Boston Engineering Advances Hurricane Forecasting with NOAA

Sep 7, 2017

hurricane forecasting

Waltham, Mass. – The damage caused by Hurricane Harvey and the potential impact of Hurricane Irma underscore the critical role of hurricane forecasting in effective disaster preparedness. Boston Engineering is developing a prototype to collect live air and ocean data during developing hurricanes. It is the first product to take air and underwater readings during a storm, and to gather data from multiple ocean submerge-and-surface cycles. By contrast, traditional dropsonde technology only measures air data.

Boston Engineering’s MASED™ – an acronym for Multi-Purpose Above Surface/Below Surface Expendable Dropsonde – is an instrumented buoy with advanced sensors. MASED is cost effectively designed to improve modeling for hurricane intensity and trajectory over water by collecting atmospheric and oceanic data from within the storm area.

Boston Engineering is developing MASED for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) via the competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program. NOAA can drop MASED from its WP-P3 Orion “Hurricane Hunter” aircraft into a storm area. MASED records data during its decent and multiple underwater profiles, and then transmits its readings via satellite. Weather scientists can use the storm-area information to improve the hurricane prediction models.

“The precision and accuracy of hurricane prediction is vital to increasing government preparedness, public safety, and first responder effectiveness for powerful, fast-moving storms,” said Dr. Pedro Restrepo, former technical lead for NOAA, and now a member of Boston Engineering’s MASED Advisory Board. “We continue to focus on gaining new levels of visibility into oceanic and atmospheric storm development through MASED and other capabilities.”

Boston Engineering conducted a MASED drop test earlier this year and is planning a full system test in 2017.

“We are proud to collaborate with NOAA to help advance early-warning capabilities for hurricane and tropical storm development,” said Michael Rufo, director of Boston Engineering’s Advanced Systems Group.

MASED’s modular sensor capability can be adapted for a variety of applications. Boston Engineering is exploring additional MASED applications that include taking measurements in the Arctic, measuring oxygen levels in hypoxia zones for fisheries research, and detecting underwater hydrocarbons to track pollution and to find oil and gas deposits.

About Boston Engineering
Boston Engineering provides product design and engineering consulting across the entire product development process – from concept through product launch. Certified for ISO 9001 and ISO 13485, the company’s industry expertise includes consumer products, defense & security, medical devices, robotics, and industrial & commercial products. Founded in 1995, Boston Engineering is headquartered in Waltham, Mass. with an additional office at UMass Dartmouth’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Learn more at

Alex Wallace
(781) 314-0767