Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.
By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 2:58 PM GMT on April 05, 2007
At the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans this week, scientists from the National Hurricane Center (NHC) took the opportunity to unveil some changes for the upcoming season--and plea for more funding. New NHC chief Bill Proenza repeated his call for a replacement for the aging QuikSCAT satellite, which measures surface winds over ocean areas. Data from this satellite improves hurricane forecasts by 10-16%, he said. Proenza has been vocal about the need for increased funding for hurricane research and operations early in his tenure at NHC, which I welcome wholeheartedly.
New cone of death, new storm surge product
NHC will be modifying the cone of uncertainty that appears around their forecast hurricane tracking maps in 2007. The new cone uses average errors from the past five years of official NHC forecasts. The cone is sized so that storms will fall inside the cone 2/3 of the time, based on these past five years of forecast errors. The old cone simply used the forecast track error averaged over the past ten years of NHC forecasts. The new cone will be about the same size as the old cone for 12-72 hour forecasts, and about 15-25 miles wider beyond that time. Wunderground.com will change their track maps to follow the NHC convention.
The NHC also announced that a new experimental "probabilistic storm surge" product will become available this year. The graphic will show the odds that a storm surge of 5, 10 or 15 feet will affect the coast. The forecast comes from NHC's SLOSH storm surge computer model.
Figure 1. Sample of the new Probabilistic Storm Surge product from NHC, for Hurricane Dennis of 2005.
New Orleans wunderblogger Patrap is at the National Hurricane Conference, and has more info on the conference, for those interested.
Madagascar appeals for aid
Tropical Cyclone Jaya, the sixth tropical cyclone to affect the island of Madagascar this season, has killed three people and caused substantial damage. Jaya hit northern Madagascar as a Category 1 storm earlier this week. The island is suffering through its worst cyclone season on record, and has issued repeated pleas to the international community for aid.
New restrictions on what NOAA scientists can say
NOAA climate, weather and marine scientists will be subject to new restrictions as to what they can say to the media or in public, according to a new policy directive scheduled to take effect in May. I read through the new directive and found it confusing, so I'm not sure what the practical effect of the new guidelines will be. I'll check in later this year with NOAA scientists who might be affected to see if the new policy has had any impact.
My lecture in the Tampa Bay area next week
I'll be giving a free public lecture on Friday, April 13, at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida. The title of the talk will be, "A Preview of the 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season--and the Story of a Flight into Hurricane Hugo." The details:
Friday April 13, 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.
4200 54th Avenue S
St. Petersburg, FL 33711
Here's a map of where Eckerd College is. I hope to see some of you there! I'll have time after the talk to chat. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have comments about my appearance. Check my blog next Thursday to see if there are any late changes to the talk's time or location, but I'm not anticipating that there will be.
My next blog will be Friday or Saturday. I'll discuss Part 2 of the landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2007 report, which will be released Friday.
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