Quad Cities researchers help track Hurricane Florence

DAVENPORT, Iowa-- As Hurricane Florence barrels towards the East Coast, researchers at the National Weather Service Center in Davenport are putting in twice the effort.

The center usually launches two weather balloons a day. But after a request from the National Hurricane Center, they've doubled that.

"It's all connected," said Terry Simmons, the data acquisition program manager. "One part of the atmosphere affects a different part of the atmosphere."

The team is now launching weather balloons every six hours, collecting information about wind speed and direction, temperature, humidity and air pressure.

"The more accurate data we're putting into the models, the better the models can come out with a result," meteorologist Tom Philip said.

The National Weather Center said the data collected in the Quad Cities is especially important because the winds blowing out of the west will greatly impact Hurricane Florence's path.

The center in the Quad Cities is joining about 80 other centers across the country in launching more weather balloons to predict the hurricane's path.

"We have several different models," Simmons explained. "Each model uses its own information. But by putting all the models together, you get a better idea, a consensus so to speak, of where you expect things to occur."

Hurricane Florence is expected to make landfall on Friday, Sept. 14. The Weather Service Center is planning to keep launching extra weather balloons through Friday afternoon.