WOODS HOLE, MA (CBS) — Hermine approached New England for Labor Day weekend and hung around offshore for a few days after.
Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution used this storm as a learning opportunity.

While everyone was avoiding the coast prior to Hermine making its way towards New England, a team of scientists was heading out to sea.

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“We want to go out into the ocean, a few days before a storm. When everyone else is scattering and going away from the ocean. So that part is hard. But we are now at a point with all the technology we have, with the glider, the floats we drop out of planes, and the buoys, we can put this stuff in and then it can report to us automatically and continuously during a storm. That’s a big advance in recent years,” says Robert Todd, Assistant Scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Physical Oceanography Department.

Todd is part of a team that deployed a glider southwest of Martha’s Vineyard on Sept. 2nd. The glider met up with Hermine’s center and lingered. Then the storm dissipated and the glider continued its journey across the ocean back to Martha’s Vineyard where it was picked up by the team.

“The whole time the glider’s in the water, it’s measuring the temperature, the salinity, the currents, things like how much stuff is in the water,” says Todd.

Hurricanes get their energy from heat stored at the top of the ocean. The data is transmitted back to his computer and is plotted in a graph. The graph shows the temperature at each depth, before, during, and after Hermine’s journey through the ocean. Buoys are also deployed, designed by the University of Maine. Two of them were positioned just off the southern New England coast to track Hermine’s effects.

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“This is a buoy that is designed to actually measure the winds, the waves and sea level as storms come through. They transmit the data back in real time through a cell phone.” Glen Gawarkiewicz
Senior Scientist Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Physical Oceanography Department. “We send the data through and the data is actually used in forecast models there. But what we are also using the data to try and understand how the ocean mixing from the storm winds then feeds back to the storm intensity.”

“The big picture goal here, is getting the intensity forecast right,” says Todd.

It will take months to really work with forecasters to analyze the data and to start to improve the forecast models. This program was funded by NOAA following Hurricane Sandy.
Arthur was the first storm they tracked. Hermine will be the last storm to analyze through this program. Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution has 5 other partners too; University of Maine, University of Maryland, Rutgers University, The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, & UMass Dartmouth.

The team from WHOI kept a close eye on Hurricane Matthew when it hit the Caribbean and the southeastern U.S. They have Storm Buoys in place in Buzzards Bay near West Falmouth Harbor and also off Ocean City MD. The additional gliders were not needed as the storm did not come as close to New England as Hermine did.

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Woods Hole has 5 other partners for the storm glider research: University of Maine, University of Maryland, Rutgers University., The Gulf of Maine Research Institute, & UMass Dartmouth.