Hurricane Experts at Florida State University (2012)

From prediction to recovery, Florida State University’s experts are among the best in the nation when it comes to the study of hurricanes and their impact on people and property. These experts are available to answer media questions and give perspective to news stories throughout the 2012 hurricane season, which begins June 1 and ends Nov. 30.


•Mark Bourassa, associate professor of meteorology, (850) 644-6923 or 645-4788;

Bourassa’s expertise is in the transfer of energy and momentum between the ocean and the atmosphere and remote sensing, particularly of surface winds. He also is interested in surface water waves and the identification of tropical disturbances, possible precursors to tropical cyclones. Recent work has involved remotely sensed estimates of the energy released in storms, as water vapor is converted to precipitation.

•Dmitry Dukhovskoy, associate research scientist at the FSU Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), (850) 644-1168;

Dukhovskoy’s research interests focus on numerical modeling of ocean physical processes including ocean dynamics, storm surges, air-sea interaction, waves and tides. He has been involved in different research efforts that studied ocean response to tropical storms. Currently, he is developing a storm surge model for the U.S. Gulf Coast as part of a project on flood risk assessment in the Gulf of Mexico.

•James Elsner, professor of geography, (850) 877-4039;

Elsner is an expert on hurricanes and statistical models for long-range prediction. His research is on developing the science and technology for modeling the risk of a catastrophic storm along the nation’s coastline. He studies the relationship of hurricanes to climate factors including El Niño and global warming. His recent work compares hurricane activity along the Gulf Coast measured from historical and geological records, and he has recently developed a model for predicting the likelihood of economic losses.

•T.N. Krishnamurti, emeritus Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Meteorology, (850) 644-2210;

Krishnamurti is an international expert in computer modeling in tropical meteorology and numerical weather prediction. He developed the Super Ensemble technique that collects forecasts made by a world community of models and yields a best consensus long-range track, landfall and intensity forecast.

Tim LaRow, associate research scientist at the FSU Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), (850) 644-6926;

LaRow and his colleagues at COAPS use a numerical climate model developed at FSU to understand seasonal predictability of hurricane activity. The model is one of only a handful of numerical models in the world being used to study seasonal hurricane activity. Numerical models use high performance computers to synthesize massive amounts of information, including atmospheric, ocean and land data.

Steven Morey, associate research scientist at the FSU Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), (850) 644-0345;

Morey’s research focuses on studying physical processes and circulation within the Gulf of Mexico. He conducts studies of estuarine systems and their connectivity to the offshore environment, the ocean response to hurricanes and deepwater processes over steep topography. He is currently working with a team at COAPS developing computer models of storm surge and coastal flooding.

James J.O’Brien, emeritus Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of Meteorology and Oceanography and former director of the FSU Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS), (850) 644-4581 or (850) 459-1938;

An internationally known expert on El Niño and related weather phenomena, O’Brien also is the past state climatologist of Florida. He believes that global climate change is not causing an increase in the intensity or number of hurricanes that affect the United States, and he can discuss the influence of climate variability on hurricanes. O’Brien also can explain why the presence of La Niña influenced the past two years of Atlantic hurricane activity.

•Paul Ruscher, associate professor of meteorology, (850) 644-2752;

Ruscher studies coastal and boundary layer meteorology. He also measures, monitors, and studies coastal and offshore wind patterns in particular. During the past few years, many new high-density data sets and improved numerical models have become available that allow scientists to study complex coastal flow regimes, items of critical importance in situations of adverse or severe weather, pollution events, such as oil spills, and ocean response to high winds. He can address questions about the models used to forecast winds, waves and currents, and the relative uncertainty related to the forecasts.


•Todd L. Walton Jr., director of FSU’s Beaches and Shores Resource Center, (850) 644-2847;

Walton is an expert on storm-related coastal erosion. Under his leadership, the Beaches and Shores Resource Center gives technical guidance to the state for the Coastal Construction Control Line Program, which provides protection for Florida’s beaches and dunes while assuring the reasonable use of private property. In addition, the center has provided research to improve the accuracy of estimations regarding the storm tide return period, dune erosion and beach nourishment performance.


Earl J. “Jay” Baker, associate professor of geography, (850) 893-8993;

Baker is an expert on how people respond to warnings and evacuation orders and how emergency managers use forecasts to implement evacuation plans. Baker has researched vulnerability perceptions and hurricane preparedness of people on the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic coasts. He recently completed surveys of Florida residents to be used in updating the state’s evacuation plans and to assess household preparedness for the aftermath of a hurricane. In collaboration with colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Miami he has conducted “real time” interviews in 2010 and 2011 with coastal residents as they were actually being threatened by hurricanes. He will conduct additional real-time interviews this year as a hurricane threatens in order to better understand the information residents receive and how they use that information in deciding how to respond. A related project is designed to help understand how coastal residents arrive at their perceptions of vulnerability to hurricanes.


•Randy E. Dumm, associate professor of risk and insurance, (850) 644-7880;

Dumm is an expert on the impact of hurricane losses on insurance prices and availability in Florida and how modeling is used to determine the pricing of the hurricane component of residential property insurance. He is a member of the Florida Commission on Hurricane Loss Projection Methodology and can discuss the commission’s goals, objectives and purpose.

•Patrick F. Maroney, the Kathryn Magee Kip Professor and director of the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center, (850) 644-8217;

Housed in the FSU College of Business, the Florida Catastrophic Storm Risk Management Center engages in research and promotes collaboration with state and federal agencies and other universities in areas such as storm forecasting, building construction, disaster mitigation and risk management. Maroney can discuss property and casualty insurance, and insurance regulation.


•Wayne A. Hochwarter, the Jim Moran Professor of Management, (850) 644-7849;

Hochwarter has studied the long-term effects of stress on employees as they return to the workplace following a hurricane. Such effects include increased rates of depression and anxiety, higher incidences of interpersonal conflict at work, higher levels of organizational cynicism and increased rates of employee burnout. The ramifications for employers include higher rates of employee turnover, more absenteeism and reduced productivity.


•Mark Bonn, the Robert H. Dedman Professor in Services Management, (850) 644-8244;

Bonn is a tourism industry expert and the only academic ever elected to the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame. He has conducted hundreds of research projects addressing the importance of tourism to Florida and its economy through visitor spending. He can discuss the economic impact that hurricanes and other disasters could have on the tourism industry.