURRICANE-4

29.9

-79

09/15/15Z

110

943

HURRICANE-3

31.3

-79

09/15/21Z

100

949

HURRICANE-3

32.9

-78.3

09/16/03Z

100

952

HURRICANE-3

34.5

-77.6

09/16/09Z

90

956

HURRICANE-2

36.8

-76

09/16/15Z

70

967

HURRICANE-1

41.7

-72.2

09/17/03Z

50

980

TROPICAL STORM

43.5

-70.8

09/17/09Z

50

984

TROPICAL STORM

Permission is granted for the reproduction of materials contained in this bulletin.

Southern AER
Southeast Regional Climate Center
S.C. Department of Natural Resources
1201 Main Street, Suite 1100
Columbia, South Carolina 29201

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, disability, religion, or age. Direct all inquiries to the Office of Human Resources, P.O. Box 167, Columbia, SC 29202.

 

 

sercc@dnr.state.sc.us