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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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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418. airman45
6:38 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I'm gonna say the drought in S. Texas has officially ended! We are getting hammered with rain.

After tomorrow our rain should finally end. We will finally get sun, although still too cool for this time of year. Had way too much rain lately, today included. Funny how things are happening opposite from you all.
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416. nash28
6:44 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Back to our regularly scheduled forecasting...
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
414. IKE
1:43 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
He acts like he knows a lot....bye SS...
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410. nash28
6:41 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Well, it should be no surprise to see "Surpirse" get booted.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
409. IKE
1:40 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: SupriseSex at 1:39 PM CDT on May 25, 2007.
MichaelSTL...if you're scarred of the ultra-cane take comfort in the fact that it won't attack douchebags


You've been around before w/a different SN haven't you?
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408. Tazmanian
6:40 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
spam that troll SupriseSex
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114956
407. MisterPerfect
6:40 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Troll is misspelling on purpose..must be 'one of us'
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20137
406. MisterPerfect
6:36 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
something that can destroys whole nations.

You don't need an "ultra" hurricane for that. Most island nations that are prone to hurricanes are small by land v.s. ocean standards. Thankfully with today's technology we can warn residents in danger areas and evacuate them safely before harm hits.
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20137
404. nash28
6:37 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Did I just enter the Twilight Zone?
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
401. weathermanwannabe
2:35 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Someone just got a minus....
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400. Tazmanian
6:34 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
not march dust her this may be good news for the U.S this year no dust vary moist are may help to keep the hurricane a way from the U.S this year or may be not

lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114956
399. hurricane23
2:34 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: SupriseSex at 2:32 PM EDT on May 25, 2007. (hide)
I heard that when a hurricane moves into open waters it gains power. I heard it can morph into a Ultra-cane...something that can destroys whole nations.

You OK??
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13740
398. Tazmanian
6:31 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
no dry air her it been vary moist her all winter long
lol
Member Since: May 21, 2006 Posts: 5091 Comments: 114956
396. nash28
6:27 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Southern Mexico basically. It is moving out into the open waters though.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
395. Thunderstorm2
2:26 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
11.7N 109.3W
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393. Littleninjagrl
6:25 PM GMT on May 25, 2007

What area is this 90 close to right now?
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391. weathermanwannabe
2:18 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
I wasn't following 90E until RL's comment 30 minutes ago, but, that is quite a rapid spin-up for this system...........
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388. RL3AO
6:15 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
If it holds together, I think the NHC will intiate advisories at 5 PT.
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387. cchsweatherman
6:12 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
90E looks like a strong TS in my opinion. Looks really strong and appears to have a defined COC that could be developing into an eye?! Wild Guess: It will be named by tomorrow A.M.
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386. weathermanwannabe
2:10 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
How about a 50/50 chance of storm in the next 12 for 90E?
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385. RL3AO
6:08 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
25 kts, appears to be a closed low. Sounds like a TD to me.
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383. weathermanwannabe
2:01 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
90E is looking VERY good right now.....
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382. TheRingo
2:02 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Shear has been dropping across the board. Seems likely as we shift into June it will head lower.

Gulf
WCarb
ECarb
Atl
381. nash28
6:01 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
It is being sheared. If that shear were to drop 20kts or so, it would have a chance.
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
380. IKE
12:58 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
...
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379. IKE
12:56 PM CDT on May 25, 2007
I noticed that 1004mb low in the western Caribbean on the 12 UTC NAM run...but it's such an unreliable model. Time will tell.

There are a lot of clouds in the western Caribbean. I notice the low spinning east of the Yucatan...and it does look sheared.
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378. kmanislander
5:51 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
H23

The NAM is showing a low E of the Yucatan in 24 hrs and another over the Caymans on the 28th
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377. hurricane23
1:50 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Not really buying anything the GFS is calling for as the new model as of the 1st has complications on genesis.Also when looking at models at 160-240hrs the skill level drops off but when you see a majority of the models around 24-90 hours showing development then i think you could take it more seriously.Adrian
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13740
376. RL3AO
5:50 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
90E is looking pretty good. It has a 50/50 chance, if not greater of becoming TD-1E within 24 hours.
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375. CycleForecasting
1:45 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
GainesvilleGator, I see you are worried about the insurance in Florida if a Hurricane hits again. Well this will be a bad year for the west coast ( see link http://globalweatheroscillations.com/Hurricanes.html)
I also live in Florida and prepared this forecast, and I am having trouble getting insurance.
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374. kmanislander
5:47 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
But maybe this feature is what the NAM is indicating
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373. floridafisherman
5:33 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
good post dr masters! i have owned norcross's first book (hurricane almanac 2006) for almost a year and its a great source of information.

in this book he also talks about his experience with andrew and the ineffectiveness of fema with katrina. it has great maps of historical hurricanes.

i did not like that fact that he really didnt go over the 2004 season when it at the time it set the mark for the busy 2005 season. charlie, although listed in his most expensive list, didnt even crack his report of "notable hurricanes".

charlie was one of the first storm in the 2004 season to undergo a rapid deepening- extremely strong phase. it went from a cat 2 storm to a strong cat 4 in 3 hours! its slight deviation to the east at the last minute also changed the predited landfall area dramaticly. i surely thought charlie would be mentioned.

i also thought that ivan , which nearly wiped out grenada, would be mentioned. it wasnt. but other than that, i was very happy with his book. looking forward to Dr masters response to norcross's "how id do it better" chapter.
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372. kmanislander
5:46 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
agreed, hence my last sentence LOL
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371. hurricane23
1:42 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Not much chance with about 30-50kt windshear around it.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13740
370. kmanislander
5:37 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
There definitely seems to be a low spinning just east of the Yucatan but the tops of the storms are being sheared off as quickly as they form. If the shear relaxes in this area we could see some development IMO

Link
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369. hurricane23
1:28 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: HURRICANE911 at 1:21 PM EDT on May 25, 2007. (hide)
Trust me 23 that is wishful thinking. People don't let your gard down.

Wishful thinking actually nothing would make me happier if we enjoyed another quite season but if you live in a hurricane prone area you should always prepare no matter what the predictions call for every year.Keep in mind the parameters that are expected to shape the season are still transitioning and sts andrea should in no way, shape, or form dictate how the 2007 season will playout and as we hit mid june to the begining of july we should really have a good idea how things will shape up.Adrian
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13740

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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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