NHC’s Bill Read On Predictions…Some Thoughts

Good afternoon everyone. I’ve been continuing to get ready for the upcoming hurricane season by tracking the weather, like the severe thunderstorms that passed through parts of New Jersey on Tuesday night, and also passing along e-mails to the folks on my mailing list with links to important articles on the National Hurricane Conference among other things. Speaking of the National Hurricane Conference. The Opening Session of the conference took place on Tuesday in Orlando, Florida, and one of the speakers at this session was new director at the National Hurricane Center, Bill Read, who not only provided an overview of the past 2007 Atlantic Hurricane Season, but also discussed the upcoming outlook by NOAA on the 2008 season.

It was Read’s discussion of the NOAA seasonal forecast that drew considerable curiosity and interest. When the topic came up, Read stated that it was more important for residents and officials to focus less on the actual numbers, and more on the effort of preparing people for a major hurricane. He felt that residents should be prepared as if 2008 was going to bring below average activity, but still have a major storm such as Hurricane Andrew back in August 1992. The 1992 season was below average by the way. Moreover, Read stated that he felt it wasn’t a good idea to include numbers in the seasonal forecast since people tend to focus too much on them. In other words, Read was stating much of what I had stated in my article yesterday on whether or not we should hold seasonal hurricane forecasters responsible.

Instead of being so focused on the numbers, and basing our preparations on them, we should prepare as if there is going to be one big storm this upcoming season. All it takes is one storm everyone. Katrina was one storm as well as Rita, Wilma, Dennis, and Ivan. Now, the difference from 1992 and 2005 was that there was so many storms in 2005, which meant many more opportunities for not only a severe storm, but also the chance for a powerful storm to strike the United States.

So, when you hear a seasonal hurricane forecast by either NOAA or Dr. William Gray of Colorado State University is being issued, and it calls for above average activity, you should prepare with the mindset that the possibility of that one big storm coming to your neighborhood has increased, and is more likely. However, you should still prepare for that eventuality anyway even when forecasts are calling for below average activity. If you prepare every season regardless of forecast, you won’t be let down, nor will you be surprised. Instead, you will be as the Coast Guard puts it, Semper Paratus, or Always Prepared.