A NASA-supported study has introduced a new way to detect lightning outbreaks inside a hurricane from thousands of miles away, giving forecasters new insight into just how powerful an oncoming storm will be.
As a result, researchers can now investigate with greater accuracy how the rate of lightning strikes produced within a hurricane's eyewall is tied to the changing strength of that hurricane. A hurricane's eyewall is the inner heat-driven region of the storm that surrounds the "eye" where the most intense rainfall and most powerful winds occur. By monitoring the intensity of lightning near a hurricane's eye, scientists will be able to improve their forecasts of when a storm will unleash its harshest conditions.
|On Sept. 22, 2005, Hurricane Rita threatened the U.S. Gulf Coast. NASA's TRMM satellite helped create this three-dimensional view of the storm; storm clouds shown here in white.