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Hurricane watch: blow by blow

New radar system computerized to track hurricane landfall.

Coastal radar network watching hurricanes Center for Atmospheric research

Climate change predictions have included warnings that hurricanes and other tropical storms could become more extreme. So this may be coming at just the right time to save at least some of you who live along the Gulf and Atlantic coastlines.

Scientists now have a system that uses data from twenty Doppler radar stations along the eastern and southern seaboard of the U.S. When a hurricane's within 120 miles of landfall, the radar data is aggregated. Using a computerized system meteorologists now can get three-dimensional views of the hurricane that are updated every six minutes. This is far more accurate and close to real-time that anything old-fashioned weather plane flights have provided in the past. Nearshore wind speed or direction changes can be spotted.

The new system is called VORTAC, Vortex Objective Radar Tracking and Circulation. It will be used this season by the National Hurricane Center and tested against actual ground data. Just in time. Hurricane season officially begins June 1.