As Florida has seen, which has already caused significant flooding and damage throughout the Fort Meyers region, a team of hurricane research experts in Colorado is continuing their efforts to provide advanced data on the storm and its trajectory.
Colorado State University's Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere lab, also known as CIRA, is one of the preeminent hurricane research facilities in the country. However, many do not realize that some of the most intelligent hurricane researchers are located in landlocked Colorado.
"My joke on that is we know how bad tropical cyclones are and we like to be as far away as humanly possible," said Chris Slocum, Physical Scientist with CSU and CIRA.
Using the most advanced satellites available, the CIRA team at CSU has been tracking and forecasting Hurricane Ian for more than a week already. Their data and forecasts helped emergency responders and meteorologists in the southeast better warn Floridians about the incoming threat well in advance.
"The thunderstorms that make up the eye of Ian got replaced by other thunderstorms. These things all impact the intensity of the storm," Slocum said.
Ian, now a tropical storm, has brought significant wind gusts, flooding, lightning and even tornadoes. Meaning, at times, residents who were just taking lower ground shelter to avoid the threat of tornadoes are then having to seek higher ground to avoid the threat of flooding.
"It is amazing detail to be able to understand the processes going on inside the storm. That is not something we have seen before (with older technology in smaller hurricanes,)" Slocum said. "Ian is fascinating to watch because we have so much data to look at."
Slocum said the work going on in the foothills of Larimer County is directly helping not only emergency response teams and meteorologists, but also the residents in the region who were able to get advanced warnings.
"Having that foresight allows people to start to plan and develop their plan and strategy for, 'Do I need to get out and what do I need to take with me?' That extra lead time is things that people here at CSU and CIRA are helping with," Slocum said. "With our improved forecasts we are able to better prepare for any of those hazards that may show up."
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