Hurricane forecasters continue to improve accuracy

By Gary Linnell

ProWEB Wire (Industry News)

Forecasters improved their accuracy during last year's Atlantic hurricane season, setting accuracy records for their one-, two-, and three-day forecasts for location.

For the year, the average error for a three-day forecast was approximately 125 miles, about half the distance of average errors seen 10 years ago.

According to Bill Read, director of the National Hurricane Center, "We've been making great strides in our hurricane forecasting, and this year was no exception. I wish we could say the same thing about our intensity forecasts."

Intensity forecasts, which predict how and when tropical storm systems will strengthen or weaken, have not shown much improvement in the past 20 years. For examples, last year, the hurricane center's average error in three-day intensity forecasts was 21 mph. In 1990, the average error for a similar forecast was 20 mph.

Read has recently helped institute the Hurricane Forecast Improvement Project, which aims to improve both forecast track accuracy and intensity forecast accuracy by 50 percent over 10 years.