Bryan Norcross's Hurricane Almanac: a book review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:19 PM GMT on May 24, 2007

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Bryan Norcross, Hurricane Analyst for CBS's national news and Director of Meteorology for WFOR-TV in Miami, has just written his second annual Hurricane Almanac: The Essential Guide to Storms Past, Present, and Future. Bryan is famous for his marathon on-air performance during Hurricane Andrew of 1992, when he talked people through the storm as their homes came apart around them. His book is a great addition to the bookshelf of anyone living in Hurricane Alley. Like any almanac, it has information on a variety of topics, and is not meant to be read straight through. My favorite part was his 5-page description of his Hurricane Andrew experience--and the lessons we should have learned from it, but didn't. Some other highlights:

Ready, Set, Hurricane!
The book's greatest strength is the impressive 134-page section that provides checklists and practical information on how to prepare, ride out, evacuate, and recover from a hurricane. There are so many things to think of that having them available in a handy book one can pick up anytime makes Hurricane Almanac a great book to have. When preparing for a hurricane, you'll find tips on what storm shutters and generator to buy, what to do with your pet, computer, boat, pool and car, and how to make a Family Hurricane Plan. Bryan also boosts a web which I also like, onestorm.org. This is a free hurricane preparedness web site that helps you put together a family hurricane plan.

I like how the book emphasizes the most important things it wants you to know. In the case of the Ready, Set, Hurricane! section, Bryan emphasizes this:

IF YOU DON'T DO ANYTHING ELSE, DO THIS!

-Contact a friend or relative out of town and ask him or her to be your family's emergency contact.

-Before the storm, be sure that every member of the family has a piece of paper on them that says, for example:

EMERGENCY CONTACT
AUNT MILLY IN NJ
201-555-5555

-Call Aunt Milly before the wind starts blowing to tell her exactly where you are and what you are planning to do.

-Be sure everybody knows that they should call Aunt Milly if they get lost or anything bad happens.

It's important that your main contact person is out of town, because local calls are more likely to be disrupted after a storm. Both ends of local connections are subject to problems.

Another interesting fact I learned from Hurricane Almanac: You can send an email message to any cell phone able to receive text messages by emailing to XXX-XXX-XXXX@teleflip.com (replace the X's with the phone number of the person's cell phone). The message will be forwarded to any cell phone provider in the U.S.

Hurricane Almanac also details what to do after the storm--how to deal with FEMA and your insurance company, save water-damaged possessions, and purify your drinking water. Additional chapters include an excellent summary of all the various National Hurricane Center advisories and how to interpret them, the basics of hurricane science, and a summary of some of the famous storms in the past. The opening chapter includes a very passionate critique of our emergency management system, building codes, and the politicians who fail to adequately protect us against hurricanes. A sample quote:

That President Bush, DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff, and the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, General Carl Strock were completely misinformed and saying ridiculous things for days and weeks after the Katrina disaster is frightening. These people know when a pin drops in Afghanistan. How can they not know when a levee breaks in New Orleans? The evidence says that the communications and operational infrastructure of the federal government broke down. We should all be very concerned.

Hurricane Almanac (335 pages, softcover) is $10.39 from amazon.com. It's not fancy--all the photos and figures are black and white (if you want a coffee table hurricane book with beautiful color photos and figures, get Dr. Kerry Emanuel's Divine Wind. An added bonus for Hurricane Almanac is a companion web site, hurricanealmanac.com. The web site is not fancy, but does have some useful links and a page that allows you to send Byran emails with suggestions and/or fixes for the 2008 version of his book.

The book also has a provocative chapter titled, "How I'd do it better," that I'll comment on in a future blog.

Jeff Masters

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219. Patrap
11:04 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
...Close and lock your visor Kris..and initiate O2 flow..
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 426 Comments: 128632
218. weatherboykris
3:56 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Alright,I'm off to watch their countdown finish.I'll comment in about a half hour on the forecast.Yes,it is so detailed it takes that long to read.
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217. weatherboykris
3:55 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Go to www.independentwx.com
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216. weatherboykris
3:53 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Independent Weather Information Center.They give an extremely detailed seasonal hurricane forecast,in about 7 minutes.As H23's been saying,you will not find a nearly-as-detailed forecast.
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215. benirica
3:51 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
forgive my ignorance... still learning here but whats the IWIC's outlook?
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214. weatherboykris
3:40 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
ECHOOOO!!!
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213. weatherboykris
3:19 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Hello.IWIC's outlook will be released in 40 minutes.
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212. Tazmanian
3:13 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: TheCaneWhisperer at 3:06 AM GMT on May 25, 2007.

About time! The C-ATL trough is showing signs of leaving the area!


at last how long has that thing been there ???
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115234
211. TheCaneWhisperer
3:06 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
About time! The C-ATL trough is showing signs of leaving the area!
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210. TheCaneWhisperer
1:59 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
+60 hrs. Thanks!
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209. rxse7en
9:54 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Stange...for a very short period of time this evening, thousands of small drops of water fell from the sky. Our cowardly, humble dog ran to the bathroom to hide, my son kept his head glued to the Macbook Pro and I sat in the living room listenting to the small plinks of water hitting the roof. I went to wikipedia.com and sure enough, I think we a had a small rainstorm here in Jacksonville.

B
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207. RL3AO
8:12 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
If it can become a TD by Friday evening, it has a chance at 55-60 kts IMO.
206. Miamiweather
1:21 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
hey 23 the only thing I believe that would represent is that the building code in the shaded green area is far superior than any other in the state so that might be who is more at risk of serious property damage
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204. LowerCal
6:18 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
Thanks Michael. TCW, that is a future low not 90E or the soon to be? 91E.
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202. stormhank
1:15 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Hurricane 23 u got mail
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201. LowerCal
6:11 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
TCW, if you right click on that GFS you should get an option to View Image or some such. That will make it full size and easier to read.
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200. Tazmanian
1:12 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
party going on right now in my blog
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115234
199. RL3AO
8:11 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
Theres one invest. Wonder if 91E is coming soon.
198. Tazmanian
1:11 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
: LowerCal the next one would be 91E wish is not up on the navy site yet
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115234
197. LowerCal
6:09 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
That's the one Taz! Is the other one 91E?
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196. HurricaneGeek
9:09 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Good evening everybody.
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195. LowerCal
6:06 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
That red line is the 26C SST isotherm.
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194. Tazmanian
1:04 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115234
193. TheCaneWhisperer
1:00 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
GFS still kinda sticky on the path over Mexico? I am not versed on those maps RL3 but, is that a High Pressure Isobar (RED) in the top left?
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192. Baybuddy
1:01 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Hmmm... CBS... They can cook a fake document on MS Word and try to pass it off as a forty year old Air National Guard Memo. I guess bob can stll be impartial. The elected representative of the New Orleans area who could and should have been beating down doors to get improvements made in his home city, instead was hiding tens of thousands of BRIBE dollars in his freezer.... WHATEVER. Of course no one in NOLA Had any idea about the defects in the levy design...or of the rampant corruption concerning the levy commission. My ass! Its been a friggin joke since I was a kid. BTW, you dont hear coastal Mississippi sniviling about lack of help. Thats cause they have been busting their collective asses to rebuild since day one. My family in Slidell, same thing. How damn many cameras were there in Slidell, Pearl River et al? The entire damn state/city infastructure during Katrina was Democrat. Does Bob mention that? The Commander in Chief Cannot deploy troops into a state without a request from the Governor of that state. When did Blanco(who curiously enough is NOT seeking reelection) make the declaration? How long does it take to mount a troop movement on a scale necessary to rescue an Entire coastline. QUIT BRINGING POLITICS INTO NATURAL DISASTERS.
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191. Chicklit
12:54 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Cool article, Patchmedic. I passed that one along. More confident when the predictions say 15-20% chance is high. Though I will not send it to my friends in Ft. Lauderdale for fear of complacency.
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190. RL3AO
7:54 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
1
189. TheCaneWhisperer
12:39 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Dynamics are most important!
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188. RL3AO
7:36 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
Posted By: HURRICANE911 at 7:19 PM CDT on May 24, 2007.
who cares about EPAC so what


I would guess people in Mexico.
187. TheCaneWhisperer
12:33 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: nash28 at 12:06 AM GMT on May 25, 2007.

Guys! Many of you are forgetting that what the jet stream is doing now (late May) has absolutely ZERO bearing on what the season may or may not have in store for us. It is DYNAMIC, much like the troughiness that we are seeing. Besides, the month of May is not supposed to be pumping out TD's anyway.


I agree with you Nash but, Dynamics are what start the possiblity of formation! At this point in the season, Dynamics are all I am looking at!
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186. HIEXPRESS
12:32 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
By: Skyepony at 5:02.
... dealing with after cane life with no AC or TV. One nephew of mine was scarred more by a weeks loss of X-box use than anything.


Not getting commercial on you... But when the power goes out for days, many people, whether due to health or age, need air conditioning. To run an A/C with a generator - efficiency is the key - look at the EER (energy efficiency ratio) quite simply BTU/watts. Example a 7500btu portable (not window) units by a California company called Sunpenton are very efficient - 620watts or 12+ EER. A single "dryer hose" exhaust goes out the window. A deep cycle (boat/trolling motor) battery can run a 12V TV &/or video game for a long time. They can also run a small fan or light for late at night when the generators get turned off. With one of the newer small inverters (90% efficient)a couple of compact fluorescent bulbs can operate all night on a charge.
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185. LowerCal
5:35 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
hurricane23, the colors/classifications are relative to each county's long term average.
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184. Tazmanian
12:33 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
: LowerCal yes it dos
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115234
183. Tazmanian
12:27 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
: LowerCal i see now



has any one noted any thing odd about the blogs tonight?
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115234
182. hurricane23
8:31 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Just dont understand how you can have places all the way up north at a higher risk then the keys and south florida.I cant just dont agree with those maps.Also iam still not 100 persent sold on la nina developing this season.We could very well stay neutral.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
181. LowerCal
5:29 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
Taz the one they're speaking of in the TWOEP is this one ... which already has a nice spiral to it.

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180. Tazmanian
12:26 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
oh wants to come overe and party on my blog tonight


ITS PARTY TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115234
179. LowerCal
5:22 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
Not the lowest risk, just less than 80% of it's long term average.
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178. weatherboykris
12:23 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
I don't get it either Adrian.They use some sort of weird analog system(something to do with ENSO) though,so I wouldn't give it much weight.
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177. crackerlogic
12:08 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
This is just my thought and how I look at the upcoming seasons. For example as the year goes on I look at the records that are set or close to being set. Coldest week since 19xx, most rain in this are in a hundred years. The warmest Feb. in 40 years and so on and so on. What I do is I look at the hurricane season that year and surprisingly things match up. This year I noticed that each year I looked at the west coast of Florida was hit by at least 2 storms. The gulf coast and Carolinas was hit by at least 1 storm. Not very scientific but it seem to match up the last couple of years.
176. hurricane23
8:18 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
South florida at the lowest risk?Not sure how they come up with this.We should be at an elevated risk on any given season.

g
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
174. marlinsfan1
8:14 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Whats going on with all the tropical rain over cuba. I that heading toward the miami area? Cause we could use the rain.
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173. Patchmedic
12:11 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
http://news.ucf.edu/UCFnews/index?page=article&id=0024004102c4c1d99011146fc1c320060e2&mode=news


Possible county landfall for 2007 season from
University of Central Florida
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172. Tazmanian
12:08 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
we sould have 90E her soon

lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115234
171. LowerCal
5:06 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
First mention of tropical weather on the EPAC Tropical Weather Outlook.

TWOEP
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
400 PM PDT THU MAY 24 2007

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

A NEARLY-STATIONARY AREA OF LOW PRESSURE HAS FORMED ABOUT
550 MILES SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF MANZANILLO MEXICO. ENVIRONMENTAL
CONDITIONS ARE MARGINALLY FAVORABLE AND SLOW DEVELOPMENT IS
POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BROWN
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170. nash28
12:01 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Guys! Many of you are forgetting that what the jet stream is doing now (late May) has absolutely ZERO bearing on what the season may or may not have in store for us. It is DYNAMIC, much like the troughiness that we are seeing. Besides, the month of May is not supposed to be pumping out TD's anyway.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
169. TheCaneWhisperer
12:01 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
And when I said messy, I meant, models are all over the place at the end of the run!
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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.