Bryan Norcross's Hurricane Almanac: a book review

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 1:19 PM GMT on May 24, 2007

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, 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:


-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:


-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 (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 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, 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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119. Tazmanian
9:40 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
well the SDD says there is but not the navy site yet
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118. RL3AO
4:38 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
theres 2 invests in the EPac?
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117. Tazmanian
9:30 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
the SDD say that this is 90E and 91E

90E Invest


91E Invest

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116. Tazmanian
8:59 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
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115. Tazmanian
8:57 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
i NO THAT ts2
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114. Thunderstorm2
4:55 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Taz, It just says INVEST not 90E.
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 130 Comments: 7608
113. Tazmanian
8:52 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
it says Invest at the top but not yet up on the navy site


her on the main page is where i say it

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112. Inyo
8:51 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
What about the 15 inches or so worth of rain and about 8 storms that was predicted to hit California this winter by the GFS, but failed to materialize? The long range GFS isn't very reliable, really.
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109. weathersp
4:36 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Wikipedia's Featured Article for today: Tornado!
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108. Inyo
8:06 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Um, eastern pacific storms are also an important factor in the Southwest Monsoon, which brings rain to a drought stricken area. Ultimately, drought has the potential to affect/destroy the lives of far more people than any hurricane, especially in that region. So, eastern pacific hurricanes are indeed very important. One dissipating tropical system in southern California, for instance, could mean the difference between a long, dry summer with a short rainy spell in August, and a long, drier summer with a few million additional acres burned in fires. Everything is connected, and if you only look at one thing, you are missing the big picture.
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107. Patrap
3:11 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
UW-CIMSS Advanced Microwave Sounding Unit (AMSU) Homepage..Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139971
105. weatherboykris
8:02 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
It just isn't the same for me, Mike.
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103. Patrap
2:58 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139971
102. weatherboykris
7:56 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
They usually can't's happened in the past a few times.It's very odd to consider the normal risk difference between North Florida(very low risk) and South Florida(very high risk) in a normal year.
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101. Patrap
2:54 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
The GFSx Shows a Possible system on June 3rd. Southern central-GOM. Link
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139971
100. sporteguy03
7:53 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Are the Hurricane Hunters still doing those test flights from the Cape Verde Islands?

I've been hearing that N.Florida is at stake to get hit this year? I thought storms can't hit there due to the angle of the coast.
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99. nash28
7:53 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Well said Pat.
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98. Patrap
2:46 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
Calamity dont read the blogs..nor do the storms. We are all just mere observers. To compare basins is crazy. Period. Whos scoring? When it comes to History..the true determiner of the past. WHo will remember any 05 Pacific storm?..or the ATlantic C storm from 05. They will remember the 1500 lost ,in the Basin.Period. To do any a Shame.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139971
97. nawlinsdude
7:50 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Hey anyone see the run with the 84hr low in the Carribean?
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96. Thunderstorm2
3:47 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Indian Ocean storms can pack a punch as well
Member Since: December 22, 2006 Posts: 130 Comments: 7608
94. weatherboykris
7:43 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
On the contrary nash....I really don't care about storms in other basins.The adrenaline just isn't there for me.
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93. nash28
7:41 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
We follow ALL storms. We don't just sit around and cherrypick only those that are destined to slam into FL, LA, MS, you get the point....
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92. weatherboykris
7:40 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Actually,something interesting about the EPAC is that it is the second most active basin;more interestingly,there is a 5 degree*5 degree box in the basin that produces more activity than any other similarly sized area in the world.
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91. Skyepony (Mod)
7:38 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
HURRICANE911~ Even if they don't effect anyone, though many times they have~ They form just the same as the rest so something is to be learned perhaps & often they play a big part in the overall pattern of weather down the road.
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90. Patrap
2:37 PM CDT on May 24, 2007
At ANY given time..their are 10-20,000 Merchant Seamean along those routes..Maritime interest are always concerned as to the East Pac weather..and ALL other areas where Canes and Typhoons occur. Just because their are no land masses in view, Dosent mean there arent Humans,or Human interests at risk.
Member Since: July 3, 2005 Posts: 449 Comments: 139971
88. weatherboykris
7:37 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
And BTW,great blog Dr. Masters.I loved the book.Had some info about the NHC advisory products that I was pretty surprised to learn.
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87. weatherboykris
7:35 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Adrian,will the IWIC forecast be out at midnight tonight?
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86. nash28
7:33 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
EPAC storms can and often do affect people. Storms that ride close to the west coast of CA can cause flooding, mudslides, etc... Let's not forget that there are people in Mexico.
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85. nash28
7:32 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Sorry STL. Misuse of vernacular.
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81. watchinwxnwpb
3:19 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Hi StormW! Thank you!! That made it clear!
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80. nash28
7:19 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
The shear in the area will need to drop for that to happen. If the shear level can drop to around 20kts, then a TD is certainly possible in a week or so. Right now, it ranges from 30-60kts, so it is still too hostile. The jet pattern is beginning to lift further to the north. It is that jet that has been causing the constant strong trade winds.
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79. hurricaneman23
7:15 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
any chance of development in the near future??
78. nash28
7:15 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
I see the 12z run for the CMC is still showing some development in the GOM.
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76. CrackerMI
7:04 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
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75. watchinwxnwpb
2:49 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Good Afternoon everyone!! Could someone please explain FLBoys post? It is in a foreign language to me. Thanks in advance! =)
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74. Chicklit
6:33 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
Funny you should mention children's fear of hurricanes and Hugo together. In September of 1989 my son was five. I recall he referred to Hugo long after it had passed as if it were a lurking monster. (Hugo was my first experience with hurricanes in Florida after moving here from Connecticut.)
It's probably doubly important for parents to keep their heads on straight during a hurricane in order to reassure frightened children. Preparation certainly makes all the difference.
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73. Tazmanian
6:40 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
wind shear in the Caribbean is 20 to 80kt but in the SW part of the
Caribbean wind shear si 5kt to 20kt off the NC coast wind shear is 5 to 20kt in the gulf wind shear has drop to aroud 50kt and in the Central Atlantic wind shear is any where from 5kt to 40kt


well i hop thats evere thing
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71. hurricane23
2:28 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Windshear is only 10-15kts around the area of thunderstorm activty in the pacific.Maybe some slow developement.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13868
70. Patchmedic
6:31 PM GMT on May 24, 2007
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69. hurricane23
2:26 PM EDT on May 24, 2007
Posted By: KYhomeboy at 2:23 PM EDT on May 24, 2007. (hide)
Whats going on in the Central Atlantic?

40-50kt shear.
Member Since: May 14, 2006 Posts: 8 Comments: 13868

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Dr. Masters co-founded wunderground in 1995. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters 1986-1990. Co-blogging with him: Bob Henson, @bhensonweather

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