NHC increases hurricane forecast lead times

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 7:27 PM GMT on January 05, 2010

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The National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced today that beginning with the 2010 hurricane season, their hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings for the U.S. coast will be extended in time by an additional 12 hours. Warnings will now be issued 36 hours in advance instead of 24 hours, and watches will be issued 48 hours in advance, instead of 36 hours. The increase in lead time for watches and warnings has been made possible by the tremendous improvement in hurricane track forecasts, which have improved by over 50% in the past twenty years (Figure 1). "With increases in population and infrastructure along vulnerable U.S. coastlines, emergency managers need more lead time in order to make life-saving decisions regarding evacuations", said Bill Read, director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, in today's press release.


Figure 1. Average track errors for NHC Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane forecasts issued between 1990 - 2008. Track errors have improved by over 50% in the past 20 years. Image credit: National Hurricane Center.

Commentary
NHC has been debating for a number of years how best to "invest" the gains accrued from the steady improvement in hurricane track forecasts. One obvious savings from these better hurricane forecasts has come from the reduced evacuation costs. When a hurricane warning is issued 24 hours before the expected arrival of hurricane-force winds at the coast, it costs approximately $1 million to evacuate each mile of U.S. coast warned (Aberson et al., 2006). This number will be higher for more densely populated areas of the coast, such as Miami, and may be a factor of six lower for the North Carolina coast (Whitehead, 2003). According to a 2007 presentation at the 61st Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference, the length of coast warned decreased significantly in the past decade. During the decade of the 1990s, the average length of a hurricane warning was 455 miles, but that fell to just 335 miles between 2000 - 2006. Thus, an average of 120 fewer miles of coast were warned, at an average savings of $120 million per hurricane warning issuance. During this period, 17 storms requiring 25 hurricane warnings occurred. If the costs of coastal evacuations are indeed $1 million per mile, the improved hurricane forecasts between 2000 - 2006 resulted in savings of $3 billion compared to what the forecasts of the 1990s would have cost.

However, the new increased lead times for hurricane watches and warnings will lead to an increase in the length of coast warned, due to the higher uncertainties in hurricane tracks at longer forecast lead times. Between 2004 - 2008, approximately 25% of the coast that was placed under a hurricane warning actually received hurricane force winds; this percentage was 20% for areas placed under a hurricane watch. These percentages will decline with the new increased watch and warning lead times, costing money in unnecessary evacuations, and leading to increased complacency in the warned population due to too much "crying wolf".

Balanced against these increased costs is the potential disastrous loss of life should a hurricane hit an unprepared, heavily populated shoreline. With the U.S. population continuing to increase rapidly in coastal regions, the time needed to evacuate vulnerable populated regions is increasing. For example, evacuation times for the major urban areas of Texas are 28 - 34 hours for a major hurricane. Though the costs of overwarning the coast is significant, the savings in both human lives and dollars from increased warning times should outweigh these costs. In the 2002 book, Hurricane: Coping With Disaster, Dr. Hugh Willoughby, former director of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Marine Laboratory, analyzed hurricane death statistics. In 1950, about 70 U.S. residents died per year in hurricanes. In the 50 years since, the coastal population expanded by a factor of 3.2, so if we were managing the hurricane problem the way we did in 1950, we would be losing about 220 people a year. The long-term average is still about twenty per year, not including the deaths due to the levee failures during Katrina. That means we're preventing about 200 deaths per year compared with 1950. How much are these saved lives worth? A life, is, of course, priceless, but in the cold world of economics, the value of life-saving scientific research and government regulations is estimated using statistics of what people are willing to pay to avoid certain risks, and what extra money employers pay their workers to take on additional risks. This data comes primarily from payroll statistics, but opinion surveys also play a role. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) valued an American life at $8 million. EPA cut the value of a life by 8% that year, and a further 3% in May 2008, making the economic value of a life $6.9 million in today's dollars. The Department of Transportation gives a lower figure of a life as being worth $5.8 million. Using this number implies a savings of about $1.2 billion per year for the 200 lives saved per year by better hurricane warnings and evacuations. Today's decision by NHC to increase warning times should continue this trend of saving lives, which will also provide considerable monetary benefit. Despite the increased costs and dangers of "crying wolf" too often due to overwarning the coast, I believe that the double value of saving lives--for both the intrinsic and monetary value of a human life--makes NHC's move of increasing warning and watch times the right call.

References
Whitehead, J.C., 2003: "One million dollars per mile? The opportunity costs of Hurricane evacuation", Ocean and Coastal Management 46, 1069.

I'll have a new post on Thursday or Friday.

Jeff Masters

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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


30hours out and im supposed to get 70% of percipitation tomorrow.. looks like maybe thursday evening into early friday.. what do you all think.. I seen this in most models..


also it looks like accuweather made the L much stronger too ?? or?
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30hours out and im supposed to get 70% of percipitation tomorrow.. looks like maybe thursday evening into early friday.. what do you all think.. I seen this in most models..
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Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


Yay keep coming south!!
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1185. ABlass
It's going to be a cool one tonite:

Forecast

Issued: 8.41 PM MST Wednesday 6 January 2010
Wind chill warning in effect.

Tonight:
Clear. Ice fog patches. Wind up to 15 km/h. Low minus 30C (-22F). Extreme wind chill minus 41C (-41.8F).

Think I will just hunker down for the evening :)

A quick (probably dumb)noob question I haven't been able to find an understandable answer to: What causes the jetstream to move?
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LOOK WHO'S COMING TO DINNER!!

Siberian Express, Flight -35, on time:


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Quoting Bordonaro:


It'll give your 5" of snow a "light crunchy cover".
Enjoying our "heat wave", 10:11PM CST SE Arlington, TX:

Sky: Overcast
Temp: 48.1F
Dew Pt: 45.4F
Rel Hum: 90%
Winds: SE at 2 MPH
Bar Press: 30.09" and steady

Morning L: 28F
Afternoon H: 49F

Only 5F below normal. Thurs from 2AM-Sun NOON will be BAD here :0). And I LOVE IT!!



haha supposed to be -3 saturday night for me :P
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For the people from Florida... I put a post in my Blog #768, it explains what that mysterious button or switch is, thats in your dashboard.Its called a DEFROSTER. The insignia for the front window defrost looks just like the front window. The one for the back window looks just like the back window; these features normally have three settings: low, medium and high
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511




staying alive..
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Quoting tornadodude:


haha why not :P


It'll give your 5" of snow a "light crunchy cover".
Enjoying our "heat wave", 10:11PM CST SE Arlington, TX:

Sky: Overcast
Temp: 48.1F
Dew Pt: 45.4F
Rel Hum: 90%
Winds: SE at 2 MPH
Bar Press: 30.09" and steady

Morning L: 28F
Afternoon H: 49F

Only 5F below normal. Thurs from 2AM-Sun NOON will be BAD here :0). And I LOVE IT!!

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lil more moisture than expected my opinion..
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Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
that pressure is high 1040 to 1038

Is mountainous measurement with a sea level adjustment...sometimes off by a few after that...

But, yeah, that is pretty high.

See the cool off? We were colder this morning than Wyoming...for a while.

There it was 32 F at 7 AM, by 8 AM it was 10 F...Chinook winds had a part in keeping them "warm" when it was 32 F.

Lost 22 F in one hour, as the sun was coming up.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Quoting Orcasystems:
Going to be hard to sell my snow shovels if its not snowing in Florida or NOLA.... KOG, throw on a couple more fans and I will split the profit with you... how many places in Florida could possibly be selling Snow shovels :)


Got my snow shovel.

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1175. eddye
elconado come back to weather chat
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I believe its the updated version b/c i c snow possibility has got closer to fl.. so we will c once we get closer and all..
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Quoting Bordonaro:


It's coming :O)! Would you like some freezing drizzle and 45MPH winds gusts with you snow order, sir?


haha why not :P
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1172. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting atmoaggie:
Temps at Mom's in Wyoming:



Brrr.
that pressure is high 1040 to 1038
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54630
Quoting ElConando:


Where do you live again? 45mph gusts must give quite a wind chill.


Arlington, TX, I don't think they count wind gusts with the wind chill factor however. Our normal high is 54F/normal low is 34F for Jan, we haven't seen above normal since 12-23-09, when it was 76F. The next day, 3" of snow fell!

URGENT - WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE...RESENT
NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE FORT WORTH TX
932 PM CST WED JAN 6 2010

...WINTER WEATHER ADVISORY IN EFFECT FROM 1 AM CST THROUGH 8 AM CST
FOR NORTHERN PARTS OF NORTH TEXAS..

.AN ARCTIC COLD FRONT CONTINUES TO PUSH THROUGH OKLAHOMA AND APPROACH
THE RED RIVER VALLEY LATE THIS EVENING. THE ARCTIC FRONT SHOULD START
PUSHING ACROSS THE RED RIVER AROUND MIDNIGHT...THEN RAPIDLY THROUGH
THE REST OF NORTH TEXAS BY DAYBREAK THURSDAY MORNING. FREEZING DRIZZLE
AND OCCASIONAL SNOW FLURRIES HAVE BEEN NOTED IN THE ARCTIC AIRMASS
ACROSS WESTERN OKLAHOMA AND THE TEXAS PANHANDLE THIS EVENING AND WILL
LIKELY BE THE CASE ACROSS NORTHERN PARTS OF NORTH TEXAS LATE TONIGHT
AND EARLY THURSDAY MORNING. THE PATCHY FREEZING DRIZZLE WILL RESULT
IN SOME SLICK SPOTS...ESPECIALLY ELEVATED SURFACES SUCH AS BRIDGES
AND OVERPASSES DURING THE PRE- DAWN HOURS THURSDAY MORNING. SOME
PATCHY FREEZING DRIZZLE WILL LINGER ACROSS NORTHEASTERN NORTH TEXAS
AFTER DAYBREAK...BEFORE THE ARCTIC AIRMASS DEEPENS AND DRIES OUT.

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Temps at Mom's in Wyoming:



Brrr.
Member Since: August 16, 2007 Posts: 6 Comments: 12463
Apparently... this is the #1 googled web page for Floridians in the last few days :)

Link
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting Bordonaro:


It's coming :O)! Would you like some freezing drizzle and 45MPH winds gusts with you snow order, sir?


Where do you live again? 45mph gusts must give quite a wind chill.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3768
Quoting Orcasystems:


Just remember, they have to be off by the 11th... so its hot by the 13th in Mexico.


I remember my mom going to Mexico City in Feb around 10-12 years ago for work. She nearly left without anything more than a sweater till she saw the lows would be in the mid to lower 40s for most of her stay. I didn't think it got under 50 much in Mexico City but I guess elevation helps.
Member Since: September 6, 2009 Posts: 2 Comments: 3768
Quoting tornadodude:
howdy all,

still waiting for the snow to start (:


It's coming :O)! Would you like some freezing drizzle and 45MPH winds gusts with you snow order, sir?
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howdy all,

still waiting for the snow to start (:
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1163. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
poss. storm in gom north of ya though

Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54630
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:


looks like right on 13th things warm up by 15 your in the 80's

you know who won't be looking for me


Well done Grasshopper :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
OK, Orca and KOG, time to aim the fans, just right, towards FL please:







...AN ARCTIC AIRMASS TO BRING FRIGID TEMPERATURES TO NORTH TEXAS
THURSDAY THROUGH SATURDAY...

AN ARCTIC COLD FRONT WILL ARRIVE IN NORTH TEXAS TONIGHT AND BRING
AN EXTENDED PERIOD OF BELOW FREEZING TEMPERATURES TO THE REGION.
TEMPERATURES WILL DROP BELOW FREEZING BEGINNING AFTER MIDNIGHT
TONIGHT AND SHOULD BRIEFLY RISE ABOVE FREEZING SATURDAY AFTERNOON
ACROSS MOST OF NORTH TEXAS. TEMPERATURES WILL THEN FALL BACK BELOW
FREEZING SATURDAY NIGHT. STRONG NORTH WINDS OF 25 TO 35 MPH WITH
GUSTS UP TO 45 MPH WILL ACCOMPANY THE ARCTIC FRONT TONIGHT AND
THURSDAY. THIS WILL RESULT IN FRIGID WIND CHILLS IN THE TEENS AND
SINGLE DIGITS ON THURSDAY ACROSS NORTH TEXAS. WIND CHILLS MAY
DROP BELOW ZERO FOR AREAS NORTH OF INTERSTATE 20 FRIDAY MORNING
AND AGAIN SATURDAY MORNING.

IN ADDITION TO THE ARCTIC AIR...A CHANCE OF LIGHT RAIN WILL BE
POSSIBLE THIS EVENING...BEFORE CHANGING OVER TO PATCHY LIGHT
FREEZING RAIN OR DRIZZLE BEFORE DAYBREAK THURSDAY MORNING. AREAS
NORTH OF A GATESVILLE TO ATHENS LINE WILL BE THE MOST LIKELY
LOCATIONS TO SEE FROZEN PRECIPITATION. NO SIGNIFICANT ACCUMULATIONS
OF ICE ARE EXPECTED AT THIS TIME. HOWEVER...SOME PATCHY LIGHT
ICING IS POSSIBLE OVERNIGHT TONIGHT...MAINLY ON ELEVATED BRIDGES
AND OVERPASSES THAT REMAIN WET AS THE ARCTIC AIR MOVES IN. THIS
COULD RESULT IN SOME SLICK SPOTS FOR THE THURSDAY MORNING COMMUTE.
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1160. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)


looks like right on 13th things warm up by 15 your in the 80's

you know who won't be looking for me
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54630
Quoting KEEPEROFTHEGATE:
actually i had a tech on the roof today adjust all the blowers to maximum output there in overdrive be back next week for a shut down and service


Just remember, they have to be off by the 11th... so its hot by the 13th in Mexico.
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1158. eddye
will someone join me in weather chat please
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Its cold D:
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Quoting eddye:
will any one go into weather chat so we can talk about the snow that will maybe happen in fl

how do you do that?
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
It looks like there is some sleet in SETX's future.

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1154. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
Quoting Orcasystems:
Going to be hard to sell my snow shovels if its not snowing in Florida or NOLA.... KOG, throw on a couple more fans and I will split the profit with you... how many places in Florida could possibly be selling Snow shovels :)
actually i had a tech on the roof today adjust all the blowers to maximum output there in overdrive be back next week for a shut down and service
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 174 Comments: 54630
1153. eddye
will any one go into weather chat so we can talk about the snow that will maybe happen in fl
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Quoting jrweatherman:
This morning Pinellas County was NOT under a freeze warning and yet a couple of my neighbors ran their sprinklers and everything froze.



Ummmmm Duh
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
Quoting jrweatherman:
This morning Pinellas County was NOT under a freeze warning and yet a couple of my neighbors ran their sprinklers and everything froze.

Wow I was thinking the same thing when I went to take a shower I picture the water freezing into ice as it came out the shower head.
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
Quoting jrweatherman:
I have a prediction on January's world-wide temperatures.

Despite January being the 3rd coldest on record in North America, 4th in Europe and we saw record snows in China, and the polar bears have plenty of ice to fish on, January was the 4th warmest on record.

Sorry for the sarcasm but somehow it is going to get spun in a GW direction.


how's it possible that the world had its 4th warmest Jan. on record. I'm guessing it has something to do with Antarctica and the continental ice shelf.
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
This morning Pinellas County was NOT under a freeze warning and yet a couple of my neighbors ran their sprinklers and everything froze.
Member Since: May 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 999
Going to be hard to sell my snow shovels if its not snowing in Florida or NOLA.... KOG, throw on a couple more fans and I will split the profit with you... how many places in Florida could possibly be selling Snow shovels :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1144. GBguy88
Quoting Orcasystems:
Is it snowing in Florida yet :)


Negative.
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Is it snowing in Florida yet :)
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
1142. GBguy88
Anyone have any good graphics to illustrate how fast the high is advancing?
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I have a prediction on January's world-wide temperatures.

Despite January being the 3rd coldest on record in North America, 4th in Europe and we saw record snows in China, and the polar bears have plenty of ice to fish on, January was the 4th warmest on record.

Sorry for the sarcasm but somehow it is going to get spun in a GW direction.

Member Since: May 17, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 999
I kept forgetting to buy a new snow shovel for the last two years.... 2 months ago... I bought two new ones :)

With the weather we have been having... I doubt I will need them this year..as we are now heading into SPRING.

Do I hear any opening offers.... I will accept a starting offer of $20 each.. plus shipping.


Shep... RTLSNK... BF...

Who wants to start the bidding :
Member Since: October 1, 2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26511
its 35 degrees at my house in Pinellas which is just west of Tampa.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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