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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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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168. StormJunkie
12:01 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Yep, great map for the big picture as you say. Sort it out...lmao ☺
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167. TheCaneWhisperer
11:57 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Unfortunatly they are all unlabeled! Imagine trying to sort that out! I use it for the overall confidence and current and mean position of the big picture!
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166. StormJunkie
11:59 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Thanks TCW ☺ That is what I was not getting!
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165. Chicklit
11:57 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Does anyone even know where the ITCZ (or whatever it's called) will set up yet?
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11353
164. StormJunkie
11:56 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
More legit? Rhode Is has a better chance of getting hit then OBX? It is quite obvious they are projecting a Carib storm to move N...
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163. TheCaneWhisperer
11:55 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
It is a forcast map! Just like any other model mean SJ, the farther you go out the bigger the spread gets. The red lines are all the various models.
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162. COHurricanes2007
11:54 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Another link to a 2007 hurricane outlook probability. This one looks more legit.

Link

The April predictors used for this forecast are as follows :

Niño 4 SST anomalies ...

850mb Zonal Wind Central Pacific ...

North Atlantic SST's ...

South Atlantic SST's ...

Atlantic Multi-decadal Oscillation ...

Southeastern Pacific SLP ...

500 mb Temperature Anomalies ...

Globally Integrated Angular Momentum ...

Outgoing Long-wave Radiation ...

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161. StormJunkie
11:48 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
I agree chick. Very odd the Gulf bias on those predictions.

No doubt it will be indepth 23, but will it be accurate? And do they have any credentials? Not that it really matters, I will read it, but like everything else I still say it is all foregeussing. I am geussing it will be an active season based on no El Niño, warm SSTs, and the dust not being like it was last year. I have no clue about the shear though, along with most everyone else.

Alright cl ☺ so it is a E coast Fla owned company based in Tx trying to keep tourism and home sales up ¿~)
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160. Chicklit
11:47 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Maybe the Chambers of Commerce, Tourism Boards, and Boards of Realtors figured since forecasting is speculative, they'd get into the game, too.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11353
159. StormJunkie
11:41 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Thanks TCW, I got the vorticity thing.

I am confused by the different lines. The key does not make much sense to me. What does the fact that the Red and blue lines are very controlled in the first few frames and then go hay wire. The yellow and grey are the models and the green is climatology? Also what is the # of runs have to do with it?

500mb NCEP Ensamble


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158. hurricane23
7:44 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
That makes no sence to me how they have south florida shaded in green when we should be at an elevated risk on any given season.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
157. Chicklit
11:40 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
I am questioning the credibility of the folks who claim 87% success showing no storms on the east coast of Florida...
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11353
156. TheCaneWhisperer
11:41 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Current Surface Analysis Map that is! Green line is climatology, yellow line is the 00Z run (the one to follow now) and the grey line is the previous 12Z run and vice versa when the 12Z is out.
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155. TheCaneWhisperer
11:36 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
That map is the Ensembel Mean for Major Troughs, Jet Stream, High and Low Pressure. You need to have a Surface map handy to understand where positive and negatives are.
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154. hurricane23
7:34 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Posted By: bjdsrq at 7:08 PM EDT on May 24, 2007. (hide)
So where can we see the forecast record for independentwx.com? Any credentials? Or is it run by some prison inmate or wannabe met?

Actually this is a friend of mine so please relax with the rudeness!There outlook will be released at midnight and it will the best outlook by far this season with incredible depth on all subjects from steering currents to other atmospheric factors that will come into play this season.Not even noaa comes close to the great detail they will provide.Trust me.

I highly recommend it you check it out.

Independent Weather 2007 Outlook
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
153. Chicklit
11:35 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Perhaps an annotation to the 2007 Hurricane Almanac is in order...
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11353
152. TheCaneWhisperer
11:36 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
PVA (Postive Vorticity Rotation) and NVA (Negative Vorticity Rotation) explained here SJ
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151. Tazmanian
11:34 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
its 5pm its party time on my blog oh wants to party
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115243
149. StormJunkie
11:33 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
TCW, can you give a little more explain on that map?
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148. StormJunkie
11:30 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Posted By: MichaelSTL at 11:26 PM GMT on May 24, 2007.
2006 didn't have a slow start... 4 storms in June and July is well above normal (which is only 1 storm).


What are you talking about 23? 2006 - Slow season, not a slow start.

LMAO chicklit ☺ ☻ ☺ ☻

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147. TheCaneWhisperer
11:26 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
You can see in the jet stream is forcast to be below climatology at the end of the run! I have been monitoring this and, this was the part of the reason for my July 4th start date. Andrea was a surprise to us all and is questionable but, reguardless she was named. I personally do not think we will see any activity until the first week of July!
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146. hurricane23
7:29 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
2004 had a slow start and look at how it turned out besides june and july are slow months anyway.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
145. Chicklit
11:22 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
LOL... That outlook is so useless... they even have "forecasts" for the next decade...
Maybe it's the old 'remove thumb from butt and predict which way the poop will fly' forecast method, which is comparable only to the 'split freshly killed hog and look at its entrails to predict storm tracks method.'
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11353
144. hurricane23
7:27 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Posted By: G35Wayne at 7:10 PM EDT on May 24, 2007. (hide)
Its probably gonna be another slow start to the season. looks like the jetstream is really far south like 06.

Thats what iam leaning towards also.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
143. StormJunkie
11:26 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Intersting points STL ☺
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142. StormJunkie
11:26 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Can you bring that down a notch TCW :~) Not sure I followed.
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140. TheCaneWhisperer
11:19 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
hemispheric 500 mb Z
i. to get overview of major troughs, ridges, short-waves, etc. present & their motion
ii. (geostrophic) wind pattern (jet axis, direction of flow, etc.)
iii. possible PVA, NVA locations
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139. StormJunkie
11:14 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
bjd...lol

Some one did post a copy of NC States forecast the other day. It seems they were one of the few to predict a low storm total last year. Seemed like they were around 17 for this year. But, I regress. foreguessing is phooy. Tell me what the shear, the high, the SSTs, and the African dust are going to do and then you have a forecast.

TCW, what is that? Forecast of the JS?
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138. TheCaneWhisperer
11:03 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
NCEP 500MB ENSEMBLE (Average Of All The Major Models) Are forcasting a more zonal pattern towards the end of the run once this trough comes through, still rather messy though.
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137. G35Wayne
11:09 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Its probably gonna be another slow start to the season. looks like the jetstream is really far south like 06.
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136. bjdsrq
11:02 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
So where can we see the forecast record for independentwx.com? Any credentials? Or is it run by some prison inmate or wannabe met?
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134. Tazmanian
11:02 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
i am haveing a blog party tonight at my blog
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115243
133. StormJunkie
10:54 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Sounds odd STL. I went and looked around the site a little more...

Good to see you SMU.

It is the IWC or something Independant weather or something. Adrian/hurricane23 has been hyping it up for about the past week....Yep, what Flboy said...

To all of these Foregeusses, I say phooy! They are not worth the paper or cyberspace the are written on. Show me a good season forecast in the last couple of years. Now if you can predict the postiion of the high and how much shear we will see over the next 4 months then I will be impressed ☺
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132. SMU88
10:56 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Thanks FlBoy...that was the one I was looking for.
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 29
129. nash28
10:49 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
That does sound amazingly low. I also noticed they didn't shade the east coast of FL at all. Looks like they were talking about the Gulf.
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128. SMU88
10:46 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Didn't someone say that today would be released the forecasting by some group that is usually the most reliable??? Anyone know where I can find the website with this forecast?
Member Since: August 20, 2005 Posts: 0 Comments: 29
127. StormJunkie
10:46 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Welcome COH

Interesting map. Do they give any explain for the 7 named storms? That is an amazingly low number compartively speaking.
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126. COHurricanes2007
10:43 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Link

2007 Hurricane landfall outlook.
These ppl say they are 87% accurate on their forecasts.
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125. StormJunkie
10:39 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Evening all ☺

Just noticed that LC, and good to see you. They just kinda let it sit there....

Also noticed that the CMC and Nogaps are starting to hint at lower shear in the S Central and Western Carib in about 5 days.
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124. nash28
10:37 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Evening ladies and gents. What's cookin'?
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123. LowerCal
3:36 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
The 12z cmc and ukmet make a TC out of the "Invest" near 12N 108W. The 12z nogaps and 06z gfs are more tentative in the development.
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122. sandcrab39565
5:15 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
National Weather Services Provides Vital Support for Emergency Management






Lexington, KY - The National Emergency Management Association (NEMA) is voicing its support for the National Weather Service, an office which is essential to emergency preparedness and provides timely warnings and information to ensure that people are out of harm's way in anticipation of weather-related disasters. According to Albert Ashwood, Director of the Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and NEMA President, the work of the NWS in providing forecast information has allowed emergency management officials to make decisions that are certain to have saved lives. "Local forecasters are available 24-hours a day, seven days a week and have forged very strong relationships with their emergency management customers", Ashwood said.



NEMA believes that support and services through the National Weather Service should not only be maintained, but enhanced. Programs like the NOAA weather radio system and the NWS Storm Ready initiative have helped numerous local communities and counties become better prepared and should be expanded. State emergency management directors across the country call on Congress and the federal government to ensure that the National Weather Service is adequately resourced to fulfill its public safety mission.



NEMA represents emergency management directors in the 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia.

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121. LowerCal
2:43 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
The SSD has a couple of floaters labeled Invest but nothing is on the NRL site yet.
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120. RL3AO
4:41 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
That usually happens. We will see what happens a 0000UTC
119. Tazmanian
9:40 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
well the SDD says there is but not the navy site yet
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115243

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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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