The Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS) “moving nest" Model. Global map showcasing land mass in green and water in black, clouds in white and tropical storms outlined in green boxes representing the moving nest model. Image courtesy of NOAA
July 13 (UPI) -- The National Hurricane Center announced Thursday that it is adopting a new model for storm forecasting ahead of the 2023 season.
The new model, named the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System, had been used in an experimental capacity from 2019 to last year and will run alongside existing models through the 2023 season until ultimately becoming the premier hurricane forecasting model.
HAFS is 10-15% better at predicting a storm's track and better at predicting the rapid intensification of storms than existing models while being as good at forecasting storm intensity, officials said in a news release.
The NOAA hopes to reduce all model forecast errors by half by 2027 compared to 2017, the year Category 4 Hurricane Harvey devastated Texas and Louisiana -- killing 68 people and causing 39 indirect fatalities.
"HAFS was the first model last year to accurately predict that Hurricane Ian would undergo secondary rapid intensification as the storm moved off the coast of Cuba and barreled toward southwest Florida," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Ken Graham, director of NOAA's National Weather Service, said the HAFS model will help officials across the country better safeguard lives and property."HAFS is the result of strong collaborative efforts throughout the science community and marks significant progress in hurricane prediction," he said.
On a landing page at the NOAA website for the program, the agency said the last several hurricane seasons have set records for the number of tropical storms and hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, which "underscore the importance of accurate hurricane forecasting."
Earlier this month, hurricane researchers said they are now predicting an "above-average" season with at least four major hurricanes and 18 named storms after record-warm sea surface temperatures were recorded following previous predictions.