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U Albany professors helping National Hurricane Center track Hurricane Irma

UAlbany professors helping National Hurricane Center track Hurricane Irma (WRGB)

ALBANY, NY (WRGB)-- UAlbany researchers are helping the National Hurricane Center track Hurricane Irma right now and are creating forecast models to try and determine where the superstorm could make landfall.

Brian Tang and Ryan Torn are watching Irma minute-by-minute. The category 5 hurricane is already one of the largest ever measured in the Atlantic.

“Irma is just a monster storm in terms of its’ strength so people need to be taking Irma quite seriously at this time,” Tang said.

Tang created a spaghetti diagram which illustrates the paths different forecast centers are predicting Irma could travel. The black line is the official forecast from the National Hurricane Center.

No forecast model can tell exactly where Irma will go, but right now Tang says all of these show a similar trend.

“Given its’ strength and its’ size there will be some impacts in the southwest United States. That's pretty much assured whether or not it makes landfall,” Tang said.

Torn's mapping is assisting forecasters in a different way.

“These black things here are wind barbs,” Torn said.

He's helping the National Hurricane Center decide where to gather data. Choosing the right collection locations could more precisely determine Irma's path.

“I’ve been providing them information about where to launch their aircraft and where to launch balloons,” Torn said.

Analysis out of Albany could translate into lives saved.

“The more time you give them to prepare, the better,” Tang said.

Torn's suggesting the National Hurricane Center fly aircraft in the Bahamas and the Gulf of Mexico to gather new data tomorrow morning, and fly four weather balloons in the Midwest where another storm could impact Irma.

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