The SECOORA footprint spans the eastern side of Gulf of Mexico to South Atlantic Bight and is connected by the Loop Current-Florida Current-Gulf Stream continuum.

Editorial: Extreme weather is now routine

Predicting the paths of hurricanes has improved in recent years. It is predicting their intensity that remains tough and problematic. That was one of the takeaways from a recent forum sponsored by the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association — better known as SECOORA — held in Jacksonville.

Predictions of hurricane intensity are regularly off by one category, and that’s a pretty significant difference.

Modern technology is helping improve the predictions, however, by employing underwater drones near the path of hurricanes in the Gulf Stream. Since the waters of the Atlantic Ocean typically are warmed in the Gulf Stream, gaining real-time data can help improve accuracy of predictions.

The SECOORA group is a small nonprofit that — along with a network of universities and the private sector — uses radar, buoys and research to help improve our knowledge of hurricanes; one of its main goals is to provide scientific data that meets federal standards on quality and reliability.

Marine scientist Jeremy Stalker of the Marine Science Institute at Jacksonville University said that in general our earth is warmer. But the most disturbing trend, Stalker said, involves warming at the poles. He showed graphics that indicated a rising number of major hurricanes in recent decades, turbocharged by the warmer seas; right now oceans are absorbing 93 percent of the excess heat of the planet.

The effects of a warmer climate are seen with more rain and flooding in some areas, more drought in the West, more nuisance or sunny day flooding along the coast.

In addition, hurricanes recently have been moving more slowly, resulting in historic amounts of rainfall and flooding.

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