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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469. WPBHurricane05
5:01 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Dvorak Current Intensity Chart
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468. IKE
3:54 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
18 UTC NAM...1008mb low in the NW Caribbean in 84 hours...Link

NAM is hard to believe.
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466. Levi32
8:50 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Last year & with Andrea the trend seems to be wait till the T# reaches the highest threshold you can before calling it (3.5) then call it a TS...

That's rediculous. That thing has a closed rotary circulation with outstanding outflow and CDO it should be a 45-knot TS by now.
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465. Levi32
8:48 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
also, oddly, the 12z GFS doesn't seem to 'see' the storm at all even though it already exists. hmm.

That's probably because 90E is very small, and the GFS's resolution isn't high enough to pick it up yet. The NAM 'sees' it, because it has higher res.
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464. Skyepony (Mod)
8:42 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
25/1800 UTC 11.7N 109.6W T1.5/1.5 90E -- East Pacific Ocean

90E is still only got a T# of 1.5. Last year & with Andrea the trend seems to be wait till the T# reaches the highest threshold you can before calling it (3.5) then call it a TS...
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462. Inyo
8:33 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
How on earth is 90E not named yet, much less a depression? It looks amazing.

I wish it would bring rain to so-cal also but the temperatures of our water offshore are around 60. It would be toast before it got anywhere near us. Maybe some high clouds, or enough increase in moisture for a thunderstorm or two over Mt Baldy, but I don't see much more.

also, oddly, the 12z GFS doesn't seem to 'see' the storm at all even though it already exists. hmm.
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
461. nash28
8:17 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Ok, time to bail out of work. Have a great holiday weekend everyone. Let us also not forget what Memorial Day means.
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460. RL3AO
3:16 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
Hopefully if 90E develops and keeps going north and its remnants can bring some rain to SoCal. Not likely, but it would be nice.
458. MisterPerfect
7:47 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I got rain today, off and on. Supposed to be a damper on Memorial day. sorry Tampa

:(

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456. crackerlogic
7:42 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
yup, we are not getting any sea brees with the strong winds from the east now
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455. nash28
7:39 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Our winds should shift to a SE flow, which would bring much better precip chances.
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454. crackerlogic
7:37 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Tampa area should be getting some rain next week. That the word on the street anyway
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453. nash28
7:34 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
To hell with Cuba. How 'bout sending rain to Florida?
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452. crackerlogic
7:33 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Can we send a Ultra-cane to Cuba?
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451. kmanislander
7:29 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: Caymanite at 7:26 PM GMT on May 25, 2007.

Hey Kman, you want that wahoo or not. Caught 8 last weekend in the Brac. Call 916-5532 to collect.


Calling now !!
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450. kmanislander
7:23 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: stormpetrol at 7:09 PM GMT on May 25, 2007.

Hi Kman, We're finally getting some much needed rain and looking at that mid to low level swirl just west of us we'll be getting more for a day or two, if it wasn't for the shear it might have potential, also something north of the Panama area again, might have a slightly better chance, as for the EPAC , I wonder when they are going to give that well defined spin a name I swear it looks like a strong TS to me.


No question that the NW Caribbean has transitioned out of the winter dry spell. The spin W of us is providing the rain as the clouds from it are being sheared in our direction. As for down south,this is the time of year when thunderstorms hang around and get organised to come North. Shear has been very high across the Caribbean for weeks now but let's see what happens in the next two weeks or so.
The epac typically gets going early and this year looks to be no exception( although the "experts" say this yr will be below average there ). For now I am just grateful for the rain on my lawn and fruit trees LOL
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449. Hellsniper223
7:24 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
So, there ya have it, The 2008 Hurricane season will be as bad if not worse than 2005.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
448. Caymanite
7:21 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Hey Kman, you want that wahoo or not. Caught 8 last weekend in the Brac. Call 916-5532 to collect.
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447. MisterPerfect
7:06 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I've noticed my own pattern, though it probably has no validity whatsoever concerning ocean life/hurricane season activity

My Florida Keys Fishing Trips

2004 = Average Fishing in the Summer. Caught some decent stuff but paid more than was considered
2005 = Terrible Fishing that summer. I was the only person to land a fish that year out of three people. Mangrove Snapper I think.
2006 = Best fishing trip ever. We killed the ocean. East winds brought the Dolphin right inot the boat practically. Hundreds of dollars of Dolphin, Snapper, Jack and Grouper meat pludered!
2007 = Another average season. Snapper landed, Tarpon playing like porpoises.

HURRICANE ACTIVITY AFTER THOSE TRIPS

2004 = Florida gets nailed by 4, most storms ever in one year total
2005 = Pretty bad year, intense storms yet fewer in numbers
2006 = Got out of work a few days for Ernesto, which I dubbed the Hurricane that hid from the policia in the Cuban Foothills. Most storms barreled out to Bermuda that year.
2007 = ???

So will next year's fishing trip be Terrible...hope not
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446. weathermanwannabe
3:17 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Have a good afternoon and I will check in later this evening on 90E...
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445. HIEXPRESS
7:02 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
You trolled all day for that?
minnio
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
443. Hellsniper223
7:11 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Did surprise get.. Banned already?
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
442. stormpetrol
7:03 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Hi Kman, We're finally getting some much needed rain and looking at that mid to low level swirl just west of us we'll be getting more for a day or two, if it wasn't for the shear it might have potential, also something north of the Panama area again, might have a slightly better chance, as for the EPAC , I wonder when they are going to give that well defined spin a name I swear it looks like a strong TS to me.
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441. emagirl
7:04 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
well i dont know what may come with this hurricane season but i am praying for a quiet season but will be prepared for the worst
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440. MisterPerfect
7:04 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Maybe a pattern is forming...

Highly active hurricane season one year = bad drought the next few years (??) 'coood be..
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439. MisterPerfect
7:02 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Humans have the same effect on hurricanes today as they did hundreds & thousands of years ago...they just get in the way.
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437. ricderr
7:00 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
nothing in there about 2006...just that he feels MMGW is responsible for more hurricanes and stronger ones...try again
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436. nash28
6:58 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Why are we even discussing that inconvenient boob. Who cares?
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435. Littleninjagrl
6:55 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Just my opinion: Why do some weather people try to predict what it will be like from one season to the next? I mean yes, there are very good meteorologists and such that have a lot of knowledge. But even when there is a storm they always say "storms are very unpridictable" Mother Nature does as she pleases, I just sit back and wait. If i see things start to get pretty active then i know we'll be in for it. But that's not always the best either becuase you just never know.
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433. ricderr
6:55 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
tell me where al gore said anything about 2006 and the number of canes please
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432. nash28
6:53 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Like Al Gore has any relavence in anything whatsoever! LOL!
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429. nash28
6:51 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Anyone who puts any stock in what the media says regarding the tropics, well.... I'll just let you complete my thought.
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428. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
6:51 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
uh okay..
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427. HadesGodWyvern (Mod)
6:50 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
...
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426. ricderr
6:51 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
tell me one liberal pundit that was saying this please?
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425. emagirl
6:49 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I would be really suprised if we make it two seasons in a row without something entering the gulf
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422. nash28
6:48 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
No one knows how this season will eventually play out.
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421. ricderr
6:48 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
you're not a troll..nor are you a good speller
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420. Thunderstorm2
2:48 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
another troll should bite the dust.
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419. Littleninjagrl
6:47 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Well by the looks of things here in Tampa, unless something, anything stirrs up out there we are not going to get any rain anytime soon!! we really need it.
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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.