Dr. Jeff Masters has an excellent post today outlining why the National Hurricane Center will "put out their best hurricane forecasts ever this season". In a nutshell:
- Dr. Rappaport, the acting director, is a highly respected and talented hurricane scientist
- the availability of a new hurricane tracking, intensity, and storm surge model called the HWRF--Hurricane Weather and Research Forecast Model.
- the reliable GFS and GFDL forecasting modelas have had upgrades since last hurricane season.
- Hurricane Hunters will be carrying SFMR instrument for the first time, which can measure winds speeds at the ocean surface everywhere the aircraft fly.
Closing the Gap - Reducing the Margin of Error:
Masters reports, The National Hurricane Center made their best track forecasts ever for storms in the Atlantic in 2006. Here are some stats for the analytical types:
- The mean track errors for 12 to 72 hour forecasts were 15% - 20% lower than during 2001-2005.
- Track errors for Atlantic storms have improved about 50% in the past 15 years (Figure 1) ---(This equates to saved lives and hundreds of millions of dollars).
- The track error in 2006 for a 24 hour forecast was 58 miles; 112 miles for a 48 hour forecast; and 171 miles for a 72 hour forecast. Track errors for 96 and 120 hour forecasts were 236 miles and 305 miles--the second best on record (2003 set the record).
- NHC's long-range 120 hour forecasts had a significant bias to the west of 94 miles--about double the bias of what the computer models were forecasting. Thus, when the models correctly called for systems to recurve out to sea, NHC human forecasters tended to resist following what the models were saying.
More stats and graphs at Dr. Masters Blog Post, here.