Forecasting Today's Hurricane
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Hurricanes are more of a menace today than ever. Despite significant developments in technology, forecasts still have not been able to keep pace with the explosive population growth that continues to occur along the U.S. coastline.

In addition, neighboring countries in Central America and the Caribbean lack the economic, social, and political structure to withstand a devastating blow from a major hurricane. Alternative solutions to better forecasting are needed so that more lives are saved and heavy property damage is prevented.



Recent Trends

Research indicates that coastal populations in the United States have grown approximately 150 percent since 1960, and they are expected to continue increasing over the next fifteen to twenty years. Simultaneously, tropical storm and hurricane activity in the Atlantic Basin has dramatically increased over the past decade, and forecasters fear that this trend will continue over the next twenty to forty years.

Meanwhile, computer technology has only been able to gradually improve a forecaster's ability to accurately predict a hurricane's future track. In addition, forecasters continue to encounter difficulty in predicting a storm's intensity due to changes in a number of climate variables. With the advances in weather research coupled with improved technology and resources, it is essential to try developing alternative solutions such as storm modification to supplement forecasting.


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Rising Insurance Rates

As coastal populations have continued to grow, so have insurance rates. In August, 1992, the estimated cost from the damage caused by Hurricane Andrew in South Florida and Louisiana was approximately $27 billion dollars. Since that time, coastal populations have grown by another twenty percent.

Consequently, experts fear that the next major hurricane to strike a U.S. coastal city will cost somewhere in the range of $50 to $80 billion dollars. Furthermore, since 1998, there have been several international catastrophes including the devastation in Honduras and Nicaragua from Hurricane Mitch that left an estimated 11,000 people dead.

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What is Needed

Something is needed to supplement forecasting since people are still going to move toward the coast to live there. Forecasting is just not able to keep up with the population growth on its own. There must be new ways to help save lives and protect property. Whether, it is improved communication, preparation, emergency management, or even storm modification, there are tools available to help get the job done.

In addition, there needs to be more done for underdeveloped countries such as those in Central America and the Caribbean. Not only are large numbers of people dying in tropical storms and hurricanes in these areas, but also in other parts of the world such as India, Pakistan, China, Southern Africa, Madagascar, and the Western Pacific.

Thousands more lives are lost in these countries as well. Throwing money at the problem is not the answer either. Getting involved with the people and governments of these countries will do wonders in not only producing solutions, but also helping relations as well.


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