Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Hurricane Forecasts Mark Gains in Science: "Like a football team that tries to lower expectations even as it keeps winning, hurricane forecasters don't want their success with Hurricane Isabel to make anyone complacent. ..."

"This was the first year the center has issued five-day forecasts of the expected storm track, and those forecasts were more accurate than three-day forecasts of a decade ago. With Isabel, for example, the hurricane's predicted location in five days was off by about 166 miles. The average three-day forecast of a hurricane's path was off by more than 200 miles between 1994 and 2002 and 300 miles between 1984 and 1993. ..."

"Helping forecasters in Isabel's case was a strong high pressure area over the northwest Atlantic Ocean. The wind revolving in a clockwise direction around the high provided a powerful steering current for the storm. ..."

"[I]n 1938 a deadly hurricane approached Florida then turned north. Forecasters lost track of it until it slammed into Long Island and New England, claiming more than 600 lives. ..."

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