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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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
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367. hurricane23
13:14 EDT le 25 mai 2007
Good Afternoon...

I also doupt we will have back to back seasons without any significant landfalls.Having said that if the current pattern does not change and is present threw the meat of the season there will be alot of systems that wont stand a chance making it across and affecting the united states.Hopefully there outlook is correct and we will have a landfall free season.
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366. TheRingo
1:11 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
This SW Car. feature seems to be firing more convection now.

SWCar

12zNAM calling for 1004mb low.
365. weathers4me
5:09 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I agree totally. Nothing like a healthy civilized debate.
Member Since: May 24, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 118
364. StormJunkie
4:56 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: weathermanwannabe at 4:18 PM GMT on May 25, 2007.
Hey All....If my amatuer predicition for this season (JP's contest) comes even close, it would have been an uneducated lucky guess (last year's shear took even the pros by surprise).......What makes this area of science so interesting is the unpredictability of it all....


Well said wannabe. I told JP the same thing when I gave him my prediction ☺

Incognito-from a few hours ago
-I understand your points and I do appreciate detailed data analysis. Just get frustrated witht he mine is bigger then yours attitude that has seem to take over these seasonal forecasts, and sometimes even individual storm forecasts. Forecasting should really be more like a healthy debate as opposed to "this is what I am telling you will happen and I want my cookie if I am right"
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363. Srt4Man
5:04 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: GainesvilleGator at 4:36 PM GMT on May 25, 2007.

Will there be any private insurance companies in Florida if we have a couple of cat 3+ hurricanes hit the Pennisula? I can see a state managed insurance system in the state in the near future.


It already exists and its mandated that it is more expensive than private insurance companies so that the goverment ran insurance doesnt take away business from the big 3, all state, state farm, and..i forget the last one.

Either way its horrible, considering my house is worth only 175 thousand and i pay almost 8,000 dollars a year for my insurance.
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362. nash28
5:03 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Check out the 12z CMC.
Link
Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
361. HIEXPRESS
4:35 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Surf's up here in Florida!
Give me a break.
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
360. GainesvilleGator
4:27 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Will there be any private insurance companies in Florida if we have a couple of cat 3+ hurricanes hit the Pennisula? I can see a state managed insurance system in the state in the near future.

What about wood frame houses? We may go all block as well if we have a $20 billion storm hit. I think the code in FL should be that the house can withstand a cat 3 with little or no damage. I think you will hear Gov Crist talk about making the building standards much stronger.
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359. weathermanwannabe
12:09 PM EDT on May 25, 2007
Hey All....If my amatuer predicition for this season (JP's contest) comes even close, it would have been an uneducated lucky guess (last year's shear took even the pros by surprise).......What makes this area of science so interesting is the unpredictability of it all....
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357. nash28
4:00 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
CCHS- My thoughts are "get back to me in about five days." Not directed at you, rather the GFS. They are not very reliable this early in the season. They have been showing Low after Low for the past few weeks moving through the Carribean/GOM into south florida. Not one of those has come to fruition.

Member Since: July 11, 2005 Posts: 190 Comments: 16972
356. Skyepony (Mod)
3:53 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
25/1200 UTC 11.7N 109.3W T1.5/1.5 90E -- East Pacific Ocean
25/0600 UTC 12.6N 108.2W T1.0/1.0 90E -- East Pacific Ocean
25/0000 UTC 12.1N 108.3W T1.0/1.0 90E -- East Pacific Ocean
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355. Fl30258713
3:58 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Did ya'll see this?

http://www.nrlmry.navy.mil/tc_pages/tc_home.html

90E.INVEST 91E
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354. Chicklit
3:59 PM GMT on May 25, 2007

Surf's up here in Florida!
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353. HIEXPRESS
3:54 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Its a good way to become a quick statistic. Thanks, I needed that.
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
352. cchsweatherman
3:44 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Holy crap! I just saw the Wunderground GFS model run and in about 7 to 10 days, it lights up like a freakin' Christmas tree! Almost looks like a hurricane hitting South Florida! I know I can't take this to be what really will happen, but the GFS has been consistent on the development of a low coming out of the Carib and pushing into the South Florida area early June. Your thoughts?
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
351. MisterPerfect
3:52 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
You will never be able to put a leash on the idiots that body surf approaching storm waves. Its a good way to become a quick statistic.
Member Since: November 1, 2006 Posts: 71 Comments: 20139
350. IKE
3:51 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: IKE at 10:38 AM CDT on May 25, 2007.

Wrong...it was posted at 10:48 CDT.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
349. IKE
3:38 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I guessed 18....basing it entirely on what I've read from the "experts"...who predicted an above average season last year and last year was a dud...
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
348. HIEXPRESS
3:47 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
"it's fun to guess" There's that, and also the guilty pleasure of body surfing the near misses. (Don't try this at home, kids). From David to Floyd, up close & personal. Now they close the ocean - I could go but I don't because It puts the guards in harms way.
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
347. IKE
3:46 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Main blog page is having issues....last comment..."364 second ago|-" Minus?
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346. IKE
3:45 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
You can read a thousand different forecasts for the hurricane season. No one knows for sure. Best to keep 2 eyes out and hope none hit anyone.
Member Since: June 9, 2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
344. LouisC
3:37 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
The New Orleans office is not above some wishful thinking for the beginning of hurricane season. The 353 AM May 25 long-term forecast discussion:

.LONG TERM...
SOME STRONG CHANGES ARE NOTICED IN THE EXTENDED RUN OF THE NORTH
AMERICAN MODEL SUITES. THE GFS IS THE MOST AGRESSIVE AT BRINGING A
STRONG CANADIAN STYLE COLD FRONT DOWN ONCE AGAIN BY JUNE 2-3RD.
SINCE THIS TIME FRAME WILL BE JUNE AND CLIMATALOGICALLY THIS
DOESN`T NORMALLY OCCUR...CAN NOT GO WITH THIS SCENARIO ATTM. THIS
IS THE FIRST MODEL CYCLE TO SHOW THIS AND I CANT SAY ITS NOT
GOING TO HAPPEN BUT IT IS GETTING THE POINT IN THE SEASON THAT IT
IS EXTREMELY RARE. THAT SAID...I HOPE THIS CONTINUES TO SHOW IN
SUCCESSIVE MODEL RUNS. THE MORE COLD FRONTS PASS IT ADDS A FEW
MORE DAYS OF SUMMER THAT NO INCLIMATE TROPICAL WEATHER WILL AFFECT
US.

IF CANADIAN COLD FRONTS MOVING THROUGH THE DEEP SOUTH DURING THE
SUMMER ARE A PRODUCT OF GLOBAL WARMING...IM NOT COMPLAINING.

343. Inyo
3:37 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
If that silly forecast is right and no storms hit the US mainland, does that mean the E-PAC system will be stronger?

what if a storm hits the US mainland from the west?

(even less likely than usual this year due to water temperature)
Member Since: September 3, 2002 Posts: 42 Comments: 873
342. Chicklit
3:31 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
being from "hurricane alley" myself, I am always annoyed with people that get excited about a hurricane forming, almost blood thirsty for it to strike land for some sort of entertainment value...
We just observe weather events; obviously, we can't control their intensity or where they will go. When conditions are right, storms fire up. What happens then becomes a product of their existence...
I grew up along the water, so every variation was before me on a dramatic level: Clouds change its color; Winds change its texture. Weather even changes the smell of the air.
No one wants anything bad to happen to anyone or their property. We are simply here on the planet, watching, feeling and thinking about what's happening.
In the meantime, it's fun to guess; obviously, the closer we get to ideal conditions, the better we can predict events.
Member Since: July 11, 2006 Posts: 14 Comments: 11351
341. Jedkins
3:24 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
by the way, because June is soon apon us, there is a high likely hood of the pattern turning much wetter into a summer wet season pattern by next week, models are indicating this, although there are outliers showing the high building back in but those models should be thrown in the trash for now, its one thing to be dry in the dry season, but over the past 2 years, we have had unusually dry, dry seasons, the wet season has been very wet though, which saves us for the second half of the year.

Can't be sure on this, but the best solutions appears to be wetter one :), lets pray it pans out, Ive been longing for this to start, lol.
340. whirlwind
3:15 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
This year is really hyped up!!!! Cant wait till this shear gets outta here, and the storms start rolling.

Everyone's assuming what the season might have. If you assume, you make an ass outta u and me.

count down: 7 days....
339. JeffM
2:59 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I'm gonna say the drought in S. Texas has officially ended! We are getting hammered with rain.
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338. cajunkid
2:56 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Link they don't all go west LOL
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337. MisterPerfect
2:53 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I agree with you guys to a point. Because of the severity of hurricanes and the like, it is neccessary to study past tracks and conditions in hope to nail down similar patterns to aid in prediction and overall, protect the populace. It is a science; so is Jai-alai gambling. YET, being from "hurricane alley" myself, I am always annoyed with people that get excited about a hurricane forming, almost blood thirsty for it to strike land for some sort of entertainment value. The same people get overwrought, even angry if a storm curves out to sea instead of making landfall. Somehow, I relate storm prediction to this breed of person. Most of whom have only experienced a hurricane through the pixels of their televisions. Down with 'wishcasters', join the ranks of the 'spurncasters'.
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336. ricderr
2:49 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
GS...you're right....and don't forget.....tampa's gonna get hit......
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334. weathers4me
2:49 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Morning all. I've been reading the blogs here for a few months now and enjoy some of the informed and educated material. It's nice to know there are people out there who share my interest in weather, especially tropical weather. I live on the west/central coast of FL near Bradenton and attended Dr. Master's lecture at Eckerd college in April. I can tell you that he really does know what he is talking about when it comes to the weather. Looks like the switch is getting ready to flip on after this weekend. By mid week, we should be getting back to a more summer time pattern of afternoon storms. This high sitting over us has made things too dry for my taste. Should be another interesting hurricane season also. Oh, and by the way I read the Independent weather review last night and agree that there was a lot of time and research put in that report and it is very detailed. For that my kudos, but it should only be used as just another tool as Dr. Masters stated earlier in the week when he was referring to the models as tools in aiding us at getting possible educated scenarios based on science. I'm a person of science and research but to make strike predictions based on steering patterns that can change week to week and often do and to make bold statements based on hunches is not a wise thing to do. I feel the information should have been kept under wraps and presented later once there have been a proven track record of reasonable and quantifiable accuracy. Then and only then should it be made available. I feel that the folks who made the report may be setting themselves up for failure. They echoed this in their monologue stating that some of last years predictions were way off base. Hopefully I'm wrong but based on history NHC and Bastardi seem to have a better forecast. Something I remember that sticks in my head since I was a kid. Imaging a feather floating on the surface of the ocean. Now tell me where that feather will be in 3 days from now. If I read this report correctly then they should be able to tell me where the feather will be in 2-4 months. I'm sorry but that is not good science. Take care gotta go now. Start my rain dance...
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333. cajunkid
2:49 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Yucatan basin buoy Link
doesn't look like much is happening
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331. ricderr
2:47 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
here's ricderrs prediction and you can take this one to the bank....there will be an avalanche more talk about storms than there will be storms.....there will be more time invested in potential systems than the duration of actual systems....there will be more "eyes" seen than actual eyes...and there will be more "it's gonna be a cat 5" shouted than polydactyl cats
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330. kmanislander
2:43 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: leftovers at 2:38 PM GMT on May 25, 2007.

When I was a kid about 45 yrs ago there was a famous female pychic who made predictions on the upcoming hurricane seasons. My dad always looked forward to it. Do any of you remember her? Interesting feature east of the yucatan maybe it will eventually help Fl with some rain.


The NAM develops a low in that general area over the next day or two as well as a low over the Cayman Islands by the 28th
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328. Hellsniper223
2:38 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
After the 2005 season, everyone (independents like us) and their grandparents were making the prediction that the 2006 hurricane season was going to be a 16-22 storm season. We were all wrong.

Now, as history has told us, the season prior to the one the Independents are forecasting is going to have a large influence on the number of storms they forecast. Unfortunately I don't have any 2006 predictions to use as examples. But I'm sure y'all all remember them and how crazy they were.

Any who I've got one here for 2007 that seems to make my point:

Stormchaser77's Pre Season Storm Predictionís:

1- Less Storms Than Everyone Is Predicting.
2- No Storms Affecting North Florida.
3- No Storms Affecting the Gulf Coast.
4- Less Than 10 Named Storms Total.

I really can't find any basis for this forecast except that 2006 was an average year.

It seems the "Aftertaste" of the prior season lingers just long enough to affect those who forecast.

Now here are my worthless 2 cents.

----Hellsniper's prediction 2007:

15-16 Named
6-8 Hurricanes
3-5 Major

(Possible landfalls)

Landfalls along the gulf:
(Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Extreme western FL Panhandle.)
Landfalls along the Fl peninsula, from Cedar Key southward.
Landfalls along the Georgia and Carolina coastlines.
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327. nash28
2:39 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
As I said earlier, I just laugh at anyone willing to make such a profound statement like that. I also know that the majority of people who live in hurricane alley are not naive enough to scrap hurricane preparedness plans based upon someones opinion, which is really all it is.... opinion.
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326. ricderr
2:39 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
jean dixon i believe did those
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325. cajunkid
2:39 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
STORMTOP did it last year
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323. cchsweatherman
2:38 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Anybody have a link to a radar out of the Bahamas? After the past few weeks of having this stationary weather pattern, there must be some good flooding going on over there.
Member Since: April 14, 2007 Posts: 8 Comments: 5169
322. ricderr
2:38 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
no one in their right mind, who wants to maintain credibility, would make a statement like

funny..if they had made that statement last year...they'd be heroes....
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 674 Comments: 21758
321. cajunkid
2:35 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
Taz is right...Rob Mann and Jason Moreland have lost thier mind...(if I read them correctly)...no one in their right mind, who wants to maintain credibility, would make a statement like
No tropical cyclone landfalls are expected along the United States mainland.


At least not as early as May 25th
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320. kmanislander
2:34 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
good morning all

The NW Caribbean has been seeing a lot of rain over the last 24 hrs and today looks to be no different. Of local interest is that surface pressures have been relatively low In Grand Cayman from yesterday and when I left home this morning stood at 1012.6 mb




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319. weatherguy03
2:32 PM GMT on May 25, 2007
I just dont like using the word "not legit". Of course I know long range forecasts are not accurate. But anyway, just my opinion.
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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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