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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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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566. anvilhead
11:00 PM PDT on May 25, 2007
Yeah i am not a geek................ sk8 4 life
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565. RobM
5:46 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
I've already wagered enough money for one year. lol

Rob
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564. hurricaneman23
5:21 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
hey rob are u willing to wager money on your prediction. i am willing to bet any amount of money that at least 2 hurricanes will hit the U.S., any amount.
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562. RobM
5:17 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hello everyone...I have lurked here for a while but this is my first post. I'm Rob Mann, one of the authors of the IWIC forecast which I see has garnered a lot of attention here today. I would like to make a few clarifications regarding that forecast.

First, I'd like to gratefully thank everyone who has read the forecast, whether you disagree with it or not. We always welcome constructive criticism.

Second, no I am not delusional. I see several people questioning our no US landfall call. While it is understandable that one would be skeptical of such a prediction...some of the comments I've seen go quite a bit further than that. Yes, it would be very rare for no US landfalls to happen, especially in an active season. I am aware of that. But think for a minute...was there a precedent for 2005? What about 2004? Every hurricane season is unique...and just about every hurricane season brings a new record or characteristic to the table.

In the case of 2007, we truely have not seen any overwhelming signals for a landfall along any section of the US coastline. Believe me, I was surprised by the implication and did numerous double-checks. But it is indeed backed up in our data and explained thoroughly in the forecast. Whether one believes what is presented is completely up to choice. But to shoot down the forecasters as "silly" or "bozos" just because of the weird prediction is really hard for me to understand. I'm sure people would've said the same things if someone forecasted 28 named storms and 4 major US landfalls in 2005.

However, I'm not sure where people are coming with the idea that this is just for "attention"...IWIC has never been picked up by a media outlet and is hardly a huge general public source for weather information. Our target audience is other weather hobbyists who should 1)know not to use forecasts in life-death situations, and 2)realize they need to be prepared regardless. We aim to be accurate, not stand out. Moreover, the fact that we're unofficial is stated in the introduction as well as in our disclaimer which is easily accessible at the left menu.

So with all that said, I hope everyone will wait a couple months before calling bust on any forecast. It will certainly be interesting to see after all this. As minor imperfections are to be expected in such a long-range outlook, it would not be surprising to see 1-2 weak TS landfalls along the US. If it's worse than that and I bust horribly I'll take it like a man and work to improve the methodology...because it will always be our long-term goal to make accurate landfall forecasts possible. Some may think that's crazy...maybe it is...but you don't know til you keep trying, right?

Best regards to all!
Rob Mann
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561. IKE
12:05 AM CDT on May 26, 2007
Just keep an eye or 2 on the Caribbean...lots of clouds down there.
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560. COHurricanes2007
5:01 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
I see. kinda looks really legit. GFS is so disorganized, and I cant even tell whats forming and not.
559. IKE
12:00 AM CDT on May 26, 2007
The NAM is unreliable...worth watching though.
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558. COHurricanes2007
4:58 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
This 1004mb low kinda scares me.
557. IKE
11:56 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
I've read about 100 predictions...it does all run together after awhile.

911 was vulgar about it. I reported him.

Here's the 00 UTC NAM...1004mb low east of the Yucatan in 84 hours...Link
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556. COHurricanes2007
4:51 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
I kinda agree with Hurricane911 but not that harshly. We shouldnt really be predicting time to time. GOD really knows whats coming!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Just talk about a hurricane specifically when one forms.
555. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
4:29 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
I have a feeling they said that before, exact same words too.
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554. moonlightcowboy
4:30 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Next storm could be worse, so prepare early

By MELISSA M. SCALLAN

GULFPORT --
The next storm that hits South Mississippi could be worse than Hurricane Katrina.

State and local emergency managers know residents don't want to hear that, but this area was compromised by Katrina, so a less powerful, smaller storm still could do as much damage, and people need to prepare early.

Some of the problems are more open spaces and fewer buildings and trees to absorb impact. Thousands of residents are more at risk because they live in FEMA trailers or mobile homes.

Mike Womack, director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said he has two concerns - people who didn't get damage in Katrina and those who have moved here since the storm and don't know how to prepare, including immigrants and volunteers.

"Now we have people who think because their home didn't get water in Katrina, they don't have to worry about any storm," he said. "We also have new residents, and they have no idea how to prepare for a hurricane."

Brian Adam, emergency manager in Hancock County, agreed.

"The Camille syndrome was definitely a problem for all of us," he said, referring to 1969's Hurricane Camille.

Womack and the emergency managers in the coastal counties met with the Sun Herald on Tuesday and talked about what they learned from Katrina and what residents need to do to survive a storm.

They are pleading with people to prepare an evacuation plan and put together a hurricane supply kit before the season starts, so they don't have to scramble if a storm threatens.

The three counties work together to determine when to call for an evacuation, but emergency officials said it can be tricky because one county may need to evacuate before another, depending on the location of the storm and where it will hit first.

And no one can force residents to evacuate, said Butch Loper, emergency manager in Jackson County.

"There's no teeth in words," he said. "You can't make people leave their homes if they don't want to."

Womack encouraged residents to know alternate highways in case main arteries, such as U.S. 49 and Interstate 10, become clogged with traffic.

"The more we can educate them that there are alternate routes, the better," he said.

Residents need to know what flood zone and evacuation zone they live in, and the two aren't necessarily the same, even though both are labeled A, B and C.

All three emergency managers said they have begun using geography to describe what areas need to be evacuated, not just the zone letters.

Womack also recommends people know what storm surge zone they live in. These are labeled as Category 1-5, the same as hurricanes.

GULFPORT --
Since Katrina, residents also should know what the elevation of their home is. Loper recommends that if people don't live at least 30 feet above sea level, they should evacuate.

Rupert Lacy, deputy director of the Harrison County Emergency Management Agency, recommends 35 feet.

Part of the problem, he said, is the silt in the Mississippi Sound, which makes the water more shallow and could make storm surge higher.

"We have not had any winter storms to shift that silt," he said. "And the barrier islands are shifting, so we could get Category 3 winds and Category 4 storm surge."

The emergency managers said they don't want people to become complacent because no hurricanes hit land last year.

"I think this year they may be apt to take our advice and move quicker," Lacy said. "We're going to be quicker for the first storm, but we're going to get some complacency again, especially if we have some near misses."
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553. FlowCoolFL
4:26 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
lol what a gerk
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552. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
4:19 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
well that rant went too far
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549. moonlightcowboy
3:59 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
The image “http://media.sunherald.com/images/graphics/hurricane_evacuation_routes.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.
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548. Chicklit
3:35 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
And as far as shear goes, a storm only needs to find an area with low shear:
It's definitely lower than it was last year...When do the storms begin to roll off the African coast? That's when things start cookin'...Regarding Stormhank's question...did any of you read the independent hurricane outlook? their sayin no cyclones will affect the US this season? kinda hard to beleive huh? anyone have input?That was battered around a bit earlier and the general concensus was, 'wait and see...it's still too early to tell.'
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11178
547. moonlightcowboy
3:40 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
img src="http://www.sunherald.com/201/story/61796.html" width="466px" height="325px" alt="Blank" />

Design complete for Katrina monument
Fundraising for fountain continues
By J.R. WELSH
baybureau@aol.com

BAY ST. LOUIS --
Design is complete and fundraising continues for a $1.5 million Hurricane Katrina volunteers memorial to be built at the Interstate 10 welcome center in Hancock County.

The imposing memorial, consisting of a walkway, pool and wave-shaped fountain, will rise 30 feet in the air, exactly the height of the storm surge that swamped the county in 2005. The memorial is being built in gratitude to the thousands of volunteers who have come from across the country to help in hurricane relief.

The project is possible through the unpaid work of county residents and businesses. It was the brainchild of James Seglund, chairman of the Katrina Volunteers Memorial Fund and was designed by Helios Design Group, a subsidiary of JM Digital Corp. The company created the design at no charge.

The memorial will be a 30-foot-tall obelisk made of dark marble or granite, broken down into layers signifying each coastal city affected by the hurricane. A copper-lined channel will run down the front, directing water from the top into a mosaic-tiled pool. The pool will be rimmed with granite slabs and surrounded by a four-foot-high wall.

"We have been waiting to get a cost estimate on the fountain," Seglund said Thursday. "We have that now, and serious fundraising is under way."

"We think the end result will be a constant beacon of gratitude and continue to make an impression on future generations," said Patrick Bruno, art director of Helios Design Group.

An initial fundraiser was held in March at the Diamondhead Country Club to kick off the effort.

Seglund said donations to the memorial construction can be made to the Katrina Volunteers Foundation through the Gulf Coast Community Foundation and mailed to P.O. Box 2984, Gulfport, Miss., 39505. More information is available at 255-3451.
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546. Tazmanian
3:37 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Posted By: stormhank at 3:30 AM GMT on May 26, 2007.

hey all... did any of you read the independent hurricane outlook? their sayin no cyclones will affect the US this season? kinda hard to beleive huh? anyone have input?


this one DONT GO BY THERE FORCAST and now i will drop this

Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114750
545. stormhank
3:29 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
hey all... did any of you read the independent hurricane outlook? their sayin no cyclones will affect the US this season? kinda hard to beleive huh? anyone have input?
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544. weatherblog
2:40 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
My predictions are it will be a mix between an '06 and an '05 season. I predict 16-20 storms. Half of the storms will go out to sea and other ones will either affect land someway or not go out to sea. It won't though, like 2005 have as many cat 5's; probably a lot of t-s's.
1 in May
1 in June
1 in July
5 in August
8 in September
1 in November
2 in December/January

None in October...

Tropical Storms--12
Hurricane(s) cat 1--0
Hurricane(s) cat 2--1
Hurricane(s) cat 3--4
Hurricane(s) cat 4--2
Hurricane(s) cat 5--0

Main Targets:

GOM COAST: 4 ts's and 1 cat2
WEST FL COAST: 1 cat4
GEORGIA AND CENTRAL TO NORTHERN FL EASTERN COAST: 1 ts
SOUTH FLORIDA: 1 cat3 and 1 cat4
CAROLINAS:N/A
NEW ENGLAND: N/A





Even though some of my forecasts have been wrong before, I doubt this one will be totally wrong..lol..I give my forecast 45-50% chance of it being three-fourts correct. But in '04 my forecast was 95% right. So..yeah...but that's just my forecast


In 2006, this was my forecast: 15 storms

12 ts's, 1 cat1, 1 cat2, 0 cat3, 0 cat4, 1 cat5

It was about half wrong...but that was just some of my forecast.
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542. jake436
8:41 PM CST on May 25, 2007
I don't know how to post the answer I got, but I asked "Will a hurricane strike the US this year?", and the answer I got was "It's a certainty".
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541. MZT
2:38 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
The GFDL seems to be groping with that invest... but it doesn't lose it, either. Canadian model seems to be taking an interest in it, too.
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539. kmanislander
2:13 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
The Caribbean Sea...
unlike the windy conditions in the Gulf...broad sfc troughing is
producing a weak pres grad in the Carib with two sfc trough axes
being analyzed in the region. One is in the NW Carib running
from Honduras to NW Cuba. There is a fair amount of low to mid
level cyclonic turning about the axis...but based on sfc obs it
does not appear closed.

Closed surface low on the way ??
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538. kmanislander
2:04 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
who stretched the blog ???
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537. HIEXPRESS
1:47 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Q:Will a named storm strike the continental U.S. in 2007?
A:Don't Count on it.
So that's where they got it.
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536. HurricaneGeek
9:46 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Hey Good evening everybody!!
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535. WPBHurricane05
9:35 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Here is the GFDL model forecast.
NA
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534. RL3AO
8:31 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
1
533. RL3AO
8:26 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
I was expecting a TD by now. I guess I was wrong.
530. SMU88
12:26 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Well I just finished reading the forecast from the Independent Weather Information Center and I am convinced that 2007 will be like 2006. So everyone should forget about the hurricane season this year and prepare for the 2008 season.

By the way...their forecast is in direct contradiction to Stormtop, I mean StormKat. I am now confused who should I believe????? HA HA HA
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528. MZT
1:12 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Yeah, June cyclones are not that unusual, and ordinarily are tropical storms... nothing more than warm-up events.
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526. WPBHurricane05
9:11 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
In 2004 Alex formed in August.
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524. Patrap
8:09 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
GOES Water Vapor Loop of Gulf and CaribbeanLink
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
523. weatherboykris
1:03 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
I know Adrian.The past has no effect on the future.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
522. hurricane23
9:00 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Just for the heck of it, lets say south florida is due to get hit by a hurricane this year. That doesn't mean anything unless the steering pattern actually supports a landfall. otherwise, you can throw the "being due" talk out the window.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13629
521. Patrap
8:00 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
My forecast for 07 5
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 421 Comments: 127592
520. weatherboykris
1:00 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Actually,that 2005 trough is stronger than anything we've seen since April.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346

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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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