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CCU Atheneum: Burroughs & Chapin Scholar Len Pietrafesa outlines the HUGO Project at the Aug. 1 media conference.
Burroughs & Chapin Scholar Len Pietrafesa outlines the HUGO Project at the Aug. 1 media conference.

CCU scientists announce new hurricane outlook model

by Doug Bell
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Hurricane Genesis and Outlook (HUGO) Project offers landfall prediction

A new hurricane outlook model system was unveiled Aug. 1 by scientists at Coastal Carolina University (CCU). The new model, called the Hurricane Genesis and Outlook (HUGO) Project, goes a step further than most other hurricane prediction instruments in that it offers landfall probability information. In addition to the seasonal outlook, this model system will predict the track and intensity of any incoming hurricane five days away from landfall.

The HUGO hurricane seasonal outlook model is based on calculations of 22 climatological factors encompassing oceanic, atmospheric and shoreline activity. The model also considers detailed statistical data from previous Atlantic hurricanes going back to 1950, a methodology that has produced highly accurate track predictions in hindcasting tests conducted by the team at CCU.

 The HUGO model offers outlooks on both the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast. The probable number of landfalls is given in order of decreasing likelihood. According to the latest prediction, for both the East Coast and Gulf the most likely scenario for 2013 is 1 hurricane landfall, with 2 and 0 landfalls next in probability.

The new model was developed by a group of climatological scholars of international standing led by Len Pietrafesa, former chair of the National Hurricane Center External Advisory Panel and now a member of the faculty of CCU’s School of Coastal & Marine Systems Science. Other members of the CCU team are Shaowu Bao, a computational, deterministic numerical modeler specializing in meteorology and oceanography; Tingzhunag Yan, a meteorological oceanographer with a background in statistical modeling of climate and weather systems; and Paul Gayes, director of the School of Coastal & Marine Systems Science.

Because the HUGO model system will provide specific data on probable storm surge and inundation as a hurricane approaches, including time, location and statistical representations of expected water depth along the coastline, it is expected to have special relevance for emergency management officials in their logistical planning in the event of evacuations.

For more information about CCU’s HUGO Project, contact Len Pietrafesa at 843-349-4017 or 704-910-7047 or email The HUGO Project website is at


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