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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268. crownwx
6:52 AM EDT on May 25, 2007
The IWIC Yucatan Peninsula major strike zone has me perplexed for this reason: It is hard to say that the continental US will not be hit by a tropical cyclone but the Yucatan Peninsula will. My reason is that normally hurricanes that are moving across the Yucatan Peninsula are moving west-northwest and you would get a track like Allen (1980) or Gilbert (1988) and thus if the storm took this type of track the US is technically affected by a storm.

My other issue is with the "analog" years mentioned: 1995 and 1998. 1995 featured Erin and Opal affecting the US coastline. 1998 featured Bonnie, Earl, and Georges all affecting the US coast. It should be noted that the 1998 Hurricane season was a season we were coming out of a El Nino.

I'm just NOT convinced that the US will NOT be affected by a hurricane this season. I could be wrong, but I'm not about to bet my savings on it.
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266. MahFL
6:41 AM EDT on May 25, 2007
Pure crap seems about right. If the NHC can't get it correct each year then its just guess work, who knows what will happen, no one does...
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265. G35Wayne
10:35 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
I also believe this will be another dud of a hurricane season.
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264. HurricaneMyles
9:44 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
stormchaser...Getting a lil worked up are we? Just because they're saying S. FL has a decreased risk doesn't mean they're saying that they're completely out of the woods. They historically have about 20-25% chance of being hit any givin year. All that's been said is that they feel that percentage is lower this year. They're not saying the chance is nil, just lower then thier histroically high average.

On the other hand, that Independent Wx does seem like pure crap. No US landfalling storms? Crazy.
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263. ricderr
9:42 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
oh fl....tell me....why dangerous?.....what evil do you see?
Member Since: June 27, 2006 Posts: 670 Comments: 21391
261. KoritheMan
9:23 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Stormchaser77's Pre Season Storm Prediction's :

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.

Of Those NONE Affecting The Continental
US. If The Troughs Dont Get Them The
Weather Modification Programs Will.

2007 Will Go Quietly Into The Books Leaving
all The So Called Experts Dumbfounded.

It is My Personal Belief That The 2005 Season
Marked The End Of The Active Cycle With a Bang.

Does Anyone Agree? Reguardless My Projection
Is Less absurd Than Saying South Florida has a
Decreased Risk. That To Me is Not Just Stupid
But Historically Inaccurate. Dangerous Too.


Good luck with that one. It's a 99.9% chance that won't come true (no offense), since even 1914, the least active season on record, had a landfall, and almost a hurricane. 1990 was the only year since 1900 that no tropical storms made landfall in the U.S., and even then, Marco made landfall as a depression.

I hope you aren't someone who thinks words can change the outcome of hurricane season...
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260. bluehaze27
8:35 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Hello all, is it too early to jumpstart the westcoast jam yet? I've been lurking;) That's one hell of a swag (scientific wild ass guess)for a Florida 'cane strike. I believe I heard Max Mayfield say that he expects 3 storms to affect the U.S. this year. Will there be dying fronts that make it into the gulf early and late in the season spinning off storms and where will the bermuda high be in late August early September? On average South Florida gets hit with a cat 3 hurricane every nine years according to climatology. As mentioned before, we've gone 15 years without a real storm like Andrew. Do yourself a favor and with all the other hurricane preparation you do make sure you take care of you heir looms and photos that are not replaceable. These were some of the biggest losses during hurricane Andrew.
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259. PensacolaDoug
7:41 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Seems like a reasonable forecast to me.
Had u made that same forecast at this time last year, u would have been scoffed at but in the end would have been entirely right. Go figure....
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257. TheCaneWhisperer
7:21 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Thier forcast would be devastating to Florida! Let's hope that Doesn't happen 23! Damed if you do, Damed if you don't!
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256. benirica
7:07 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
i hope most of the people here mad at the prediction is because they think people will not get ready for the season after reading that... i hope its not that you are mad that you wont get a storm this year. i hope they are right and that the only wrong thing is that PR wont get those 1-2 landfalls they call for.
as much as i am impressed and admire weather and these storms, i fear them much more and understand what it does to peoples lives.
that said, i hope people dont take it easy, because its better to be safe then sorry. predictions arent accurate.
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255. LowerCal
12:08 AM PDT on May 25, 2007
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254. hurricane23
3:05 AM EDT on May 25, 2007
But i think the odds in my opinion favor a tropical system making landfall somewere along a us coastline.Having back to back season without any significant landfalls is going to be hard.For all our sake lets hope they are correct but the outlook seems reasonble given those atmospheric conditions and steering patterns are present this year.

Good night guys.Adrian
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252. TheCaneWhisperer
6:51 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
We'll see 23, I knew you would stay up, lol! I was rather amazed at the forcast! The trough, man they went out on a limb! It looks to be breaking up! . All due respect, as always!
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250. Inyo
6:43 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Posted By: Baybuddy at 1:03 AM GMT on May 25, 2007.
..blablablablablablablablaba...The entire damn state/city infastructure during Katrina was Democrat...blablablablablablablaba..QUIT BRINGING POLITICS INTO NATURAL DISASTERS.



hahahahaha
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249. hurricane23
2:41 AM EDT on May 25, 2007

Data obtained throughout the past several months indicates that 2007 Atlantic Basin hurricane activity will be somewhat above the long-term average, with an estimated 13 named storms, 8 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes. An abnormally high number of tropical cyclones will form east of the Lesser Antilles during the bimonthly period of August and September, with at least one significant hurricane striking the northeast Caribbean. The Yucatán Peninsula also faces a high risk of a major hurricane strike during the final third of the season. No tropical cyclone landfalls are expected along the United States mainland.

More here

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248. Hellsniper223
6:17 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Sheesh... By that W. FL prediction you'd think that the panhandle doesn't exist.
Member Since: March 28, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 16
247. TheCaneWhisperer
6:06 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
And another thing! Trough remains in the C-ATL, High Pressure Remains on the East Coast! Florida, mmmmm, not good!
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246. LowerCal
11:02 PM PDT on May 24, 2007
TWOEP
TROPICAL WEATHER OUTLOOK
NWS TPC/NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER MIAMI FL
1000 PM PDT THU MAY 24 2007

FOR THE EASTERN NORTH PACIFIC...EAST OF 140 DEGREES WEST LONGITUDE..

A NEARLY-STATIONARY AREA OF LOW PRESSURE IS LOCATED ABOUT 525 MILES
SOUTH-SOUTHWEST OF MANZANILLO MEXICO. THIS SYSTEM HAS BECOME A
LITTLE BETTER ORGANIZED THIS EVENING AND CONTINUED SLOW DEVELOPMENT
IS POSSIBLE DURING THE NEXT DAY OR TWO AS THE SYSTEM MOVES SLOWLY.

ELSEWHERE...TROPICAL CYCLONE FORMATION IS NOT EXPECTED DURING THE
NEXT 48 HOURS.

$$
FORECASTER BROWN

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245. TheCaneWhisperer
5:41 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Another thing I did not see mentioned in the forcast was the SAL impact! It seemed to play a big part in 2005!
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244. TheCaneWhisperer
5:30 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
I can tell you, that is not what I will have forcast in my blog, much different! I hope they are right, we could use the break! Dr. Masters illuded to this in his blog the other day! Independant took it through the whole season, I applaud Dr. Masters caution. Hanging your hat on a trough is a 50/50 chance especially at this point in the game!
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243. HIEXPRESS
5:15 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
IWIC - Rectal/Cranial Inversion


Herbert's Box

Right. & if it is slower than 13mph forward speed, it curves N then NE, & if Faster, It goes W. 13 unlucky for FL. Just from memory, I'll check or an example. Sleepblogging. G'night.
Member Since: October 13, 2005 Posts: 4 Comments: 2156
242. noshoes
5:19 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Will Dr. Masters comment on the IWXC on Friday morning?
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241. TheRingo
1:10 AM EDT on May 25, 2007
Although they do agree with the formation of La Nina.
"It should be noted that CLIPER and GMAOGCM, two of the more reliable ENSO models that correctly predicted the onset of the 2006 El Niño, are predicting cool ENSO conditions by the peak of the hurricane season."

They are totally going against the average track for La Nina events.
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240. Jedkins
4:58 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
independent weather needs to drop their pride and see how rediculous they are for forecasting something like that, ignorant people might believe a bias like that and forget about hurricanes, thats just terrible.

that would be the same as forecasting a category 5 to make a direct hit as a category 5 on a major coastal city along the gulf coast, which would be obsurd to do so. Just as it is to forecast no U.S. landfalls.
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238. TheRingo
12:52 AM EDT on May 25, 2007
That report is irresponsible. They're hanging all their hopes on a weakness in the ridging. They even mentioned in the beginning their skill level was low in previous years.
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237. sporteguy03
4:48 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Can you imagine though if the NHC said no U.S. Landfalls? Talk about being Bold I think Independent Weather is being bold and you have to respect their research but I doubt NOAA or NHC could say that.
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236. sporteguy03
4:46 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Trough or not what about a storm forming off the East Coast off a front and being pushed West
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235. TheCaneWhisperer
4:47 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
I tell ya what though! If it does break down, thier forcast is a bust for sure!
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234. TheRingo
12:40 AM EDT on May 25, 2007
0z NAM still persistent in developing that low in west caribbean.

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233. TheCaneWhisperer
4:44 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Im not saying it is for sure, it is models I am looking at!
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232. TheCaneWhisperer
4:43 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
But ya know! Im a Cabinet Man, What Do I Know?
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230. TheCaneWhisperer
4:42 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Herbert's Box
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229. TheCaneWhisperer
4:41 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
I have been researching my page and haven't come up with that many negatives! Everything I am looking at is breaking this C-Atl trough in 2 weeks!
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228. benirica
4:38 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
yeah, i forgot the name but yeah theres a box that has a name and if it goes in there it usually goes into the Florida area ... pretty much a Georges 1998 track.
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226. TheCaneWhisperer
4:39 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
They seem to be putting alot of stock in the C-Atl Trough! Seems to be breaking up this evening, IMO!
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225. sporteguy03
4:38 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
I agree JP I find that very hard to believe and in fact don't believe it will happen.
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224. TheCaneWhisperer
4:38 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Everyone Else----------------------->Independant weather? 0 landfalls?
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223. sporteguy03
4:36 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
Isn't there an area that a storm passes near Puerto Rico that it almost with certainty hits the U.S. Mainland?
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221. benirica
4:17 AM GMT on May 25, 2007
if this is accurate im a bit scared now... 1-2 significant landfalls this year for Puerto Rico...
damn economy, as everywhere else in the world today, isnt doing too well and itll be pretty hard to get up after two majors.
i hope were ready for it.
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219. Patrap
11:04 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
...Close and lock your visor Kris..and initiate O2 flow..
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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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