Scientists are launching a major field project next month in the tropical Atlantic Ocean to solve a central mystery of hurricanes: why do certain clusters of tropical thunderstorms grow into the often-deadly storms while many others dissipate? The results should eventually help forecasters provide more advance warning to those in harm’s way. PREDICT, the Pre-Depression Investigation of Cloud Systems in the Tropics, runs from August 15 to September 30, 2010, the height of hurricane season.
These infrared satellite images, captured on August 31, 2007 at (left) 0000 UTC/8:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time and (right) 0600 UTC/2:00 a.m. EDT, show the thunderstorm clusters that led to Hurricane Felix. Just two days later, Felix became a major hurricane. (Images courtesy Naval Research Laboratory.)
By the time of this satellite image—1810 UTC (2:10 p.m. EDT) on August 2, 2007—Felix was a major hurricane, with winds exceeding 130 mph. (Image courtesy NOAA Satellite and Information Service, via Wikipedia.)
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