Published October 31, 2012
Superstorm Sandy lived up to the predictions that weather forecasters laid out days in advance.
"In all regards, it was extremely well forecast," said Brian McNoldy, a weather researcher at the University of Miami. "Intensity and track, and then the impacts were pretty well expected."
For several of the outcomes, the reality of Hurricane Sandy lived up to the hype:
A few predictions missed the mark:
The forecasts were so accurate in part because of improvements in computer models that predict the behavior of weather patterns in the atmosphere, said Louis Uccellini, a meteorologist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
"Even 15 or 20 years ago, we would not have been able to do this," Uccellini told LiveScience.
In the days before Sandy, the weather service also increased its measurements, deploying 150 storm sensors to measure ocean conditions; the service also stepped up measurements in the atmosphere.
For instance, meteorologists routinely launch two weather balloons a day at certain sites across the U.S., McNoldy told LiveScience.
"For the few days leading up to the landfall, they were launching them four times a day, and that's to hopefully allow the computer models to be more accurate," he said.
They also increased the number of aircrafts flying into the weather pattern to improve the models, he said.
And the widespread use of satellites has dramatically improved predictions, said Cliff Mass, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Before then, scientists relied on a few ships sailing the vast oceans to report big storms, Mass told LiveScience.
"Now we know what's going on over the ocean," he said.
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