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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619. kmanislander
12:12 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
I've been checking buoy 42058 for the past two days and there is no read out of obs from it. Does anyone know why that is ?
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617. Thunderstorm2
8:09 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
Done that pat.

Now i hope Aaron comes online soon cause no one can put up with this all day.
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
615. Patrap
7:08 AM CDT on May 26, 2007
If you minus the post ..it will dissapear.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127355
614. kmanislander
12:07 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
I guess I'll come back when Admin has permanently removed this @#$%
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613. Thunderstorm2
8:04 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
There will be more stuff like that during Hurricane Season because that seems the time when this site gets busy.

and then there will be STORMTOP..lol
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
611. WPBHurricane05
8:01 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
Well this is a blog that anyone who signs up can get into. But still don't understand why that is necessary. And schools are getting out as summer approaches so this ends up getting worse.
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610. Thunderstorm2
8:02 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
They've no doubt watched too much gory movies...lmbo
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
608. StormJunkie
12:01 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Surface map W Sat

Not sure I want any now TS2 ☺
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607. kmanislander
12:00 PM GMT on May 26, 2007
Good morning all

Anonymity brings out the worst in some people
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606. Starwoman
7:58 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
reported the poster and hid the posts...
sick!!

I really don't understand people like that. :-(
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605. StormJunkie
11:59 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Heat potential
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604. StormJunkie
11:58 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
SSTs
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603. Thunderstorm2
7:57 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
Some people never learn.

G'morning SJ, no it's not a great way to start the day especially if your having or had your breakfast...lol
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
601. StormJunkie
11:57 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Shear
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600. WPBHurricane05
7:56 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
This is completely uncalled for.
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599. StormJunkie
11:56 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Please report MEh's posts.

If they are hid on your screen, don't look at them unless you want to see some real nasty stuff.

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597. StormJunkie
11:55 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Morning TS2☺ Just trying to give everyone a little warning. That is not a good way to start the day :~(
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596. Thunderstorm2
7:53 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
They weren't hid on my screen, but they are now...lol

Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
595. StormJunkie
11:51 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Please report MEh's posts.

If they are hid on your screen, don't look at them unless you want to see some real nasty stuff.

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593. Thunderstorm2
7:50 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
MissesEsterhouse, This is not the place to post these images. Please stop doing it.

Thanks
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
589. hurricane23
11:39 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Great to hear from you hope you have a great weekend.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
587. hurricane23
11:34 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
We should remain rather dry down here across south florida this weekend as most of the tropical rains should remain to our south.Watch out for those rip-currents at the beaches today as winds will slowly come down later today.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
586. StormJunkie
11:31 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
NC State Seasonal Forecast

CSU Seasonal Forecast

Geuss we will know in about four or five months how everyone did ☺
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585. hurricane23
11:29 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hey storm....

Watching that convection bubble up down there in the SW caribbean.Not really buying the 1000mb low with the NAM on its lastest run.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
578. Thunderstorm2
7:00 AM EDT on May 26, 2007
Well Done to Rob for popping into the lion's den early this morning and he's right we shouldn't really pounce on their forecast before the season starts.

Have a fantastic Saturday everybody!!!!
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 129 Comments: 7608
577. hurricane23
11:00 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
We're probably several decades away a least from being able to accurately predict landfalls several months in advance of the season.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
575. StormJunkie
10:13 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Morning y'all ☺

Rob, While I understand and agree with some of your statements and appreciate the overall goal to make long term forecasts. What I disagree with is the over confidence which many of these forecasts are written with. Many times they are stated more as fact then statistical geusses, which is what they are. Should, could, would, may, are all excellent terms when discussing the factors that will effect the weather patterns for the next few months. One thing I have always loved from the NHC's discussions is their willingness to use the term low confidence.

That said, I have my doubts about the weakeness in the high remaining there for the entire season. I am geussing that we will see it bridging together a bit more by early to mid July.
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574. hurricane23
10:52 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Good morning....

Predictions are just simply that predictions and no matter what the outlooks are calling for everyone living in a hurricane prone area should always prepare for the worst and hope for the best.You should never base your preparation on predictions cause its very important to keep in mind that even a quite season can turn out bad.Its not the number of storms that form that matters its the ones the actually make landfall that have the greatest impact.Nobody knows what is going takeplace this season and the best option is just prepare and have that plan in place.Adrian

It only takes one.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13621
573. Patrap
5:18 AM CDT on May 26, 2007
I have never ..hardly..seen a GOM Hurricane.or strong TS..not impact somewhere. Albeit dissapation can occur ,a storm of some magnitude.,once enters or forms in the GOM. Is landlocked. It has to strike somewhere.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 419 Comments: 127355
571. StoryOfTheCane
9:48 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Caribbean is gettin bubbly

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570. StoryOfTheCane
9:44 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
was wondering when this little guy would come



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569. StoryOfTheCane
9:41 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hurricane911 seemed like he had a few things die up his rear
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About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.