With Harvey looming in the Gulf of Mexico, Virginia Tech expert Stephanie Zick notes this year’s forecasts are signaling more hurricane activity because of neutral El Niño conditions and above average sea surface temperatures. “Hurricanes need calm upper-level winds to form and the absence of El Niño’s strong winds will allow more storms to form and those that do form may be more intense,” said Zick.

About Zick

Zick is an assistant professor of meteorology whose research focuses on predicting the intensity of hurricanes. Her research is focused on examining precipitation patterns using satellite imagery.

She has studied every major hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico since 1998. Read her full bio here.

Listen to her on With Good Reason.

Quoting Zick

“Hurricanes with more circular rainfall patterns are likely to intensify, while storms becoming less circular are likely to weaken. Observing the shape give us the opportunity to predict when the storm will intensify because the shape change precedes an intensity change by 3-12 hours.”

“My team believes that forecasters will be able to use spatial measures in conjunction with current forecasting techniques to more accurately forecast structure and intensity at landfall.”

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