Ghassan Alaka

Ghassan (Gus) Alaka, Ph.D.

Meteorologist, Hurricane Research Division

305.361.4409

4301 Rickenbacker Causeway
Miami, Florida 33149

“My true passion lies in creating advancements in hurricane forecasts that can save lives.”

Dr. Ghassan (Gus) Alaka is a Meteorologist in the Hurricane Research Division at NOAA’s Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory in Miami, FL, where he focuses on numerical hurricane prediction models and transitions of research to operations (R2O). Gus is one of the lead developers of operational hurricane forecast models at NOAA, including the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS) and the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model. Gus leads research activities into numerous hurricane-focused topics, including multi-storm and multi-scale interactions, tropical cyclogenesis, forecast verification, and large-scale dynamics. He was a lead developer of an experimental version of HWRF, called the “Basin-scale HWRF” which showed that storm-following nests are an efficient way to improve hurricane intensity forecasts (see this BAMS study). Gus has extensive experience creating and evaluating tropical cyclone forecast guidance, and regularly provides experimental guidance to partners in NOAA’s Hurricane Field Program. Forecast guidance for operational and NOAA experimental models can be viewed on the publicly available AOML Hurricane Model Viewer. Gus is a regular crew member and lead project scientist aboard the NOAA WP-3D Hurricane Hunter reconnaissance missions, where he has flown over 50 missions to collect data that is ingested directly into the numerical models. He is an excellent communicator who represents HRD internationally and in outreach throughout the South Florida community. Gus received a B.S.E. in Earth System Science and Engineering from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and received his M.S. and Ph.D. in Atmospheric Science from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. He is originally from just north of Boston, Massachusetts.

Current Work

  • Transition hurricane research to operations (R2O)
  • Developer/Tester for the Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System (HAFS)
  • Developer for the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) model
  • Evaluation of multi-storm and multi-scale interactions to improve tropical cyclone forecasts

Manager of the AOML Hurricane Model Viewer to communicate experimental hurricane forecast models to collaborators within NOAA, NOAA’s partners, and the public

Download Full CV

2014, Ph.D. Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

2010, M.S. Atmospheric Science, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO

2008, B.S.E. Earth System Science and Engineering, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

  1. Alaka, G.J. Jr., J.A. Sippel, Z. Zhang, H.-S Kim, F. Marks, V. Tallapragada, A. Mehra, X. Zhang, A. Poyer, and S.G. Gopalakrishnan. Lifetime performance of the operational Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting model (HWRF) for North Atlantic tropical cyclones. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 105(6):E932-E961, https://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-23-0139.1 2024
    Ref. 4396
  2. Hazelton, A., X. Chen, G.J. Alaka Jr., G.R. Alvey III, S. Gopalakrishnan, and F.D. Marks. Sensitivity of HAFS-B tropical cyclone forecasts to planetary boundary layer and microphysics parameterizations. Weather and Forecasting, 39(4):655-678, https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-23-0124.1 2024
    Ref. 4389
  3. Chen, X., A. Hazelton, F.D. Marks, G.J. Alaka, and C. Zhang. Performance of an improved TKE-based eddy-diffusivity mass-flux (EDMF) PBL scheme in 2021 hurricane forecasts from Hurricane Analysis and Forecast System. Weather and Forecasting, 38(2):321-336, https://doi.org/10.1175/WAF-D-22-0140.1 2023
    Ref. 4202

2019 U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA/AOML Certificate of Appreciation

In appreciation of the excellent contributions made to NOAA and the nation during his tenure as AOML director.

2019 U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA/AOML Certificate of Appreciation

For exceptional performance in helping transition significant updates to NOAA’s Hurricane Forecast system.

2018 U.S. Department of Commerce NOAA/AOML Certificate of Appreciation

For exceptional performance in assisting NOAA’s Environmental Modeling Center to successfully test, evaluate, and subsequently receive approval for the 2018 HWRF upgrades by the NCEP Director.

2018 American Meteorological Society Early Career Leadership Academy Graduate

2014 American Meteorological Society Summer Policy Colloquium Fellow

2012 – 2013 Colorado State University Global Sustainability Leadership Fellow

2008 James B. Angell Scholar, University of Michigan