NHC increases hurricane forecast lead times

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 5. tammikuuta 2010 klo 19:27 (GMT)

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The National Hurricane Center (NHC) announced today that beginning with the 2010 hurricane season, their hurricane and tropical storm watches and warnings for the U.S. coast will be extended in time by an additional 12 hours. Warnings will now be issued 36 hours in advance instead of 24 hours, and watches will be issued 48 hours in advance, instead of 36 hours. The increase in lead time for watches and warnings has been made possible by the tremendous improvement in hurricane track forecasts, which have improved by over 50% in the past twenty years (Figure 1). "With increases in population and infrastructure along vulnerable U.S. coastlines, emergency managers need more lead time in order to make life-saving decisions regarding evacuations", said Bill Read, director of NOAA's National Hurricane Center, in today's press release.


Figure 1. Average track errors for NHC Atlantic tropical storm and hurricane forecasts issued between 1990 - 2008. Track errors have improved by over 50% in the past 20 years. Image credit: National Hurricane Center.

Commentary
NHC has been debating for a number of years how best to "invest" the gains accrued from the steady improvement in hurricane track forecasts. One obvious savings from these better hurricane forecasts has come from the reduced evacuation costs. When a hurricane warning is issued 24 hours before the expected arrival of hurricane-force winds at the coast, it costs approximately $1 million to evacuate each mile of U.S. coast warned (Aberson et al., 2006). This number will be higher for more densely populated areas of the coast, such as Miami, and may be a factor of six lower for the North Carolina coast (Whitehead, 2003). According to a 2007 presentation at the 61st Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference, the length of coast warned decreased significantly in the past decade. During the decade of the 1990s, the average length of a hurricane warning was 455 miles, but that fell to just 335 miles between 2000 - 2006. Thus, an average of 120 fewer miles of coast were warned, at an average savings of $120 million per hurricane warning issuance. During this period, 17 storms requiring 25 hurricane warnings occurred. If the costs of coastal evacuations are indeed $1 million per mile, the improved hurricane forecasts between 2000 - 2006 resulted in savings of $3 billion compared to what the forecasts of the 1990s would have cost.

However, the new increased lead times for hurricane watches and warnings will lead to an increase in the length of coast warned, due to the higher uncertainties in hurricane tracks at longer forecast lead times. Between 2004 - 2008, approximately 25% of the coast that was placed under a hurricane warning actually received hurricane force winds; this percentage was 20% for areas placed under a hurricane watch. These percentages will decline with the new increased watch and warning lead times, costing money in unnecessary evacuations, and leading to increased complacency in the warned population due to too much "crying wolf".

Balanced against these increased costs is the potential disastrous loss of life should a hurricane hit an unprepared, heavily populated shoreline. With the U.S. population continuing to increase rapidly in coastal regions, the time needed to evacuate vulnerable populated regions is increasing. For example, evacuation times for the major urban areas of Texas are 28 - 34 hours for a major hurricane. Though the costs of overwarning the coast is significant, the savings in both human lives and dollars from increased warning times should outweigh these costs. In the 2002 book, Hurricane: Coping With Disaster, Dr. Hugh Willoughby, former director of the Hurricane Research Division of NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Marine Laboratory, analyzed hurricane death statistics. In 1950, about 70 U.S. residents died per year in hurricanes. In the 50 years since, the coastal population expanded by a factor of 3.2, so if we were managing the hurricane problem the way we did in 1950, we would be losing about 220 people a year. The long-term average is still about twenty per year, not including the deaths due to the levee failures during Katrina. That means we're preventing about 200 deaths per year compared with 1950. How much are these saved lives worth? A life, is, of course, priceless, but in the cold world of economics, the value of life-saving scientific research and government regulations is estimated using statistics of what people are willing to pay to avoid certain risks, and what extra money employers pay their workers to take on additional risks. This data comes primarily from payroll statistics, but opinion surveys also play a role. In 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) valued an American life at $8 million. EPA cut the value of a life by 8% that year, and a further 3% in May 2008, making the economic value of a life $6.9 million in today's dollars. The Department of Transportation gives a lower figure of a life as being worth $5.8 million. Using this number implies a savings of about $1.2 billion per year for the 200 lives saved per year by better hurricane warnings and evacuations. Today's decision by NHC to increase warning times should continue this trend of saving lives, which will also provide considerable monetary benefit. Despite the increased costs and dangers of "crying wolf" too often due to overwarning the coast, I believe that the double value of saving lives--for both the intrinsic and monetary value of a human life--makes NHC's move of increasing warning and watch times the right call.

References
Whitehead, J.C., 2003: "One million dollars per mile? The opportunity costs of Hurricane evacuation", Ocean and Coastal Management 46, 1069.

I'll have a new post on Thursday or Friday.

Jeff Masters

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1388. nrtiwlnvragn
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 16:03 (GMT)
New Blog
Member Since: 23.09.2005 Posts: 13 Comments: 10466
1387. kmanislander
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:47 (GMT)
Quoting IKE:


Man...talk about rubbing salt into a wound.

Happy New Year KMAN!


Hi Ike,

Good to see you. If you think it's bad where you are check out London where my son is in University. They are not used to anything much below 35 in winter and England is pretty much paralyzed by several feet of snow. Another Eurostar train broke down this morning in the channel tunnel and had to be rescued.

The jet stream has dipped far South allowing arctic air to penetrate regions that would not normally get it spanning large stretches of the globe. Other areas have temps above normal as the jet looks like a roller coaster in places which creates both anomalous cold and warm temps.

El Nino continues to hang tough so relief not on the horizon yet.
Member Since: 19.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
1386. tornadodude
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:38 (GMT)
good morning all, here is the snow in my backyard

Member Since: 28.06.2006 Posts: 24 Comments: 8185
1385. TampaSpin
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:37 (GMT)
I still can't help but believing that North Florida will not get a blanket of Snow....this WaterVapor just seems to show it coming...

Member Since: 2.09.2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
1384. kmanislander
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:35 (GMT)
Quoting BahaHurican:
Hey! Happy New Year to you too. I was wondering how u guys were coping with the chill. Amazing to see under 70 deg. in the Caymans, and forecasts for the 40s for Cuba and Hispaniola tomorrow night!


This is the "coldest" it has been here this time of year for many years. The overnight lows have been in the mid 60's.

It will be interesting to see how low it goes tonight especially as we are only 19 degrees N of the equator.
Member Since: 19.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
1383. Patrap
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:33 (GMT)
Gulf Of Mexico - AVN Color Infrared Loop
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
1382. presslord
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:32 (GMT)
...would be a chilly trip, though...
Member Since: 13.08.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
1381. presslord
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:31 (GMT)
I can be in Nassau in 3 days on the boat...Caymans a bit longer...probably worth the trip...
Member Since: 13.08.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
1380. Patrap
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:31 (GMT)
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
1379. BahaHurican
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:29 (GMT)
Quoting presslord:
Currently Nassau is listed at 64 degrees

...you make me sick...
LOL... We welcome visitors in Nassau....

That 64 is making ME sick.... here I am with multiple layers on and my throat is itching.....
Member Since: 25.10.2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20733
1378. IKE
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:29 (GMT)
Quoting kmanislander:
Happy New Year all

I just stopped by to see how you all are coping with the deep freeze up North ?

Even down here it is "cold" by our standards. 69F this morning at 7 am and the pool is 71. BRRRR !


Man...talk about rubbing salt into a wound.

Happy New Year KMAN!
Member Since: 9.06.2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1377. presslord
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:27 (GMT)
...anyone with a temp beginning with "5" or higher makes me sick...
Member Since: 13.08.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
1376. TampaSpin
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:27 (GMT)
Quoting presslord:
69F this morning at 7 am and the pool is 71

...you, too, make me sick...


YOu have become as grumpy an old man as Mother Nature keeps bitching at you. Would you please mend your differences so she stops her whinning also.....i can't take this fighting between the 2 of you....your bitchin has now become public knowledge and should have been keep behind closed doors.........ROFLMAO
Member Since: 2.09.2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
1375. BahaHurican
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:26 (GMT)
Quoting kmanislander:
Happy New Year all

I just stopped by to see how you all are coping with the deep freeze up North ?

Even down here it is "cold" by our standards. 69F this morning at 7 am and the pool is 71. BRRRR !
Hey! Happy New Year to you too. I was wondering how u guys were coping with the chill. Amazing to see under 70 deg. in the Caymans, and forecasts for the 40s for Cuba and Hispaniola tomorrow night!
Member Since: 25.10.2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20733
1374. reedzone
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:21 (GMT)
NWS has snow flurries forecasted for me in Palm Coast, Florida..

ANOTHER SHOT OF COLD AIR PROMISES TO BRING ADDITIONAL HARD FREEZES
TO THE AREA THROUGH THE UPCOMING WEEKEND AND INTO EARLY NEXT WEEK.
SNOW FLURRIES ARE POSSIBLE SOUTH OF A SAINT AUGUSTINE TO OCALA LINE
LATE FRIDAY NIGHT AND EARLY SATURDAY AS AN UPPER LEVEL DISTURBANCE
MOVES ACROSS THE FLORIDA PENINSULA.
Member Since: 1.07.2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
1373. kmanislander
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:20 (GMT)
Quoting presslord:
69F this morning at 7 am and the pool is 71

...you, too, make me sick...


Well, the hotels would be happy to see you LOL
Member Since: 19.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
1372. presslord
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:18 (GMT)
69F this morning at 7 am and the pool is 71

...you, too, make me sick...
Member Since: 13.08.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
1371. RitaEvac
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:17 (GMT)
SE TX discussion:
Friday:


Models continue to show a disturbance moving across the region. Air mass is forecast to be very dry at the surface with dewpoints falling into the single digits. Models are not showing much if any QPF over the region as moisture is based in the mid levels with anything falling evaporating prior to reaching the surface. However, a look at water vapor images shows an impressive plume of moisture pulling NE from Baja this morning and the fact that the models were too dry this morning does perk my interest. Within such arctic cold domes it does not take much moisture to produce precipitation. For now will continue a cloudy but dry forecast for Friday with temperatures holding near freezing all day. Will watch guidance closely for any signs of better moisture with this system and water vapor/obs for similar indications. Forecast soundings are completely frozen after midnight this evening so anything that falls and reaches the ground on Friday would be snow.

Weekend:

Skies clear Friday evening as massive 1050mb arctic high noses into TX. Winds will weaken and with very low dewpoints widespread teens can be expect both Saturday and Sunday mornings (see lows below). Many locations along and N of I-10 will remain at or below freezing from this evening through midday Sunday or roughly for about 60 hours. Will likely see another freeze Monday morning as the arctic high only slowly gives ground…feel models will be too fast in modifying this air mass given how dry it will be and how large the arctic high is and this may cause some issues as the next system approaches early next week.

Preparations:

Final preparations for this extended cold event should be completed this morning. Remember that anything wet will be frozen by tomorrow morning, so make sure the sprinkler systems are shut off to prevent ice development on surface streets and sidewalks. It is possible that many subdivision “lakes” will develop a layer of ice especially in areas where the surface temperatures does not rise above freezing until Saturday or Sunday along with many cattle stock ponds.


Member Since: 14.07.2008 Posts: 1 Comments: 9625
1370. kmanislander
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:16 (GMT)
Happy New Year all

I just stopped by to see how you all are coping with the deep freeze up North ?

Even down here it is "cold" by our standards. 69F this morning at 7 am and the pool is 71. BRRRR !
Member Since: 19.08.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 15671
1369. presslord
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:15 (GMT)
Currently Nassau is listed at 64 degrees

...you make me sick...
Member Since: 13.08.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
1368. Patrap
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:15 (GMT)
Member Since: 3.07.2005 Posts: 414 Comments: 125613
1367. BahaHurican
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:13 (GMT)
Morning again. Currently Nassau is listed at 64 degrees, but I forgot to mention last time that I got a reading of 56 on my front porch shortly before 7 a.m. It may not have gotten that cold at the airport, but it was chilly in our area.....

Looking at TS's precipitation map, it doesn't look like the mixed stuff is going to drop far enough south to cause any interesting situations today. I guess we shall see how far south it gets overnight.
Member Since: 25.10.2005 Posts: 19 Comments: 20733
1366. reedzone
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:12 (GMT)
See that disturbance in the Southwest? that could be the ingredient for the Florida snow this weekend. I still think models are not handling this well enough.
Member Since: 1.07.2008 Posts: 13 Comments: 7334
1365. TampaSpin
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:12 (GMT)
Quoting presslord:


Mother Nature and I aren't on speaking terms right now...


So we can blame you for this punishment that she is giving us all....Please be nice to her and give her some love!
Member Since: 2.09.2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
1364. TampaSpin
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:10 (GMT)
The Low is just starting to come together......

Member Since: 2.09.2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
1363. presslord
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 15:05 (GMT)
Quoting jeffs713:

Did you forget to pay your bribe to mother nature again?


Mother Nature and I aren't on speaking terms right now...
Member Since: 13.08.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
1362. TampaSpin
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:59 (GMT)
Quoting presslord:
1355 How does that not reach me as snow?!?!


I can't say you won't get some of it. The Low is forecast to move more to the North, that is why it might miss you....

Member Since: 2.09.2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
1361. StormChaser81
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:58 (GMT)



Member Since: 11.08.2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
1360. jeffs713
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:55 (GMT)
Quoting presslord:
1355 How does that not reach me as snow?!?!

Did you forget to pay your bribe to mother nature again?
Member Since: 3.08.2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
1359. jeffs713
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:54 (GMT)
Well, the front has passed through Houston...

The Woodlands, TX (40 miles NNW of Houston) - dropped 10 degrees & pressure has gone up by 6mb in 90 mins - now 42 degrees
Sugar Land, TX (25 miles SW of Houston) - dropped 5 degrees and pressure has started rising in the last 20 mins.
Member Since: 3.08.2008 Posts: 16 Comments: 5792
1358. presslord
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:49 (GMT)
1355 How does that not reach me as snow?!?!
Member Since: 13.08.2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 10458
1357. StormChaser81
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:47 (GMT)
39.7 degrees in St. Petersburg, FL this morning. Lots of Frost all over the place. Especially car roofs.
Member Since: 11.08.2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 2315
1356. IKE
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:45 (GMT)
Tupelo, Mississippi (Airport)
Updated: 19 min 11 sec ago
Light Snow
30 °F

Light Snow
Windchill: 25 °F
Humidity: 75%
Dew Point: 23 °F
Wind: 5 mph from the SW
Pressure: 30.16 in (Falling)
Visibility: 4.0 miles
UV: 0 out of 16
Clouds:
Mostly Cloudy 1400 ft
Overcast 1900 ft
(Above Ground Level)
Elevation: 344 ft
Rapid Fire Updates:
Member Since: 9.06.2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1355. TampaSpin
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:36 (GMT)
Member Since: 2.09.2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
1354. TampaSpin
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:34 (GMT)
Quoting Orcasystems:


ROFL, I didn't mean about you :)
My SA remark to Ike


Your not the only to make SA remarks by mistake My Friend!
Member Since: 2.09.2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430
1353. Orcasystems
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:32 (GMT)
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Hey now! I didn't mean it like that!!! LOL


ROFL, I didn't mean about you :)
My SA remark to Ike
Member Since: 1.10.2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1352. PensacolaDoug
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:31 (GMT)
Quoting Orcasystems:


Its going to be one of those days.... its 6:25am and I am wondering how much longer its going to take me to put my other foot in my mouth.



Hey now! I didn't mean it like that!!! LOL
Member Since: 25.07.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 519
1351. TheMom
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:30 (GMT)
Quoting FLPandhandleJG:


Possible percipitation amounts!
What amount is the dark blue? and is this for Friday morning or Friday night? Darn I wish I had gotten my big girl camera cleaned...
Member Since: 3.08.2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 672
1350. Orcasystems
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:28 (GMT)
Member Since: 1.10.2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1349. TheMom
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:27 (GMT)
LOL Orca I decided to condol (sp?) Ike rather than take that bait.
Member Since: 3.08.2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 672
1348. Orcasystems
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:26 (GMT)
Quoting PensacolaDoug:



Everybody in south Florida is a transplant from north. They know how to drive in winter!


Its going to be one of those days.... its 6:25am and I am wondering how much longer its going to take me to put my other foot in my mouth.
Member Since: 1.10.2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1347. TheMom
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:24 (GMT)
So sorry Ike ....and your wife is HOT!
(why is it girls can say other girls are hot and guys can't say another guy is hot... things to ponder)
Member Since: 3.08.2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 672
1345. TheMom
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:23 (GMT)
Quoting Orcasystems:


Safe to assume a lot of people don't have snow tires either :)
You know it! Anyone want in on the how many roll overs we will have if we get snow? Heck we used to have that betting pool when I lived in Denver and they at least know how to drive on snow have chains and salt trucks and plows and all that. It is funny though I asked friends in TN what "snow" supplies they were getting and it seems while our normal weather related shopping is for plywood, water, batteries, canned goods and non perishables... Apperantly for snow related survival we need to stock up on milk, bread and Toliet paper.
Member Since: 3.08.2006 Posts: 5 Comments: 672
1344. PensacolaDoug
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:18 (GMT)
Quoting Orcasystems:


Safe to assume a lot of people don't have snow tires either :)



Everybody in south Florida is a transplant from north. They know how to drive in winter!
Member Since: 25.07.2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 519
1343. Orcasystems
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:16 (GMT)
Quoting IKE:


My wife...that's my poodle that drowned.

WUmail
Member Since: 1.10.2007 Posts: 81 Comments: 26493
1342. biloxidaisy
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:15 (GMT)
Quoting IKE:


My wife...that's my poodle that drowned.


:( I am so sorry.
Member Since: 23.08.2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 246
1341. IKE
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:12 (GMT)
Quoting Orcasystems:


Ike, just noticed your new Avatar... who is the pretty lady holding you?


My wife...that's my poodle that drowned.
Member Since: 9.06.2005 Posts: 23 Comments: 37858
1340. TampaFLUSA
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:07 (GMT)
Quoting P451:
7PM Friday through 7AM Sunday


What site is that from?
Member Since: 21.06.2007 Posts: 10 Comments: 1657
1339. TampaSpin
7. tammikuuta 2010 klo 14:07 (GMT)
We all was wondering about the GOM not having a CANE in it last year if the heat that was not released would be bad for next year. I can see the heat has been released.
Member Since: 2.09.2007 Posts: 177 Comments: 20430

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About JeffMasters

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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