Hurricane Genesis and Outlook (HUGO) Project

The HUGO Hurricane Landfall Outlook Program is a unique hurricane model system developed by scientists at Coastal Carolina University and unveiled in 2013. The new model differs from most other hurricane prediction instruments in that it offers landfall probability information. In addition to the seasonal outlook, the 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 team has made a major advance in computing a key factor, the Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) Index, which calculates the kinetic energy of storms based on peak wind values.

Also, because the HUGO model system provides 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.

HUGO outlook reports are updated periodically during the season as new data becomes available from NOAA and other organizations. 

The model was developed by a group of climatological scholars of international standing led by Len Pietrafesa, former chair of the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration Science Advisory Board and former chair of the National Hurricane Center External Advisory Panel and now a Burroughs & Chapin Scholar on the faculty of CCU’s School of Coastal and Marine Systems Science (SCMSS). Other members of the CCU team are Shaowu Bao, a computational, deterministic numerical modeler specializing in meteorology and oceanography and a Professor in SCMSS at CCU; Tingzhunag Yan, a meteorological oceanographer with a background in statistical modeling of climate and weather systems and a Burroughs & Chapin Research Scholar in SCMSS at CCU; and Paul Gayes, Director of the School of Coastal and Marine Systems Science and a Professor.

For more information about CCU’s HUGO Project, contact Len Pietrafesa at 843-349-4017 or 704-910-7047 or email lpietraf@coastal.edu