Earth Institute Research Projects

Hurricane Interactive Track Simulator with Wind and Precipitation Scenarios

Lead PI: Dr. Upmanu Lall , Dr. Yochanan Kushnir

Unit Affiliation: Columbia Water Center (CWC)

Unit Affiliation: Ocean & Climate Physics, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO)

March 2018 - March 2021
North America ; Atlantic Ocean ; United States ; Gulf of Mexico
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: This project represents a collaboration between Columbia University and data-analytics firm Jupiter to improve hurricane track simulations, so that the public and private sectors can plan for weather and climate risks. Columbia’s ground-breaking hurricane and climate science will be added to Jupiter’s ClimateScore Intelligence Platform, which translates research into information that decision-makers can use to manage and mitigate climate change risks. The platform already predicts local probabilities of extreme temperatures and flooding; soon it will include hurricane-related hazards such as heavy winds, rain, and storm surge.

The Hurricane Interactive Track Simulator (HITS,Nakamura et al., 2015) is a data-based, statistical model for the simulation of North Atlantic hurricane tracks. The model uses egments of historical stroms from the NOAA/National Hurricane Center, Best Track data to randomly create synthetic tracks, constrained by transition probabilities based on the age of the storm, vector of movement, and distance. The purpose is to provide a synthetic data set for assessin the risk of landfall. HITS is especially effective near land and in the main development region of Atlantic tropical storms, where there is the densest best track data to train the model. Data constrained models have realistic return periods on both the shorter (1, 5, 10 years) and longer (200, 500, 1000+ year) timescales. In the present project we aim to improving the current HITS model toward allowing operational use in simulating coastal storm surge and in-land, rain induced flooding, based on large-scale, pre-season climate state such as the state of El Niño and the sea surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic.

OUTCOMES: We have created a "climate conditions" version of HITS using the basic statistical procedure of the original model but constraining the selected track input to the simulator based on their likelihood to occur during the pre-season climate conditions. A paper entitled: "C3 HITS: Cluster-based, Climate Conditioned Track Simulator for North Atlantic Tropical Storms" decribing the new model is in preparation.

Blog Post: Predicting Hurricane Flooding Risks to the East Coast


Jupiter Intelligence




Jennifer Nakamura, Naomi Henderson


Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), Ocean & Climate Physics (OCP), School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS)


Nakamura, J., Lall, U., Kushnir, Y., & Camargo, S. J. (2009). Classifying North Atlantic Tropical Cyclone Tracks by Mass Moments. Journal of Climate, 22(20), 5481-5494.


storm tracks wind scenarios heavy winds extreme temperatures hurricane simulation weather precipitation scenarios rain coastal flooding climate risk tropical storms hurricanes storm surge


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