Honing guidlines to improve Hurricane Forecasting

By: Martha Spencer
By: Martha Spencer

The Bahamas Weather Conference is being held in Cable Beach this week. Hurricane experts and meteorologists from around the country gather to recap the previous hurricane season and discuss possible forecasting changes.

The national hurricane center is working hard at honing their forecasting skills, and better protecting the public, which is why they are looking to change a few of their policies.

In the 2008 hurricane season there were sixteen named tropical cyclones in the north Atlantic, including five major hurricanes of category three or higher.
Despite the above normal activity, the national hurricane center in Miami has greatly improved their forecasting skills.

From 1994 through 2003 the national hurricane center's largest degree of error was a 200 mile wide swath three days out from land fall. Between 2008 they narrowed that margin by 100 miles.

In addition to better accuracy, starting in 2010 the nhc will issue a hurricane watch 48 hours out from a storm, and a hurricane warning 36 hours out....extending both by twelve hours in order to give the public more time to prepare.

One of the most difficult challenges for emergency management officials is relaying to the public how dangerous storm surges can be, even from less intense hurricanes.

The NHC has tweaked a number of variables in forecasting storm surge, including making their format easier for emergency management officials to relay to the general public.

Based on the latest hurricane projections for 2009, forecasters are calling for possibly one of the quietest hurricane seasons in more than a decade, and a shifting of threat from the gulf to the Atlantic coastline.

None-the-less, it only takes one storm to cause devastation, and every hurricane season should be given equal attention.

While this storm season is predicted to have average storm development, cooler waters in the Atlantic and the presence of an El Nino effect in the Atlantic could significantly reduce tropical cyclone development.

Hurricane season begins June 1st and runs through November 30th.

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