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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517. weatherboykris
12:56 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Adrian.....even 2005 had some pretty strong late May troughs:

Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
516. weatherboykris
12:56 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Bill Gray says the average probability of a named storm landfall is 97%.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
515. WPBHurricane05
8:52 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
its not that I think we are going to get hit, something in my right side of my mind tells me this is the year for south florida. A # of areas are overdue for a storm, and this year looks like it might be just that.

You are correct Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are way overdue. West Palm Beach has had enough storms but there is a good chance that when Miami gets hit head that the upper keys to Martin County will be effected if the storm is large enough. Key West has also had a few close calls such as Dennis, Rita, Katrina.
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514. hurricane23
8:49 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Flboy The pattern meaning FRONTS continue to dive down into the southeast U.S. and plus high windshear across most parts of the basin.Iam personally leaning to a quite june and maybe first have of july which is quite typical cause these months usually produce low activity.Things dont usually ramp up till the begining of august in a normal season.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
512. weatherboykris
12:51 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
I think so too STL....which is dissapointing.After last year's very well-thought out and pretty accurate forecast I was expecting better.
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510. hurricane23
8:48 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
We'll plywood then i guess you can with accuweather's outlook.

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509. weatherboykris
12:48 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
The pattern of high wind shear.Which,as I just said,should reverse itself.
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507. weatherboykris
12:45 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Yes,but both the GFS and ECMWF are showing a big upper ridge building into the Atlantic in about a week and a half.Shear will drop considerably.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
506. hurricane23
8:38 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: Tazmanian at 8:16 PM EDT on May 25, 2007.

IF YOU ALL GO BY THAT FORCAST YOU BE VARY SORRY THAT YOU DID.

Taz thats exactly what i stated you should always be prepare no matters what the outlooks say.There's no need fo bashing just let it go and lets see what the season brings.

One thing to note look for a slow june if the current pattern persists.Dont see any development across the basin atleast threw the next 7 days.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
505. weatherboykris
12:40 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
plywood---they are forecasting 0 storms in the GOM,and none in the West Carribean 'till October.No offense Adrian,but I'm starting to agree with those people who were questioning the authors' abilities a few days ago.
Member Since: December 9, 2006 Posts: 125 Comments: 11346
504. plywoodstatenative
12:37 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
its not that I think we are going to get hit, something in my right side of my mind tells me this is the year for south florida. A # of areas are overdue for a storm, and this year looks like it might be just that.
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502. Tazmanian
12:15 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
IF YOU ALL GO BY THAT FORCAST YOU BE VARY SORRY THAT YOU DID
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115241
501. hurricane23
8:10 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Plywood the outlook was released at midnight and looks good for the U.S. if it verifies.But the main message to all is no matter what all the outlooks say meaning accuweather noaa,tsr and so on you should always prepare cause it only takes that one storm moving right over your community.Adrian

Independent 2007 Outlook
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
500. plywoodstatenative
12:06 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Okay, 23 where is that forecast you were hyping up so much.
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499. nash28
12:05 AM GMT on May 26, 2007
Hey 23. Go check out my blog. Yes, shameless plug:-)
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
498. hurricane23
8:02 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
GFS seems to be holding high pressure steady threw the weekend and much of next week.South florida looks dry besides a view scattered showers here and then.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13804
497. Tazmanian
11:39 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
but back then they where not nameing storms
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496. WPBHurricane05
7:39 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Thanks MichaelSTL.
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494. MZT
11:31 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
The EPac system sure looks like a depression already. If that was in the Carribbean, we probably would have sent a plane there by now and identified it as one.
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493. WPBHurricane05
7:24 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
About the model that MichaelSTL showed us:

Hmm...When was the last time we saw 2 May storms? Was it an active season that year? I'm thinking that 1 May storm is odd but it can happen, but 2 May storms? I think that would be a sign of the season. Although it is not the first time that the CMC showed a storm developing and moving in virtually the same spot. And don't go by the forecast pressure. MichaelSTL wrote a blog about how misleading the global models are when it comes to pressure.
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492. Skyepony (Mod)
11:16 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
At least 3 killed in Central Texas flooding
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491. WPBHurricane05
7:13 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
DATE/TIME LAT LON CLASSIFICATION
25/2230 UTC 10.3N 108.6W T1.5/1.5
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490. Skyepony (Mod)
11:06 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
cloudsat~ For the die hards todays 7:27 pass, blue box 31. Usually there isn't so much purple so low at this point.
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489. Tazmanian
11:04 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Tropical Weather Outlook

Statement as of 4:00 PM PDT on May 25, 2007


For the eastern North Pacific...east of 140 degrees west longitude..
A well-organized tropical disturbance is located about 550 miles
south-southwest of Manzanillo Mexico. Environmental conditions
appear conducive for further development...and a tropical
depression could form later tonight or tomorrow as the system moves
slowly westward.
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 115241
487. WPBHurricane05
6:53 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
If you get WPEC News 12 in West Palm Beach, Storm 2007 is coming up at 7 PM.
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486. CrazyDuke
10:43 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Link

Quickscat shows what appears to be 2 CoCs within 90E within close proximity with 20 to 25 knot winds on the west side.

Link

There appears to be another very weak circulation to the east of 90E, but I don't see any convection with it.
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485. Patrap
5:26 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
WAVCIS GOM WINDS 60 hour Model run..Link
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484. IKE
5:22 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: leftovers at 5:12 PM CDT on May 25, 2007.
Looks like a weak low pressure has developed in the SW Carib. Should be interesting to see the vis. in the morning.


I see that spin...looks like it's around 12.5N, 81W...must be what the NAM model has picked up on.
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483. SkulDouggery
10:19 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Almost cane season, how fitting there's a giant question mark in the Atlantic this evening!
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481. Inyo
10:00 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Too bad for 90E that she (he?) is moving away from that almost 90 degree water. At least it is not moving towards land.
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478. Thunderstorm2
5:30 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
By Wednesday 90E will become a Hurricane according to this

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477. Thunderstorm2
5:20 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
The NHC is falling asleep at the controls
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475. Skyepony (Mod)
9:17 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
It is a special feature in the last EPAC discussion.


For the boaters~ The Coast Guard is soliciting public comment on the need to continue providing high frequency (HF) radio broadcasts of weather forecasts and warnings
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474. MZT
9:17 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Things are gettin' kinda spiral-y out in the east Pacific.

Pacific Invest
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473. WPBHurricane05
5:08 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
The NHC should at least give a marine warning.

When I said that I was thinking more of a "special tropical disturbance bulletin".
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472. WPBHurricane05
5:06 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
NA

Click on the image to make it larger.
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471. Skyepony (Mod)
8:56 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
1.5 is 25kts, agreed it's higher now as that last pass was a few hours ago & it looks to be strengthening rapidly... I wish I could find that link about the when to name peramiters. There is a 6 hr or so rule in there, to show it will maintain as well. Just noting the recent trend~ waiting as long as possible by their perimeters on nearly every storm before calling it.
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470. WPBHurricane05
5:04 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
According to the Dvorak Intensity Chart 90E has to be at least a 30 MPH depression, although it looks much more organized. It is no threat to land but it is in the Pacific which is a major shipping route. The NHC should at least give a marine warning.
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469. WPBHurricane05
5:01 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Dvorak Current Intensity Chart
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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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