Thursday, September 13, 2018

On hurricane forecasting. How much have things improved since 2016?

In September 2016 there was Hurricane Matthew.

The media, both TV and the press, went absolutely nuts here in Palm Beach County. And then the public went nuts too. Everybody went nuts. That storm had the potential to be a major storm like Hurricane Andrew but instead the storm ended up skirting the coast and becoming a major rain event for most parts of this County. Matthew did cause major damage along the coastline. However, after Matthew some started wondering about things like the Gulfstream Current and how much power that current has, e.g., can it change the direction of storms?

Further compounding the issue of hurricane models were these observations in August 2016 that one could say, created quite the stir here in South Florida. . .

Getting Ready to Get Ready”.

A quote by Brian Norcross* from August 2016:

“An unfortunate artifact of modern television weather-graphics systems is that it’s just as easy for a weathercaster to show a model forecast for a week from now as it is to show a map of the weather at this minute. The problem is, we are pretty sure about the current weather, but the forecast graphic for a week from now is almost certainly wrong.
     It’s inflammatory and misleading and upsetting to coastal residents, and I humbly propose that we quit it, especially in scenarios like this one that are wildly uncertain except for the broad strokes.
     We can be reasonably certain that high pressure is going to build to the north and push the system west, and we have some confidence on the timing for South Florida, plus or minus a day or so. But that’s it. And we're not 100% about those.
     The key question is, when do residents need to prepare and for what? If the academic question of whether the Euro or the GFS is better or worse gets in the way of a clear answer, weather reporters are doing a disservice to their readers and viewers.

*Learn more about Bryan Norcross using this link.