HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the nearly 20 years since Hurricane Iniki devastated Kauai, there have been major changes and improvements in technology and that includes the tools that forecasters use at the national weather service.
"This is the day that hurricane Iniki made landfall, September 11, 1992. It's very hard to see the hurricane, but it's south of Kauai and moving rapidly northward at that point," says Robert Ballard, Science and Operations Officer. "There is this famous image of Iniki's eye making landfall on Kauai but those came from a polar orbiter satellite that would scan the earth it was just good timing that got these pictures."
Now, there's satellite imagery over Hawaii with one-kilometer resolution: We can get very tight on features that are of interest over the islands. We can overlay things like surface observations and weather reports that are key to the Hawaiian Islands in real time.
There's another tool available that we take for granted today: In 1992, something that we did not have were the four weather radars, and now we have the network of four weather radars that cover the Hawaiian islands, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That radar is available via the internet and into smart phones.
And speaking of mobile devices, the weather service is using social networking, like Facebook and Twitter: "People will be the best informed they've ever been if a storm threatened the state of hawaii. Because all the different sources. It's pretty much that couldn't miss that it was coming and preparedness information would be flowing freely as well," says Meteorologist Mike Cantin.