[Ncep.hmon] Fwd: Positive Article from CWG: NHC Forecasts

Avichal Mehra - NOAA Federal avichal.mehra at noaa.gov
Wed Nov 15 19:53:53 UTC 2017

     All of you played a role in striving to provide the best possible
guidance to NHC/NWS this year.

     So, congratulations to all on this achievement!
     Best, Avichal.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Bill Lapenta <bill.lapenta at noaa.gov>
Date: Wed, Nov 15, 2017 at 1:48 PM
Subject: Fwd: Positive Article from CWG: NHC Forecasts
To: _NCEP All Hands <ncep.all.hands at noaa.gov>

Dear NCEP--

Sharing a Washington Post Capital Weather Gang article entitled, "National
Hurricane Center issued its best forecasts on record this year."  Yes,
there's still time left in the 2017 hurricane season.  However, the article
nicely highlights the NHC unprecedented performance in the Atlantic basin
during an extremely challenging season.

Congratulations to the NHC and all the NCEP & NWS employees who played a
role in delivering world class forecasts, products and services to protect
life and property.


-------- Forwarded Message --------
Subject: Positive Article from CWG: NHC Forecasts
Date: Tue, 14 Nov 2017 14:28:58 -0500
From: Susan Buchanan - NOAA Federal <susan.buchanan at noaa.gov>
<susan.buchanan at noaa.gov>
To: _NWS.Executive.Council <nws.executive.council at noaa.gov>
<nws.executive.council at noaa.gov>, _Team.NWS <team.nws at noaa.gov>
<team.nws at noaa.gov>, Bill Lapenta <bill.lapenta at noaa.gov>
<bill.lapenta at noaa.gov>, Edward Rappaport <edward.n.rappaport at noaa.gov>
<edward.n.rappaport at noaa.gov>

*National Hurricane Center issued its best forecasts on record this

This was one of the worst hurricane seasons on record. We’ve seen six major
hurricanes, Category 3 or stronger. Three of those made landfall with
disastrous consequences. Hurricanes produced more than $300 billion in
damages this year and left few places in the Caribbean, Gulf and Southeast
United States untouched.

At one point in early September, the National Hurricane Center was managing
simultaneous hurricane watches and warnings for a combination of three
storms — Katia, Irma and Jose.

Despite the extreme season, the National Hurricane Center — which is a
branch of the National Weather Service — turned out one of its best
performances on record. When so much was on the line, its predictions for
hurricane tracks, pinpointing where these monster storms were headed, were
as accurate as they have ever been.

“The hurricane season still has a few weeks to go,” said Dennis Feltgen,
the spokesman for the National Hurricane Center, which means all of this
talk of how they performed is still preliminary. “That said, the data
indicate the NHC Atlantic track forecasts in 2017 set record low errors at
all time frames.”

None of their forecast seasons, which go back to 1970, were better than
this year.

A forecast’s skill is measured in two important ways — did it get the track
right, and did it get the intensity right. You can calculate these things
for a particular storm, or, like in this case, for all of the storms
combined in an entire season. The main goal of a forecast is to get it
right, obviously, but what we really want to see is a forecast that’s
better than a climatological coin toss. In other words, it needs to be
better than saying “what would an average storm like this do?”

Beyond that, forecasters strive to reduce error as much as possible. In
2017, the National Hurricane Center had its lowest track error.

Among its best-forecast storms was Hurricane Irma, which existed in some
form or another from Aug. 30 to Sept. 12, which is a significant amount of
time for a storm to be on the Hurricane Center’s radar. The NHC issued 47
one-day forecasts, 39 three-day forecasts and 31 five-day forecasts.
Impressively, NHC forecasters beat their own average track error by about
30 percent at every lead time on Hurricane Irma.

The intensity forecasts were — and always are — harder in 2017. The
strongest hurricanes often become that way because they go through rapid
intensification, which is exactly what it sounds like, but is very
difficult to predict. Conditions have to be just right, and even then some
storms intensify rapidly and some don’t. It’s still somewhat of an unknown
in hurricane forecasts.

This season had several examples where a storm strengthened dramatically in
less than a day. One of those storms was Hurricane Harvey, which — although
it seemed to come out of nowhere — the National Hurricane Center predicted
it with accuracy.

After a Hurricane Hunter mission showed Harvey was strengthening, the NHC
issued a special update. Their strength forecast ended up being within 6
mph of what Harvey ended up being at landfall.

Still, other storms dragged this season’s intensity forecasts down.

“[Hurricane] Lee is a good example of unexpected genesis and then
subsequent rapid intensification,” Feltgen said. “Roughly 40 24-hour rapid
intensification events occurred during the 2017 season, and NHC correctly
identified about 6 of them. This problem is, unfortunately, only slowly

The final verification statistics will be released by NHC early next year.
Small changes are possible in that final report, but in all likelihood, the
National Hurricane Center will be able to hang its hat on the 2017 season.

- -
Susan Buchanan
Acting Director of Public Affairs
National Weather Service

    Dr. Avichal Mehra                               Avichal.Mehra at noaa.gov
    Lead Physical Scientist                      NOAA/NWS/NCEP/EMC
    5830 University Research Court           Room 2104
    College Park                                      Ph.   301-683-3746
    MD 20740                                          Fax: 301-683-3703
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