AP file photo

Aug 28, 2015 12:18 PM

Joe Knows: Hurricane Katrina's influence on nation's storm forecasting


CONCORD - Major Improvements in Hurricane Forecasting in the past 10 years thanks to lessons learned from Katrina.

NOAA said yesterday: “Since the 2005 hurricane season, NOAA has launched 5 new satellites, deployed new coastal observing systems and made major breakthroughs in oceanic and atmospheric research, all of which has resulted in a remarkable 40% reduction in the margin of error of a hurricane’s expected track.”

Eric Blake, a hurricane specialist at the National Hurricane Center, called the stunning improvement in hurricane track forecast accuracy over the last decade “one of the most incredible success stories of our lifetimes.” Five-day forecasts today are just as accurate, on average, as three-day forecasts were the year of Katrina.

Even though forecasts have improved, how people prepare and react to these forecasts have not. It has been close to 9 years without a major landfalling hurricane on the US coastline.

People become complacent. They forget the damage these storms can do. Even a smaller storm like Sandy, Irene, Bob and Gloria have shown to have very devastating effects to coastal and inland communities.

The challenge remains to make the best forecasts, but also getting the community to act and be safe from these storms before they are caught in harms way...like so many still do.
Graphics below show the cone from Katrina vs what the cone would look like for Katrina in 2015.

A big improvement in track skill in 10 yrs.


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